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FTC Proposes Changes to Wool Products Labeling Rules
Federal Trade Commission / http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/09/woolrules.shtm

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on proposed changes to its Wool Products Labeling Rules as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides.

The Wool Products Labeling Rules require that labels on wool products disclose the manufacturer’s or marketer’s name, the country where the product was processed or manufactured, and information about the fiber content. The FTC first issued the Rules under the Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939, known as the Wool Act.  The agency completed its last review of the Rules in 1998 and modified the Rules in 1998 and 2000.  In 2006, the Wool Act was amended by the Wool Suit Fabric Labeling Fairness and International Standards Conforming Act, which provides that wool products identified as cashmere or as containing very fine wools are misbranded unless  they have no more than the  average fiber diameter specified in the Act.

In January 2012, the FTC sought comment on the Rules.  In response to the comments received, the FTC proposes changes designed to clarify and update the Rules, to make them more flexible, and to align them with the Commission’s proposed amendments to the Textile Rules.  The proposed changes include incorporating the Wool Act’s new definitions for cashmere and very fine wools, clarifying descriptions of products containing virgin or new wool, and revising the Rules to allow certain hang-tags disclosing fiber trademarks and performance even if they do not disclose the product’s full fiber content.

The Commission vote approving the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 4-0.  It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register soon.  Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice.  Comments must be received by November 25, 2013.  All comments received will be posted at www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm.  (FTC File No. P124201; the staff contact is Robert M. Frisby, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2098)

For more information, read Threading Your Way Through the Labeling Requirements Under the Textile and Wool Acts and Cachet of Cashmere: Complying with the Wool Products Labeling Act.


USITC RELEASES SHIFTS IN U.S.MERCHANDISE TRADE 2012
U.S. International Trade Commission  / http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2013/er0917ll1.htm?source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Merchandise Trade Deficit Up 1 percent, Imports Up 3 percent, Exports Up 4 percent As Macroeconomic Shocks in Key Economies Limit Global Trade 2012

Merchandise Trade Deficit Up 1 percent, Imports Up 3 percent, Exports Up 4 percent As Macroeconomic Shocks in Key Economies Limit Global Trade 2012

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2012, an annual compendium of data and analysis examining changes in trade with key U.S. partners and in important U.S. industries, was released today by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC).

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, fact-finding federal agency, releases the information in a web-based format that provides details and reasons for key shifts in trade and that can be searched by country or industry sector.

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2012 can be accessed at
http://www.usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/tradeshifts/2012/index.htm.

Users will find a comprehensive review of U.S. trade performance in 2012, focusing on changes in U.S. exports, imports, and trade balances of agricultural and manufacturing industries, key natural resources, as well as changes in U.S. trade with major partners and country groups. Also included are profiles of the U.S. industry and market for over 250 industry groups and subgroups, offering data for 2008-12 on consumption, production, and trade.

The report examines:

• industry developments and the principal drivers influencing trends in U.S. trade;

• leading products the United States exported to and imported from its most important trading partners and the key factors influencing trade in these products;

• price fluctuations, increased domestic production of energy-related products, greater consumer access to financing for the purchase of durable products, and other major factors affecting U.S. trade in 2012.

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2012 is also available as a CD-ROM. Users can obtain the CD-ROM version through the "Order CD-ROM" link on the USITC web site or by calling 202-205-2000, or by writing to the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.


Applications for  2014 Wool Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) Licenses  are now available. Completed applications must be postmarked by October 15, 2013
International Trade Administration / Office of Textile & Apparel (OTEXA) / http://otexa.ita.doc.gov/

The Wool Fabric Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) offers a temporary duty reduction for imports of two types of worsted wool fabrics to eligible U.S. manufacturers of men’s and boys’ worsted wool suits, suit-type jackets and trousers. The program allows duty relief for U.S. manufacturers of tailored wool apparel, reducing their costs and allowing them to be more cost competitive in domestic and export markets. The TRQ applies to a limited annual volume of two types of worsted wool fabrics (fine worsted wool fabrics and coarser worsted wool fabrics). The in-quota duty rate for the fine fabrics is zero; the in-quota duty rate for the coarser fabrics is 10 percent. The regular MFN duty rate for these fabrics is 25 percent. Eligible companies may apply for benefits by submitting a notarized affidavit and supporting documentation per the instructions contained in a Federal Register notice published each year in August/September.

