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COVID-19: Update on Trade Agency Operations in Response to Pandemic

Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Federal trade regulatory agencies have 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.

Census

The Census Bureau has said that while its call centers and email inboxes remain open to assist the trade community daily, voluntary self-disclosures and data requests should be sent electronically to the Trade Regulations Branch in a password-protected file (for VSDs) or Data User & Trade Outreach Branch (for data requests). Alternatives, VSDs and data requests may be sent to Census’ secure fax at (301) 763-8835.

CBP

Effective March 21 through April 20, the U.S. is prohibiting non-essential travel from Canada and Mexico at land ports of entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection states that those exempt from this restriction include individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade; e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. CBP adds that the restriction “should not interrupt legitimate trade … or disrupt critical supply chains that ensure food, fuel, medicine, and other critical materials reach individuals on both sides of the border.”

CBP has issued notices concerning COVID-19 effects on duty deferrals, bonds, and rulings – click here for more information.

CBP is postponing its customs broker license exam scheduled for April 1 but has not yet rescheduled it.

DDTC

The State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls reported March 18 the following information.

- All electronic license application systems are in normal operational mode and new licenses continue to be accepted, but processing times are likely to be longer than normal due to a reduction in the availability of staffing in multiple organizations to review applications.

- Enrollment and registration requests are still operating via the DECCS system and are being processed as they are submitted.

- Commodity jurisdiction and general correspondence requests continue to be processed but responses may be delayed.

- The Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance has established a new option for industry to submit disclosures and related information pursuant to ITAR Section 127.12, which should be done via email.

FDA

The Food and Drug Administration has reported that its import operations remain functional and operational but has temporarily relieved importers of the requirement to conduct onsite audits for foreign food suppliers. Click here for more information.

The FDA has also issued emergency use authorizations to facilitate the import, entry, and use of disposable filtering facepiece respirators and diagnostic testing kits.

ITC

With respect to hearings in Section 337 intellectual property infringement investigations, the International Trade Commission will order administrative law judges to postpone any hearings scheduled in the next 60 days and will re-evaluate the schedule after 45 days for any additional postponements. All discovery will continue and any essential outside participation by staff will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

With respect to AD and CV injury investigations, the ITC will cancel preliminary phase staff conferences for the next 60 days and issue notices for written submissions instead. The ITC will conduct all votes by notation and there will be no in-person vote for the next 60 days.

Regarding hearings (final AD/CV injury investigations, sunset reviews, and those held under Section 332 and Section 131), the ITC will not hold in-person hearings and instead will invite interested parties to answer written questions with certified written responses.

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