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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said it is “too soon” for the trade deficit numbers to reflect either China’s recent agreement to open its market to U.S. beef, liquefied natural gas, and other products beginning July 16 or other steps the Trump administration has taken to “level the balance of trade.” He also pointed out that there were improvements in some areas in April, including record-high exports to South Korea and exports to Japan that were the largest since August 2014.
A new tariff-rate quota on large residential washers is being sought in a safeguard petition filed May 31. The petition argues that existing antidumping duty orders on these products have not remedied a “surge of injurious imports” as two South Korean producers have shifted production to other countries to avoid AD duties.
The Department of Commerce is accelerating its section 232 investigation into the national security effects of aluminum imports by moving up from June 29 to June 23 the deadline for submitting written comments, data, analyses, and other pertinent information. The DOC will also hold a public hearing in this investigation June 22.
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.