New U.S.-Canada Action Plan Aims to Implement “Perimeter Approach” to Security and Trade
Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com
Following a Dec. 7 meeting between President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the U.S. and Canada released an action plan detailing the ways they intend to implement the shared vision for security and economic competitiveness that they announced in February. This action plan establishes joint priorities within four areas of cooperation: addressing threats early; trade facilitation, economic growth and jobs; cross-border law enforcement; and critical infrastructure and cyber security. The Department of Homeland Security is requesting comments on this plan no later than Jan. 9, 2012.
Among the trade-related steps set forth by this plan are the following.
Inbound Cargo Screening
The U.S. and Canada plan to develop an integrated, multi-modal customs and transportation security regime that will reduce duplication and move activities away from the border. Building on previous agreements and existing programs of work, authorities will do the following.
• Evaluate and achieve mutual recognition of respec¬tive air cargo security programs for passenger aircraft by March 2012, with the goal of reducing the number of air cargo loads rescreened to zero by that date.
• Develop a common set of required data elements for all modes of transport for advance security screening of cargo by June 30, 2012, identify and evaluate by September 2012 options under which trusted traders could use alternate processes and approaches to submit advance data elements, and implement the common sets of required data, as well as any alternate processes and approaches for trusted traders, by December 2013.
• Develop a joint strategy to address security and contraband risks (with other areas of activity to be added over time) associated with shipments arriving from offshore based on informed risk management. The two sides anticipate achieving a clear reduction in the number and volume of transshipments subjected to reinspection at the border on an annual basis.
Phase I of this process will see the development of the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy by June 30, 2012. Phase II will begin in September 2012 with the launch of pilot programs intended to validate and shape the implementation of the strategy, which is then anticipated to begin in 2014. Canada’s pilots will involve pre-load information and targeting in the air mode as well as perimeter vetting and examination of inbound marine cargo at Prince Rupert destined for Chicago by rail and of marine cargo arriving at Montreal destined to the U.S. by truck. U.S. pilots will involve the harmonization of targeting and risk assessment methodologies and the targeting and risk assessment of cargo arriving from offshore at a major U.S. port destined for Canada as well as the testing of a new in-bond module for processing in-transit/in-bond (Canada–United States–Canada) cargo traveling by truck. Canada will build new cargo examination facilities in Halifax and Vancouver as necessary to support of this initiative.
Supply Chain Security
The U.S. and Canada will adopt a common framework for trusted trader programs that will align requirements, enhance member benefits and provide applicants with the opportunity to submit one application to multiple programs.
Under tier one of this framework the two sides will harmonize the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the Partners in Protection program and offer new benefits, includ¬ing an automated enrollment system. Free and Secure Trade benefits will be extended to members in these programs at agreed locations beginning in mid-2012, and Canada will develop an interoperable communication portal similar to that of the U.S. by December 2013.
Under tier two, Canada’s Customs Self-Assessment and the U.S. Importer Self-Assessment programs will be aligned to the greatest extent possible while enabling members the flexibility to select the benefits that meet their business needs. A detailed comparison and review of these two programs will be completed by June 2012. Membership in these programs will be extended to non-resident importers between the United States and Canada. Finally, a report on pilot programs or new initiatives to collect advance data through more efficient means that are more responsive to shippers’ business processes will be completed by September 2012.
By July 2012 Canada will initiate a one-year pilot to provide tier-two benefits to the processed food sector, enabling participants to provide transactional data to the regulatory authority post-border and access expedited clearance processes and lanes at the border in Canada. Within one year of the pilot’s successful completion, permanent access to these program benefits will be provided to all approved companies by Canada. The two sides will also explore product-specific pilots aimed at lowering inspection rates for certain industry sectors based on regulatory compliance history. Canada will lead a pilot in the agri-food sector and the United States will lead a pilot in the pharmaceutical sector.