Application


Port Cargo Volume in August Hits 6-Year High
Port of Long Beach / http://www.polb.com/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=1211&TargetID=1

Strong imports, exports fuel busiest month since 2007

Containerized cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach surged 16 percent in August compared to the same month one year ago, with double-digit percentage gains in both imports and exports.

August 2013 is not only the busiest month in 2013 so far, but is the busiest month for cargo at Long Beach since October 2007. August through October each year is traditionally the “peak season” for ocean-borne imports, as retailers prepare for a rise in buying as the end-of-the-year holidays approach.

A total of 630,292 TEUs (or twenty-foot equivalent container units) moved through Long Beach in August. Imports increased 19.2 percent to 327,817 TEUs. Exports were up by 20.2 percent to 154,118 TEUs.

Empties were up 5.8 percent to 148,357 TEUs. With imports exceeding exports, empties are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.

For the first eight months of calendar 2013, cargo container volume is up 13.6 percent ? including 16.2 percent more imports, 10.9 percent more exports and 11 percent more empties.

With larger and larger ships visiting more frequently since the end of 2012, Port officials are working to offer premier customer service and facilities to the international shipping industry.

For the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.

For more details on the cargo numbers, visit www.polb.com/stats.


FDA Prohibits Manufacture of FDA-Regulated Drugs from Ranbaxy's Mohali, India, Plant and Issues Import Alert
U.S. Food & Drug Administration / http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm368445.htm

Agency issues import alert and adds this facility to existing consent decree

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued an import alert under which U.S. officials may detain at the U.S. border drug products manufactured at Ranbaxy Laboratories, Ltd.’s facility in Mohali, India. The firm will remain on the import alert until the company complies with U.S. drug manufacturing requirements, known as current good manufacturing practices (CGMP).
 
“The FDA is committed to using the full extent of its enforcement authority to ensure that drugs made for the U.S. market meet federally mandated quality standards,” said Howard Sklamberg, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “We want American consumers to be confident that the drugs they are taking are of the highest quality, and the FDA will continue to work to prevent potentially unsafe products from entering the country.”
 
The FDA also ordered that the Mohali facility be subject to certain terms of the consent decree1 of permanent injunction entered against Ranbaxy in January 2012. The decree contains provisions to ensure CGMP compliance at certain Ranbaxy facilities, including in Paonta Sahib and Dewas, India, as well as provisions addressing data integrity issues at those two facilities. Ranbaxy’s Paonta Sahib and Dewas facilities have been on FDA import alert since 2008.
 
The FDA exercised its authority under a provision in the consent decree permitting it to order that terms of the decree be extended to a Ranbaxy-owned or operated facility if an inspection determines that the facility is in violation of Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or FDA regulations, including CGMP. CGMP requirements serve as the primary regulatory safeguard over drug manufacturing and must be followed by companies to ensure manufacturing quality.
 
In September and December 2012, FDA inspections identified significant CGMP violations at Ranbaxy’s Mohali facility, including failure to adequately investigate manufacturing problems and failure to establish adequate procedures to ensure manufacturing quality.
 
Under the decree, Ranbaxy is prohibited from manufacturing FDA-regulated drugs at the Mohali facility and introducing drugs into interstate commerce, including into the United States, from the Mohali facility until the firm’s methods, facilities, and controls used to manufacture drugs at the Mohali facility are established, operated, and administered in compliance with CGMP. Ranbaxy is required to hire a third-party expert to conduct a thorough inspection of the Mohali facility and certify to the FDA that the facilities, methods, processes, and controls are adequate to ensure continuous compliance with CGMP. Once the agency is satisfied that Ranbaxy has come into compliance with CGMP, Ranbaxy will be permitted to resume manufacturing and distribution of FDA-regulated drugs at the Mohali facility.
 
The agency does not anticipate that this action will cause a supply disruption or shortage of drugs in the United States.
 
The FDA recommends that patients not disrupt their drug therapy because this could jeopardize their health. Individuals who are concerned about their medications should talk with their health care professional.


Concern Expressed Over Impact of China’s New VAT
Federal Maritime Commission / http://www.fmc.gov/concern_expressed_over_impact_of_china%e2%80%99s_new_vat/

During its closed meeting today, the Commission discussed the People’s Republic of China’s new regulations on implementation of a nationwide value added tax (VAT) on international transportation services. This new tax was implemented by China on August 1, 2013.

