COVID-19: Update on Trade Agency Operations in Response to Pandemic
Federal trade regulatory agencies have recently announced the following with regard to their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please contact trade attorney Lenny Feldman at (305) 894-1011.
Federal Maritime Commission
The FMC launched March 31 an initiative aimed at addressing port congestion and related challenges in the U.S. freight delivery system related to the pandemic.
Food and Drug Administration
The FDA announced April 3 that it will begin requesting that importers send electronically or through other prompt means records required under the foreign supplier verification programs for importers of food for humans and animals rule. While inspections to review FSVP records have typically been conducted at an importer’s place of business, the FDA is temporarily conducting inspections remotely (as practical) until further notice due to the travel and other restrictions associated with COVID-19. The FDA will prioritize inspections of FSVP importers of food from foreign suppliers whose onsite food facility or farm inspections have been postponed due to COVID-19. The agency is also planning to continue to conduct previously assigned routine and follow-up inspections remotely during this time. In rare situations, such as in response to an outbreak of foodborne illness, the FDA may still choose to conduct an onsite FSVP inspection.
In addition, noting that there may be delays in the receipt of hard-copy notices of action, the FDA strongly encourages all members of the import community who deal in FDA-regulated articles to utilize the Import Trade Auxiliary Communication System for current entry status and to receive FDA notices electronically. ITACS account management functionality may be used by customs brokers (entry filers), importers of record, and consignees with an approved ITACS account. The FDA notes that an ITACS account is not required to import FDA-regulated goods and that firms must have been a party to a previously transmitted, non-disclaimed FDA entry to be granted an ITACS account.
International Trade Commission
Until further notice, no in-person preliminary phase staff conferences will be held for new and ongoing antidumping and countervailing injury investigations. Instead, interested parties will have the opportunity to provide opening remarks, witness testimony, and responses to staff questions through written submissions and post-conference briefs.
All AD/CV investigation votes will be conducted by notation and there will be no in-person vote until further notice.
Also until further notice, no in-person hearings will be held for final phase investigations, sunset reviews, and those held under Section 332 and Section 131. Instead, interested parties will be invited to provide opening remarks, written testimony, and responses to ITC questions with certified written responses and may also be invited to participate in virtual or telephonic closing and/or rebuttal statements.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
CBP’s Pharmaceuticals, Health, and Chemical Center of Excellence and Expertise has established the COVID-19 Cargo Resolution Team in an effort to coordinate inquiries regarding the importation of medical supplies and personal protective equipment.