New Initiatives to Expedite Cargo
Pre-inspection/Pre-clearance. The U.S. and Canada will negotiate by December 2012 a pre-clearance agreement in the land, rail and marine modes to provide the legal framework and reciprocal authorities necessary for the CBP and CBSA to effectively carry out their security, facilitation and inspection processes in the other country. CBSA will conduct full pre-clearance of goods and travelers at Massena, N.Y., and negotiations to this end will be completed by December 2012. CBP will implement by September 2012 a truck cargo facilitation pilot project in at least one location in Canada, with an expansion to additional sites possible. A joint working group will complete by December 2012 a study identifying and addressing any policy, program or operational changes required to move inspections for wood packaging material away from the border.
Single Window for Information Submission. CBP and CBSA will provide traders with a single window through which they can electronically submit all information required to comply with customs and other government regulations. As part of this process the data requirements of all participating government departments and agencies (but only information essential for regulatory purposes) will be converted to electronic form by 2013. As an interim milestone, border-related decision processes for at least the top four priority departments and agencies will be converted to electronic form no later than December 2013.
Harmonizing Low-Value Shipment Processes. The value thresholds for expedited customs clearance will be increased to $2,500 from $2,000 in the U.S. and $1,600 in Canada.
Evaluate Effect of Border Fees. Both countries will develop an inventory of fees and charges at the border that sets out the purpose and legal basis of those fees, how they are collected, how much is collected, their intended use and the rationale for collecting them at the border. A third party will be commissioned to conduct an economic impact assessment of such fees, includ¬ing their cumulative effect, on the competitive position of three economic sectors in the U.S. and Canada for which cross-border activity is important. A report on these efforts will be made public by Sept. 30, 2012.
Authorities have committed to make significant investments in physical infrastructure at key crossings to relieve congestion and speed the movement of traffic across the border. These upgrades may include customs plaza replacement and redevelopment, additional primary inspection lanes and booths, expanded or new secondary inspection facilities, and expanded or new connecting roads, highway interchanges and bridges. As initial priorities, the U.S. will put forward for approval Alexandria Bay, N.Y.; Blue Water Bridge, Mich.,; Lewiston Bridge, N.Y.; and Peace Bridge, N.Y., and Canada will put forward Emerson, Manitoba; Lacolle, Quebec; Lansdowne, Ontario; North Portal, Saskatchewan; and Peace Bridge, Ontario. Coordinated project investment and implementation plans will be developed by June 30, 2012.
Food, Plant and Animal Safety
With respect to food safety systems, by Dec. 31, 2012, the U.S. and Canada will develop joint methodologies, including audit criteria, for conducting audits; develop joint audit plans to pilot the evaluation of foreign food safety inspection systems in third countries, the outcomes of which will be used to establish the protocol and a plan for future joint audits; and develop a protocol for what information from audits can be shared, how it may be shared, and how to use the findings of these site visits in risk management decisions.
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U.S., European Union Closer to Trade Mutual Recognition Decision
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
Washington – U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the European Union Taxation and Customs Union Directorate agreed to language for the U.S.-EU Mutual Recognition Decision today which will lead to its signing in the Spring of 2012. Once signed, the Mutual Recognition Decision will recognize the respective trade partnership programs of the U.S. and the EU—CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the EU’s Authorized Economic Operator—with reciprocal benefits.
“The U.S. and the European Union are one step closer to a mutual recognition decision that will facilitate trade while increasing security of the global supply chain,” said CBP Assistant Commissioner Thomas Winkowski.
In 2007, CBP and TAXUD initiated efforts to implement Mutual Recognition between C-TPAT and AEO. Mutual Recognition is an industry partnership program that creates a unified and sustainable security posture that can assist in securing and facilitating global cargo trade. Upon achieving mutual recognition with a foreign partner, one program may recognize the validation findings of the other program.
C-TPAT is a voluntary government-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen and improve overall international supply chain and U.S. border security. C-TPAT recognizes that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with the ultimate owners of the international supply chain such as importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers. CBP currently has mutual recognition with: New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea and Jordan.
