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The WTO’s 11th ministerial meeting concluded Dec. 13 with a commitment from members to secure a deal by the end of 2019 on comprehensive and effective disciplines that prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. However, no agreement was possible in a number of substantive issues, including public stockholding for food security purposes.
According to a joint statement, the ministers will seek to eliminate practices by third countries that exacerbate this problem, including government-financed and -supported capacity expansion, unfair competitive conditions caused by large market-distorting subsidies and state-owned enterprises, forced technology transfer, and local content requirements and preferences.
A new report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the World Bank reveals that non-tariff measures make trade costlier for developing countries than tariffs. NTMs are defined as measures other than ordinary customs duties that can potentially have an economic effect on international trade; e.g., safety regulations for machinery or toys, health regulations for food or medicines, quotas, price controls, and export restrictions.
The World Customs Organization’s Policy Commission recently adopted a resolution aimed at helping customs and other government agencies, businesses, and other stakeholders in the cross-border e-commerce supply chain to understand, coordinate, and better respond to current and emerging challenges. The Policy Commission also issued a communiqué on e-commerce to the World Trade Organization’s ongoing ministerial conference, where this topic could be one of a few on which WTO members are able to reach agreement.
In his opening statement at the World Trade Organization’s 11th ministerial meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer enumerated concerns that have helped throw the WTO’s future into doubt. The Trump administration’s critical approach toward the WTO, spurred by a belief that it treats the U.S. unfairly, slowed the organization’s work in 2017 and has significantly lowered expectations for the biannual meeting.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is planning to conduct a pilot test of the electronic payment of taxes and fees imposed on commercial vessels at four ports of entry. This pilot will start no earlier than Jan. 8, 2018, and run for 18 months. CBP states that the pilot will not affect the amount of taxes and fees due, the clearance process, or the proof of documentation required to be presented.
The new policy states that when a company satisfies the standards of voluntary self-disclosure, full cooperation, and timely and appropriate remediation there will be a presumption that DOJ will resolve the company’s case through a declination of prosecution.
A group of 41 House and Senate Republicans expressed concern this week in separate letters to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer about the potential negative effects of the proposed safeguard remedies on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules. President Trump faces a Jan. 12 deadline to decide whether to impose any remedies in this proceeding.
A recent WTO report finds that WTO members introduced fewer trade-restrictive measures from mid-October 2016 to mid-October 2017 compared to the previous year. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said that at $169 billion the import-facilitating measures adopted during the review period covered twice the value of the import-restrictive measures implemented, which totaled $79 billion. He also highlighted the trade liberalization measures associated with the expansion of the ITA, estimated at about $385 billion.
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A., is pleased to announce that consulting and trade compliance management company Sandler Travis Trade Advisory Services Inc. has been acquired by United Parcel Service Inc. STTAS will continue to provide its same services, from the same offices, with use of the same personnel. It will also continue to serve as a resource to ST&R on joint client issues as it has in the past.
U.S. trade officials were critical of a report issued this week on ways to reduce excess capacity in the global steel market. More than 30 steel producing countries representing 90 percent of global steel manufacturing launched the Global Forum on Excess Steel Capacity in December 2016 in an effort to address the systemic issues causing the global steel crisis. The European Union said forum members have now agreed on “an ambitious package of concrete policy solutions,” but the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said “much work remains.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is conducting multiple experiments and technology demonstrations as part of an ongoing initiative to modernize its revenue collection process. CBP is also working to track the implementation of more than a dozen revenue modernization recommendations offered by the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee earlier this year.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is looking to expand participation in its ongoing tests of the feasibility and functionality of filing air, rail, and vessel cargo export manifest data electronically through the Automated Commercial Environment. This effort comes as CBP continues to work to reconcile its interest in obtaining advance information for export manifest requirements with the export data requirements in the Census Bureau’s Foreign Trade Regulations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is considering a number of options for further action to ensure the collection of antidumping and countervailing duties on imported goods. Earlier this year President Trump issued an executive order directing federal authorities to step up AD/CV duty collections, which an August 2016 Government Accountability Report said had fallen $2.3 billion short over the previous 15 years.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is moving ahead with an evaluation of the implications and potential application of blockchain technology to trade processing. As part of that effort, CBP’s Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee has established a working group to examine this issue.