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Russia acted as a responsible member of the World Trade Organization community in some areas in 2016, but overall its actions continued to depart from the core WTO tenets of liberal trade, transparency, and predictability in favor of measures that appear intended to build walls around its market. That is the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s conclusion in its annual combined report on Russia’s compliance with its WTO commitments and WTO enforcement actions against Russia.
The Obama administration announced Dec. 22 that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is taking action to reinstate retaliatory duties against EU products in connection with the EU’s ban on hormone-treated U.S. beef.
USTR released Dec. 21 the results of its Special 301 out-of-cycle review of notorious markets for 2016. This review identifies dozens of physical and online marketplaces that reportedly engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.
The Department of State on Dec. 16 released its first national action plan to promote responsible business conduct by U.S. companies operating abroad. This effort marks the first time the U.S. government has undertaken a whole-of-government process to focus, improve, and expand its effort to promote RBC.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule that removes the regulations specifying certain procedural requirements for rulemaking under section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act, which provides the EPA with several authorities for addressing risks from chemical substances and includes procedures the agency must follow in doing so.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued an interim final rule establishing the Centers of Excellence and Expertise as a permanent organizational component of the agency and transitioning certain additional trade functions to the Centers.
The Fish and Wildlife Service has rescinded an Oct. 18 notice and will continue to issue designated port exception permits, which allow the importers and exporters to whom they are issued to ship specified wildlife products through ports not staffed with wildlife inspectors. The trade community had expressed concern that an FWS plan to halt this practice could have had substantial negative effects on their supply chains.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is transitioning its ongoing reconciliation test to the Automated Commercial Environment and making a number other changes as of Jan. 14.
U.S. and Mexican government officials announced Dec. 13 the expansion of a pilot project that will see U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Mexico’s Servicio de Administracion Tributaria performing outbound joint cargo clearance and examinations at Arizona’s Port of Nogales.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expanding the types of entries that may be corrected by filing a post-summary correction and making other changes to its ongoing tests of PSCs and periodic monthly statements. These modifications will be effective as of Jan. 14, 2017.
Costs associated with imported articles or inputs might no longer be deductible from corporate income taxes under a controversial proposal being developed by congressional Republicans. There are currently few details on how this concept might be implemented, but with the GOP controlling the House, Senate, and White House and intent on passing the most sweeping reforms to the U.S. tax code in 30 years it is likely to see further discussion and refinement.
Three private-sector teams working under a Federal Maritime Commission initiative have concluded that a national portal providing critical information to supply chain actors would help address the congestion and related bottlenecks experienced at ports and other points in the U.S. supply chain in recent years.