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Trade Report Contact:
Shawn McCausland

Press Contact:
Kate Irwin

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

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3/17/2014

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on March 13 issued a fact sheet highlighting the many benefits that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement continues to provide two years after it entered into force to American businesses, workers and farmers. By contrast, at least two lawmakers and several non-governmental organizations claimed that the agreement has done more harm than good to U.S. manufacturing and employment.

3/17/2014

USTR announced March 12 that Acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler and Japanese Ambassador Hiroshi Oe held two days of negotiations on TPP market access issues that focused on the treatment of agricultural products. USTR characterized the progress achieved during the meetings as “limited” and noted that “significant gaps remain.” 

3/17/2014

USTR has issued a notice announcing April 6 as the effective date of the Protocol Amending the Agreement on Government Procurement, done at Geneva on March 30, 2012, with respect to the following parties to the 1994 WTO Government Procurement Agreement: Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, Liechtenstein, Norway, the European Union, Iceland, Singapore and Taiwan. 

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3/14/2014

A report issued March 12 by the International Trade Administration states that Canada, China, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, in that order, will be the top five markets for U.S. renewable energy exports during the next two years. Also placing high in the ranking of top markets are the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Peru, Belgium, the Philippines, the Netherlands and South Africa. 

3/14/2014

The State Department announced March 12 that the United States and Ukraine have agreed to reaffirm their partnership and strengthen economic and commercial ties as Ukrainian authorities and the international community attempt to cope with Russia’s military intervention in the Crimean peninsula. 

3/14/2014

The International Trade Administration is organizing a ports and marine technology trade mission to India for Nov. 9-15. This mission will seek to introduce U.S. firms and U.S. trade associations to India’s rapidly expanding ports and marine technology market and assist U.S. companies to pursue export opportunities in this sector. 

3/14/2014

The Federal Maritime Commission announced March 12 separate compromise agreements with a vessel-operating common carrier based in Germany and three non-vessel operating common carriers based in California, New Jersey and Shenzhen (China). The FMC notes that the $350,000 in recovered civil penalties resulted from investigations conducted by the FMC’s area representatives in Los Angeles as well as Washington, D.C. headquarters staff.

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3/13/2014

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on March 11 issued an updated list of objectives for its ongoing negotiations with the European Union on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. USTR welcomes feedback from interested parties on these goals as well as on any related information and any other U.S. trade and investment initiatives.

3/13/2014

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Korean President Park Geun-hye announced March 11 that Canada and South Korea have successfully concluded negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement. A joint declaration indicates that Canada and South Korea are committed to finalizing the legal review and required domestic procedures expeditiously in order to implement the deal as soon as possible.

3/13/2014

USTR has determined that certain intellectual property rights, acts, policies and practices of Ukraine are unreasonable and burden or restrict U.S. commerce and are thus actionable under section 301(b) of the Trade Act of 1974. However, in light of the current political situation in Ukraine, USTR has determined that no action under section 301 is appropriate at this time. 

3/13/2014

The United States and Nigeria on March 12 held the eighth meeting of their bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement Council. A USTR press release states that the meeting focused on several common objectives, including improving market access, utilization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, IPR protection, implementation of the new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and improving the bilateral investment climate.

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3/12/2014

U.S. and EU trade officials on March 10 kicked off in Brussels the fourth round of negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. According to the European Commission and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, negotiators addressed a range of issues during the first day of talks including services, labor, rules of origin, intellectual property and regulatory sectors. 

3/12/2014

The Department of Justice announced March 10 that a French citizen has agreed to plead guilty in a New York court to obstructing a federal criminal investigation into whether a mining company paid bribes to win lucrative mining rights in the Republic of Guinea. The U.S. government alleges that the French citizen attempted to obstruct an ongoing federal grand jury investigation concerning potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and laws proscribing money laundering.