GSP Petition Deadline Extended to Dec. 30
Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has extended through Dec. 30 the deadline for all petitions submitted as part of the 2011 annual review of the Generalized System of Preferences. This includes petitions to modify the list of products eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP or modify the GSP status of certain beneficiary developing countries because of country practices, which had been due by Dec. 5, as well as petitions requesting competitive need limitation waivers, which had been due by Dec. 16.
Interested parties, including foreign governments, may submit petitions to (1) designate additional articles as eligible for GSP benefits, including only for countries designated as least-developed BDCs or only for countries designated as beneficiary sub-Saharan African countries under the African Growth and Opportunity Act; (2) withdraw, suspend or limit the application of GSP duty-free treatment with respect to any article, either for all BDCs, LDBDCs or beneficiary SSA countries or any of these countries individually; (3) waive the CNL for individual BDCs with respect to specific GSP-eligible articles; or (4) otherwise modify GSP coverage. Interested parties may also submit petitions to review the GSP eligibility of any BDC with respect to any of the eligibility criteria in 19 USC 2462(b) and (c).
To Protect American Jobs, United States Announces Next Step in Dispute Against China
U.S. Trade Representative Defends Rights of American Chicken Producers at the World Trade Organization
Office of the United States Trade Representative / www.ustr.gov
Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States is requesting that the World Trade Organization (WTO) establish a dispute settlement panel to address China’s imposition of antidumping (AD) duties and countervailing duties (CVD) on imports of chicken “broiler products” from the United States. China imposed these duties in August and September of 2010, claiming that U.S. broiler products were subsidized and sold at less than fair value (i.e., “dumped”) into the Chinese market. Prior to the imposition of these duties, the United States was the largest exporter of broiler products to China. Since the imposition of duties, U.S. exports have fallen by nearly 90 percent.
“The United States will not stand idly by while China appears to have misused its trade remedy laws and put American jobs at risk,” said Ambassador Kirk. “We are serious about holding China accountable to its WTO commitments and ensuring that there is a level playing field for American businesses – including our farmers.”
Although WTO rules permit China to impose duties on imports of merchandise that are subsidized or dumped – provided those imports cause injury to the domestic industry – they also require WTO Members to follow specific procedures and apply defined legal standards when conducting the investigations that determine whether duties are warranted. The U.S. panel request alleges that Chinese authorities failed to abide by applicable procedures and legal standards, including by finding injury to China's domestic industry without objectively examining the evidence, by improperly calculating dumping margins and subsidization rates, and by failing to adhere to various transparency and due process requirements.
Requesting a panel is the next step in the WTO dispute settlement process after requesting consultations. On September 20, 2011, the United States requested consultations with China regarding China’s imposition of AD and CVD duties on chicken broiler products. Consultations were held in Geneva on October 28, 2011, but were unable to resolve the dispute.
On September 27, 2009, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) initiated AD and CVD investigations on chicken broiler products from the United States. Based on its findings, MOFCOM imposed on these products AD and CVD duties on September 26, 2010 and August 30, 2010, respectively.
In the AD investigation, MOFCOM imposed dumping duties ranging from 50.3 percent to 53.4 percent for the participating U.S. producers, and set an “all others” rate of 105.4 percent. In the CVD investigation, MOFCOM imposed countervailing duties of between 4.0 percent and 12.5 percent for the participating U.S. producers and an “all others” rate of 30.3 percent.
CBP Intercepts Vessel with 300 Kilos of Cocaine
Drugs value estimated at $6.3 million
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.org
(Saturday, December 03, 2011)
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico– A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) maritime patrol vessel intercepted yesterday afternoon a vessel with 10 bales with totaling 300 kilos/ 661.37pounds of cocaine about 50 miles north of the coast of Aguadilla.
Around 2:30 p.m., a Maritime Surveillance Aircraft from the CBP Caribbean Air and Marine Branch, spotted a vessel, described as a blue twin engine fiberglass vessel of approximately twenty-five feet in length, heading on a southeasterly course at approximately ten knots.
Two CBP marine interceptors, with Puerto Rico Police FURA agents on board, were launched to intercept the vessel along with a CBP medium lift helicopter who provided coverage for the marine units during the intercept.
