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The Department of Treasury and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced Nov. 20 their intention to begin negotiations on a “covered agreement” with the European Union. A covered agreement is an agreement between the U.S. and one or more foreign governments, authorities or regulatory entities regarding prudential measures with respect to insurance or reinsurance.
Among the trade and economic issues examined in this year’s report are the foreign investment climate in China, China’s agenda for market reform and competiveness, digital trade barriers in China, and China’s commercial cyber espionage efforts.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is the biggest trade issue on the horizon for Congress but will not likely take center stage until well into 2016. In the meantime, lawmakers are moving to advance other legislation affecting customs, trade and transportation issues.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative asserts that TPP will create export opportunities for U.S.-made clothes, fabrics and yarns and help develop a regionally integrated supply chain that will promote long-term growth and investment in this sector in the U.S. The agreement also provides protections such as cooperation among customs authorities to facilitate enforcement and temporary relief from harmful import surges.
The International Trade Commission announced Nov. 17 the institution of its investigation of the likely economic impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. However, the timing associated with this investigation could slow the Obama administration’s push to submit TPP implementing legislation to Congress in early 2016 in hopes of securing approval before the presidential and congressional election campaigns heat up.
The International Trade Commission’s authority to restrict imports of articles for intellectual property infringement does not extend to digital products, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in a recent split decision. The ITC had determined in connection with a patent infringement investigation of digital models and data used in making dental appliances that digital products are articles, and that electronic cross-border transmissions constitute importation, for purposes of Section 337 IPR infringement investigations.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has made available import statistics for the first nine months of 2015 that identify goods that could become ineligible for benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences. This information may be useful in deciding whether to submit a petition to waive the competitive need limitations and thus retain preferential treatment for GSP-eligible articles that might otherwise lose them.
CBP states that these amendments, which will take effect Dec. 14, align its regulations with current common practice and improve efficiency by requiring importers to file continuous bonds at the Revenue Division, requiring single transaction bonds to be filed at either the Revenue Division or with the port director, and permitting both continuous bonds and STBs to be scanned and submitted to CBP via email as an attachment or by fax.
Importers and other interested parties have until Nov. 23 to file petitions with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to maintain duty-free treatment under the Generalized System of Preferences for nine products that are on track to exceed one of two statutory competitive need limitations.
Nearly 25 years after abandoning a similar attempt, the Food and Drug Administration is again considering whether to formally define the term “natural” in the labeling of human food products, including foods that are genetically engineered or contain ingredients produced through the use of genetic engineering.
Brady singled out tax code, welfare, and Social Security and Medicare reforms, as well as “expanding America’s ability to sell our products around the world,” as his priorities.
Actions taken by the Obama administration this week indicate that the White House is working to obtain congressional approval of the 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership as soon as possible in 2016 and does not want to delay a vote until after national elections next November. However, initial reactions from key lawmakers and others indicate that reaching this goal is not a foregone conclusion.
The big questions now are what exactly the biggest free trade agreement ever negotiated contains and when its benefits will take effect.
The TTIP talks had lagged as the U.S. focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but that agreement was concluded in early October. U.S. chief negotiator Dan Mullaney said the U.S. wants to achieve a “similarly high quality agreement” with the EU and is working to finish negotiations before the end of President Obama’s presidency in January 2017.