3/12/2014

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final rule amending and extending for five more years the import restrictions in place on certain archaeological and ecclesiastical ethnological materials from Honduras. The State Department has determined that conditions continue to warrant the imposition of these restrictions as well as the addition of certain ethnological materials effective from March 12. 

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3/11/2014

The Consumer Product Safety Commission voted 3-0 March 5 to approve a new federal mandatory safety standard for infants’ and children’s carriages and strollers, which will become effective Sept. 10, 2015. The standard incorporates by reference the most recent voluntary standard developed by ASTM International (ASTM F833-13b), with a modification to address head entrapment hazards associated with multi-positional/adjustable grab bars.

3/11/2014

The Department of Justice announced March 7 that two ocean shipping companies have agreed to pay a combined fine of $3.4 million (one company paid $1.9 million and the other $1.5 million) to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by fixing the price of government cargo transportation contracts between the continental United States and Puerto Rico.

3/11/2014

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is seeking comments from interested parties by March 31 on a request it recently submitted to the World Trade Organization calling for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel to examine China’s continuing imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on grain oriented flat-rolled electrical steel from the United States.

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3/10/2014

The Senate voted March 6 to confirm R. Gil Kerlikowske as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Kerlikowske had been director of national drug control policy since 2009 and has 37 years of law enforcement and drug policy experience.

3/10/2014

The State Department issued March 5 an order imposing a $20 million fine and extensive remedial measures against a Washington-based aerospace and defense manufacturing company to settle a total of 282 charges that entities the company acquired over the past decade committed the following violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

3/10/2014

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is warning that it could resume a DR-CAFTA dispute settlement case on labor law enforcement in Guatemala if that country does not take further action by April 25.

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3/7/2014

The European Union announced March 5 a proposed package of measures on trade in gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten that could take effect in late 2015 and are designed to complement U.S. conflict minerals regulations.

3/7/2014

A DOJ press release states that this case marks the first federal jury conviction on charges brought under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Sentencing is scheduled for June 10.

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3/6/2014

Priority issues for 2014 will include concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement talks, advancing negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union, and moving ahead with efforts within the World Trade Organization on information technology, services and environmental goods.

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3/5/2014

This proposal represents the third phase of Canada’s Advance Commercial Information program, called eManifest, and includes requirements for electronic pre-arrival information in the highway and rail modes, enhancements to existing processes in the marine and air modes, and provisions that would allow the CBSA to develop administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance with eManifest requirements.

3/5/2014

The Department of Energy has tentatively determined that computer and battery backup systems qualify as a covered product under Part A of Title III of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act. If the DOE finalizes this determination it would be able to prescribe test procedures and energy conservation standards for these products.

3/5/2014

A USTR press release states that Israel has passed patent legislation that satisfies the remaining commitments the country made in a 2010 memorandum of understanding that outlined a series of legal and regulatory measures it would take to make its patent system more transparent, efficient and effective.

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3/4/2014

The Court of International Trade reversed an earlier decision Feb. 25 and determined that a yarn importer does have standing to challenge a U.S. Customs and Border Protection reclassification that gives it a favorable duty rate but could negatively impact its sales to garment manufacturers. However, the court then ruled that CBP’s reclassification was indeed correct.

3/4/2014

According to press reports, unnamed Obama administration officials said the crisis “will have an enormous cost for the Russian economy” and that the U.S. is “looking at a broad menu of options to curtail our trade and economic relationship” with Russia.

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3/1/2014

The president nominated former Business Software Alliance head Robert Holleyman II to serve as deputy U.S. trade representative and appointed Deloitte LLP CEO Joe Echevarria as a member of the President's Export Council.

3/1/2014

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is reopening until April 2 the period for public comments on a petition requesting an exception from the 100 parts per million lead content limit for children’s products for a new line of pens aimed at children in the early stages of learning to write.

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2/28/2014

The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to update the “Nutrition Facts” label for packaged foods to reflect new public health and scientific information, update serving size requirements to better align with how much people really eat, and highlight key elements such as calories and serving sizes.

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Customs & International Headlines