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President Trump has informed the leaders of Canada and Mexico that he has “agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time,” according to a White House statement. The leaders also “agreed to proceed swiftly … to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries.”
Press reports indicate that the Department of Commerce may announce April 27 the self-initiation of a section 232 investigation to determine whether imports of foreign-made aluminum are harming U.S. national security. In addition, President Trump is reportedly planning to issue a memorandum directing the DOC to expedite that investigation.
The World Trade Organization has set $163.23 million as the amount of annual trade sanctions Mexico may seek to impose against the U.S. in their long-running dispute over dolphin-safe tuna labeling. However, the retaliation threat could be short-lived if a separate pending decision finds that the U.S. has come into compliance with WTO rules.
Lighthizer’s confirmation by the full Senate, which could come within the next week, could spur progress on Trump administration trade initiatives such as renegotiating NAFTA.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced April 24 that two former executives of a Hungarian telecommunications company have agreed to financial penalties and employment restrictions to settle charges that they violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
CBP issues country of origin advisory rulings and final determinations as to whether an article is or would be a product of a designated country or instrumentality for the purposes of granting waivers of certain “Buy American” restrictions in U.S. law or practice for products offered for sale to the U.S. government.
The Bureau of Industry and Security has provided further information about a regulatory requirement that as of April 19 imposes new support documentation requirements on exports of specific controlled items to or through Hong Kong.
President Trump issued April 18 an executive order that a senior administration official said will “usher in a new, more muscular Buy American policy” based on maximizing the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the U.S. This effort aims to promote economic and national security, help stimulate economic growth, and support the U.S. manufacturing and defense industrial bases.
The U.S. trade deficit with Korea has more than doubled since the KORUS agreement took effect in 2012 and President Trump has made reducing trade deficits a top economic priority. Trump has also expressed interest in a bilateral deal with Japan after withdrawing in January from the Trans-Pacific Partnership both countries had negotiated with ten others.
U.S.-China trade tensions could ease somewhat after the Treasury Department’s semiannual foreign exchange rate report declined to name China a currency manipulator. However, China remains one of six countries Treasury has targeted for close scrutiny of their currency practices.
The Department of Commerce has published a report required as part of the revamped miscellaneous trade bill process approved by Congress in 2016. The MTB temporarily reduces or suspends tariffs paid on imported inputs and products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced April 11 an “unprecedented action” as part of the Trump administration’s effort to “take swift action against harmful trade practices from foreign nations attempting to take advantage of our markets, workers, and businesses.”
This effort is likely to affect import, export, and other trade-related regulations issued by agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Commerce, although the extent of this impact remains unclear.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Matt Borman told a recent meeting of the BIS Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee that BIS plans to issue within the next few weeks a regulatory exception mirroring the OFAC general license.
A revision of the Foreign Trade Regulations is among the Commerce Department rules on hold due to White House efforts to reduce government regulation. Bureau of Industry and Security officials told a recent meeting of the Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee that DOC agencies are continuing to discuss internally how to implement these efforts.