Upon obtaining visual contact with the suspect vessel, persons on board started throwing large bales overboard, forcing one marine unit to stop pursuit to recover the packages in the water.
After a short pursuit the vessel yielded to the CBP marine unit.
Eight bales were recovered from the water and two bales onboard the vessel for a total of 10 bales of contraband. Five subjects, who claimed to be citizens of the Dominican Republic, were arrested.
The bales contained 254 bricks of a powdery substance which field tested positive to cocaine. The estimated value of the seizure is at $6.3 million dollars.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations assumed custody of the narcotics and the five individuals, for further investigation.
Trade Community Contact Information
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.org
U.S. Customs and Border Protection established the Industry Integration Center for Pharmaceuticals as a central point of contact for inquiries and resolution of issues regarding pharmaceutical imports. The Trade will be able to contact the Pharmaceuticals Center for assistance in the following areas.
- Technical guidance regarding pharmaceutical imports
- Clarification of CBP policies and procedures for pharmaceutical imports
- Assistance with CBP requests for information/action (CF-28s, CF-29s, etc.)
- Assistance with lengthy cargo holds on pharmaceutical shipments
- Information regarding counterfeit/substandard pharmaceutical imports
U.S. Department of Transportation Gives Green Light for I-5 Columbia River Crossing
U.S. Department of Transportation / www.dot.gov
WASHINGTON – Plans to replace the aging Interstate 5 Columbia River Crossing Bridges and build an interstate transit link can now move forward, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today.
The approval – known as a “record of decision” (ROD) – represents the final clearance of the project's environmental review and allows Oregon and Washington to begin right-of-way acquisition and construction.
“This project is a great example of why we need to strengthen our infrastructure. The old facility is outdated and it no longer meets the needs of the traveling public or commerce in the region.” said Secretary LaHood. “It is one more instance of why the Obama Administration is focusing on key transportation investments to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and provide travelers with affordable, efficient options for reaching their destinations.”
The Columbia River Crossing project will replace the I-5 bridges over the Columbia River that connect Vancouver, Wash., to Portland, Ore. At a cost of approximately $3 billion for bridge, transit and highway improvements, the project is considered a long-term, comprehensive solution to address safety and congestion problems on five miles of I-5 from State Route 500 in Vancouver to Victory Boulevard in Portland and will be funded through a combination of state and federal sources. In addition, numerous improvements to bike/pedestrian facilities will accommodate the bridge’s 1,000 daily pedestrians and 5,000 daily bicyclists anticipated by 2030.
“This is a vital transportation improvement on one of the busiest interstates in the country,” Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez said. “The new bridge will put people to work and help support business and economic growth.”
“We are making the long-sought after rail transit link between Portland and Vancouver possible,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said. “This is the type of forward-leaning project that will greatly benefit the entire region well into the future.”
Freight congestion is one of the key reasons behind the bridge replacement project. I-5 is the most important freight freeway on the West Coast linking international, national and regional markets in Canada, Mexico and the Pacific Rim with destinations throughout the western United States. Freight volumes moved by truck to and from the area are projected to increase over the years, causing additional delays and cost to shippers. Currently, the bridge serves nearly 130,000 vehicles daily with travel demand expected to grow to 180,000 vehicles daily by 2030.
The nearly three-mile light rail portion of the project will extend from Portland’s Expo Center MAX station to Clark College in Vancouver. It is expected that the transit rail project will reduce the duration of daily congestion on I-5 near the Columbia River by 60 percent. By 2030, the light rail line is expected to carry more than 22,000 daily passengers.
The current I-5 crossing of the Columbia River consists of two side-by-side bridges. The bridge carrying northbound traffic was built in 1916, and the bridge carrying southbound traffic was built in 1958. Both bridges are inadequate to carry the current traffic volumes, and the mechanical lift spans that are raised to accommodate river traffic bring interstate traffic to a standstill. The geometry of the bridges makes the existing crossing one of the most unsafe highway locations on the I-5 corridor – its crash rate is double that of similar bridges. In addition, the bridge does not meet the current bridge design standards for earthquakes.