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The U.S. rejected this week efforts by several trading partners to pursue litigation at the World Trade Organization against the additional tariffs it imposed earlier this year on imported steel and aluminum. The U.S. asserted that those tariffs followed a decision that such imports threaten national security and therefore cannot be challenged at the WTO.
Dozens of goods are being removed from eligibility for preferential duty treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences in a presidential proclamation issued Oct. 30. These and the other changes set forth below will be effective with respect to goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on or after 12:01 a.m. EDT on Nov. 1.
The Bureau of Industry and Security has added one entity in China to the Entity List, which lists entities restricted from receiving U.S. exports of goods controlled under the Export Administration Regulations. BIS is adding this entity effective Oct. 30 after determining that it poses a significant risk of becoming involved in activities that could have a negative impact on U.S. national security interests.
Stating that the current situation at the World Trade Organization “is no longer sustainable,” 13 WTO members have identified a functioning dispute settlement system, a reinvigorated negotiating function, and more transparency into members’ trade policies as the three areas they intend to focus on as part of an emerging WTO reform effort. In a joint communique issued at the end of an Oct. 24-25 meeting in Ottawa, these members expressed a “common resolve for rapid and concerted action” on these issues and said they will meet again in January to review progress.
Members of the trade community are being asked to provide input on what should be included in a U.S. trade agreement with Japan. The Trump administration has announced plans to launch negotiations on such an agreement no earlier than Jan. 14, 2019. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative states that its goal is for a final agreement to address tariff and non-tariff barriers and “achieve fairer, more balanced trade.”
Further enhancing supply chain security, modernizing import and export processes, improving trade intelligence, and maximizing efficiencies are the four major areas U.S. Customs and Border Protection will focus on over the next two years. These goals are set forth in CBP’s “Trade Strategy 2020,” which builds on the tools and authorities provided by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act and provides a framework for agency priorities within its overarching mission of providing trade security, enforcement, and facilitation.
The New Zealand Customs Service reports that it can now make rulings on the value of imported goods and that importers, agents, and brokers can apply for binding valuation rulings. In addition, importers that cannot determine the value of imported goods at the time of importation can now use the provisional values service to give a reasonable estimate of that value, which can then be finalized at a later date.
The U.S. and the Philippines announced Oct. 22 achievements under their trade and investment framework agreement that resolve several bilateral trade issues. The Philippines has been mentioned as a possible free trade agreement target of the Trump administration, which recently announced its intent to pursue FTAs with the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
Nearly 200 lawmakers wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently requesting the establishment of a process allowing U.S. companies to request exclusions from the additional tariffs imposed on $200 billion worth of goods imported from China. These goods were assessed an additional 10 percent duty beginning Sept. 24 and the tariff is slated to rise to 25 percent as of Jan. 1, 2019.
Costs for shipping e-commerce goods from China into the U.S. could increase if the White House follows through on an Oct. 17 announcement that the U.S. will to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union. Instead, the Trump administration plans to adopt self-declared rates for the delivery of goods through international mail “as soon as practical” and no later than Jan. 1, 2020.
Final regulations implementing the changes to drawback law made by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act must be issued and become effective by Dec. 17 under a recent order by the Court of International Trade.
The Trump administration notified Congress Oct. 16 of its intent to negotiate separate trade agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Negotiations will begin no earlier than Jan. 14, 2019, with the EU and Japan, while talks with the UK will begin “as soon as it is ready” after it exits from the EU on March 29, 2019.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a message stating that the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act’s duty suspensions or reductions on 1,660 products were effective for goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption on or after Oct. 13 and will remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2020.
Under a pilot program set to begin in November, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. will conduct national security reviews of an expanded range of proposed foreign investments in 27 sensitive industries.
Modernizing and streamlining U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s regulations on foreign-trade zones are the objectives of recommendations submitted to CBP Oct. 3 by its Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee. COAC said the goal of these recommendations is to provide for full automation, more efficient processes, and reduced transactional oversight based on risk.