A number of maritime industry stakeholders have expressed concerns regarding the application of the VAT. The Commission has now received requests for assistance from the shipping community to clarify the application and scope of the VAT. At this time, Commission staff is gathering information on the VAT by cooperating with other U.S. federal agencies, our U.S. Embassy and various U.S. Consulates in China. In addition, staff is gathering information from the private sector including carriers and non-vessel-operating common carriers (NVOCCs).

The Commission is concerned that there may be negative impacts on oceanborne international commerce between the United States and China. Ocean carriers and NVOCCs regulated by the Commission appear to be collecting the new tax. The Commission has interest in laws, rules, and policies that may have an adverse impact on U.S. shipping, and which may merit Commission attention under section 19 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1920 or the Foreign Shipping Practices Act. In light of today’s discussion, the Commission is considering a range of options to obtain further clarity on the application of this new tax regime. 


USDA Restores Important Check and Balance on Retail Pet Sales to Ensure Health, Humane Treatment
U.S. Department of Agriculture / http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2013/09/retail_pet_final_rule.shtml

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2013--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has revised the definition of “retail pet store” under the Animal Welfare Act to restore an important check and balance that helps ensure the health and humane treatment of pet animals sold sight unseen.

The previous definition of “retail pet store” was developed more than 40 years ago, before the Internet provided an alternate method of selling pets to the public.  Some breeders were selling pet animals sight unseen, without providing an opportunity for the buyer to observe the animal prior to purchase, as was intended by the regulation.  APHIS is revising the definition in its regulations to bring animals involved in these transactions under the Animal Welfare Act so that they can be monitored by our Agency for health and humane treatment.

“Requiring these breeders to adhere to the Animal Welfare Act standards is important because we know that if the federal standards are being met, the animals are getting humane care and treatment” said Ed Avalos, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs.  “By revising the definition of retail pet store to better suit today’s marketplace, we will now improve the welfare of more pet animals sold sight-unseen.”

Today’s announcement fulfills a commitment APHIS made in response to an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit on dog breeders.  The 2010 audit found that more than 80 percent of sampled breeders were not being monitored or inspected to ensure their animals’ overall health and humane treatment resulting in some buyers receiving unhealthy pets—especially dogs.  Instead, these breeders were selling pets over the Internet and claiming “retail pet store” status, exempting themselves from oversight by both consumers and APHIS.  

With this regulatory change, APHIS has acted on the recommendation made by the OIG and restored the definition of retail pet store to its original intent:  a place of business or residence at which the seller, buyer and the animal available for sale are physically present so that the buyer may personally observe the animal and help ensure its health prior to purchasing or taking custody of it.  

Traditional, “brick and mortar” pet stores will continue to be exempt from federal licensing and inspection requirements under the Animal Welfare Act.  However, Internet-based businesses and other businesses that sell animals sight unseen must now be licensed and inspected by APHIS to ensure the pets they sell to the public receive minimum standards of care.  

Many animal rescue groups, pounds, shelters and humane societies will continue to be exempt from APHIS regulations.  Also exempt are the following:  people who breed and sell working dogs; people selling rabbits for food, fiber (including fur) or for the preservation of bloodlines; children who raise rabbits as part of a 4-H project; operations that raise, buy and sell farm animals for food or fiber (including fur); and businesses that deal only with fish, reptiles and other cold-blooded animals.

The change in regulations will also increase from three to four the number of breeding females (dogs, cats or small exotic/wild pocket pets) that people may maintain before they would be required to be licensed under the Animal Welfare Act.  This will allow APHIS to better concentrate its resources on ensuring the welfare of animals at larger breeding operations.  Breeders who maintain four or fewer breeding females are considered hobby breeders who already provide sufficient care to their animals without APHIS’ oversight – provided they only sell the offspring of animals born and raised on their premises for pets or exhibition.  

APHIS already regulates the commercial sale of pet animals on the wholesale side to ensure that animals bred at wholesale facilities are receiving humane care and treatment.  

With Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, APHIS works tirelessly to create and sustain opportunities for America’s farmers, ranchers and producers. Each day, APHIS promotes U.S. agricultural health, regulates genetically engineered organisms, administers the Animal Welfare Act, and carries out wildlife damage management activities, all to help safeguard the nation’s agriculture, fishing and forestry industries. In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected states and other countries to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America’s agricultural exports, valued at more than $137 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.
 
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