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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.
A Food and Drug Administration rule requiring food importers to verify that their shipments meet U.S. safety standards will start taking effect May 30. Noncompliant importers risk supply chain disruptions, delays in entry processing, and possibly the exclusion of their products from the U.S. marketplace.
There are now more than 400 bilateral and regional PTAs worldwide, the ICC said, and new ones increasingly overlap existing ones, resulting in diverging rules of origin regulations and procedures that are becoming a trade barrier along the entire supply chain. Setting common standards and procedures for cross-border transactions aims to lower costs and increase predictability, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Canadian government is considering measures that could be imposed in response to what it deems “unfair and punitive” U.S. antidumping duties on imports of softwood lumber from Canada. However, both sides say they are willing to pursue a negotiated settlement like the one that put the long-running dispute on hold for a decade before expiring 18 months ago.
A delay in confirming Robert Lighthizer as the next U.S. trade representative appears to be holding up the Trump administration’s efforts to launch talks on renegotiating NAFTA. Lighthizer was approved by the Senate Finance Committee April 24 but it is unclear when the full Senate might act.
The U.S. monthly trade deficit in goods and services edged down 0.2 percent in March to $43.7 billion a month after a 9.5 percent decrease. Exports slipped 0.9 percent to $191.0 billion while imports lost 0.7 percent to $234.7 billion. Press sources note that so far this year the overall U.S. trade deficit is up by more than seven percent from 2016.
Ross also signaled that the U.S. intends to reshape NAFTA into separate bilateral agreements with Canada and Mexico “that match and are symmetrical.”