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As the U.S. prepares to start renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement as soon as mid-August, the International Trade Commission has launched an investigation into the elimination of remaining tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico.
The Export Control Reform Initiative undertaken by the Obama administration has “tilted the balance more toward increasing exports and trade at the expense of controls and national security,” according to a recent report from the Institute for Science and International Security. The report does not call for a reversal of the reforms but offers a number of recommendations to “repair weaknesses in the system.”
The U.S. and the European Union reportedly agreed May 25 to pursue a joint action plan on trade. The two sides also signaled possible cooperation in efforts against “unfair competition.”
The proposal includes $29.8 million to fund 140 positions to provide for new services mandated by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act.
President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal includes additional resources for the International Trade Administration that would be focused on self-initiating antidumping and countervailing duty cases. The Bureau of Industry and Security would also see a funding increase to boost its enforcement capabilities.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer emphasized two of President Trump’s trade policies at a May 20-21 meeting of trade ministers from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum member countries. Lighthizer also opposed the inclusion of language decrying “protectionist trends,” which he indicated is being inaccurately used to refer to U.S. efforts to create free and fair trade, in a proposed joint statement that the ministers ultimately did not issue.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has set a June 12 deadline for the submission of public comments on matters relevant to the modernization of NAFTA. USTR will also conduct a public hearing on this topic June 27 in Washington, D.C.; those wishing to testify at this hearing must notify USTR by June 12.
Effective May 1 the European Union has increased from 0.45 percent to 4.3 percent its retaliatory duty on women’s and girls’ jeans, sweet corn, metal eyeglass frames and mountings, and crane trucks from the U.S. Affected EU tariff numbers are 6204.62.31, 0710.40.00, 9003.19.30, and 8705.10.00, respectively.
A former U.S. trade representative and a current senator are urging the Trump administration to add another weapon to its offensive against allegations of unfair trade policies on the part of China: renegotiating the terms of China’s membership in the World Trade Organization.
The policy directs federal prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses, which are defined as those that carry the most substantial sentences under federal guidelines.
New USTR Robert Lighthizer is reportedly meeting with congressional committees this week to discuss the Trump administration’s renegotiation priorities and is expected to soon send Congress a formal 90-day notification of the administration’s intent to launch talks with Canada and Mexico.
The Trump administration’s long-awaited initiative to renegotiate NAFTA could get underway as early as mid-August now that Robert Lighthizer has been confirmed and sworn in as U.S. trade representative.
Secretary Wilbur Ross said the Department of Commerce is considering whether to initiate a section 232 national security investigation of imported semiconductors because of their “huge defense implications” and the fact that China is ramping up its domestic production, according to a Reuters article.
The Senate voted 82-14 May 11 to confirm Robert Lighthizer as U.S. trade representative. Lighthizer, a long-time trade attorney who served as deputy USTR under President Reagan, is expected to lead a more enforcement-oriented approach to trade policy under the Trump administration.