U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk Calls for Swift Passage of Trade Agreements
Office of the U.S. Trade Represetatives / www.ustr.gov
President Obama Formally Submitted Legislation for S. Korea, Colombia, Panama Agreements Today
Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today called for swift congressional action on legislation for pending trade agreements between the United States and South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, along with renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms and expired trade preference programs. President Barack Obama formally submitted the legislation for the three pending trade agreements to Congress today.
“Growing American exports to South Korea, Colombia, and Panama will support tens of thousands of jobs here at home. We must take every opportunity to get America back to work, and Congress should pass these agreements without delay,” said Ambassador Kirk. “The House should also support jobs for American workers by supporting targeted assistance and training for those who may be displaced by trade. Taken together, the pending trade agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance advance a balanced trade agenda that opens new markets for our exporters and new opportunities for America’s working families.”
Under Trade Promotion Authority already granted by Congress, the legislation for the trade agreements may not be amended, and Congress has 90 days to hold up-or-down votes on each. Changes to the legislation would make it subject to normal rules and procedures, including amendment and filibuster.
In 2010 and 2011, the Obama Administration worked with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama to successfully address outstanding issues related to each of the three agreements. In particular, the Administration secured: greater U.S. access to the South Korean auto market; significantly increased labor rights and worker protections in Colombia; and enhanced tax transparency and labor rights in Panama. The Administration has been clear that once approved by Congress, agreements will enter into force only if trading partners are meeting their commitments; for instance, Colombia must successfully implement key elements of the agreed Action Plan Related to Labor Rights before the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement will enter into force. Colombia has met all milestones to date as specified in the Action Plan, including enactment of several far-reaching reforms.
Legislation for the U.S.-Colombia trade agreement also includes a renewal of the Andean Trade Preferences Act. ATPA was enacted in December 1991 to help Andean countries in their fight against drug production and trafficking by expanding their economic alternatives.
Late last month, the Senate approved legislation to renew the Generalized System of Preferences and also to streamline and save costs on a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance reforms. The Senate has sent that legislation to the House, where the Speaker has committed to its consideration in tandem with the pending trade agreements.
The Generalized System of Preferences expired in December 2010. It promotes economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for products from designated beneficiary countries and territories; GSP also supports American jobs and improves American competitiveness as many American businesses use GSP imports as inputs to manufacture goods in the United States.
TAA provides training and support for American workers who are negatively affected by trade and is traditionally in place as trade agreements pass. It is designed to help workers, firms, farmers and fishermen transition to alternative employment. The bipartisan compromise negotiated by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is consistent with the goals of the 2009 law that improved the scope and effectiveness of the program – for instance, covering Americans employed in the services sector in addition to U.S. manufacturing workers. TAA is an essential component of President Obama’s balanced trade agenda.
Camp Statement on Committee Approval of Free Trade Agreements
Committee of Ways & Means / http://waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=263129
Washington, DC – Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) issued the following statement today after the pending free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea were favorably reported out of Committee, thus clearing the way for formal consideration on the House floor:
“Today has been five years in the making and could not come at a better time for American workers, consumers and businesses. The agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea will help create and support 250,000 American jobs and add over $10 billion to our gross domestic product – all without adding one dime in new government spending. I look forward to the quick passage of these trade agreements and the TAA-GSP bill by the House.”
All three free trade agreements were favorably reported out of Committee on bipartisan basis.
The Colombia free trade agreement passed out of the Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 24-12.
The Panama free trade agreement passed out of the Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 32-3.
The South Korea free trade agreement passed out of the Ways and Means Committee by a vote of 31-5.
Bonds No Longer Allowed During AD/CV Provisional Measures
Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com
The International Trade Administration has issued a final rule that aims to strengthen the administration of antidumping and countervailing duty laws by making importers directly responsible for the payment of AD and CV duties. Effective for all AD/CV investigations initiated on the basis of petitions filed on or after Nov. 2, provisional measures during an investigation will normally take the form of a cash deposit, and importers will generally no longer be permitted to post bonds during the provisional measures period. The ITA notes that the circumstances under which it may allow the posting of bonds will be “rare and unusual” and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Provisional measures are applied during the period between the publication of the ITA’s preliminary affirmative AD or CV duty determination and the earlier of (1) the expiration of the applicable time period set forth in sections 703(d) and 733(d) the Tariff Act of 1930 or (2) the publication of the International Trade Commission’s final affirmative AD or CV injury determination. During this period the ITA is instructed by the Act to order the posting of a cash deposit, bond or other security, as it deems appropriate.
The ITA has stated that a key reason for requiring that provisional measures take the form of a cash deposit is to better ensure that importers bear full responsibility for any future AD and/or CV duties they may owe. While most of the duties on entries secured by a bond during the provisional measures period are ultimately collected, the ITA explained, these collections can be very slow and involve burdensome administrative problems for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Enviromental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation Sign Agreements to Join CBP Import Safety Center
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
Washington—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has signed agreements with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to advance information-sharing between federal agencies and improve targeting of imports for health and safety violations. EPA and PHSMA are now part of CBP’s Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC), a multi-agency center for targeting commercial shipments that pose potential threats to health and safety.
CTAC provides an avenue for agencies with import safety authority to streamline national operations and to share targeting expertise, tools and best practices. It also allows for a more targeted response to public safety threats, while simultaneously reducing duplicative examinations.
"By working together to determine which shipments are high-risk, the CTAC helps the government better protect consumers," said Allen Gina, assistant commissioner for CBP’s Office of International Trade. "At the same time, the CTAC helps eliminate unnecessary examinations and facilitates low-risk shipments, so everyone benefits."
EPA has been a partner with CBP in numerous consumer protection efforts. EPA’s inclusion in the CTAC will enhance interagency communication and collaboration to prevent the import of products which may pose a human health or environmental risk.
“Imports that do not meet the critical safeguards, established in our nation’s environmental laws, threaten public health and put companies that play by the rules at a disadvantage,” said Bob Perciasepe, deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. “By partnering with other federal agencies we can better target inspections to identify illegal or non-compliant shipments, ensure health and safety standards are met, and level the playing field for companies that follow the law.”
PHMSA protects the American public and the environment through a national field investigation program that ensures compliance with federal regulations covering safe and secure movement of hazardous materials, such as fireworks, batteries and energy products, throughout the U.S. by all transportation modes, including the nation’s pipelines.
“We must continue to find innovative ways to work together and improve our abilities to protect communities,” said Dr. Magdy El-Sibaie, PHMSA associate administrator for Hazardous Materials Safety. “Participation in the Import Safety Center and working closely with other federal agencies adds a new and very important way to investigate hazardous materials shipments.”
The addition of EPA and PHMSA brings the total number of agencies that are part of the CTAC to seven. The original CTAC partnership included the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and CBP. These agencies—each with their own statutory responsibilities for public safety—will work as a team to better target imports that should be examined for possible safety violations.
For additional information on the CTAC and import safety, please go to CBP.gov/Trade, and click on the Priority Trade Issues tab. ( Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center )
CBP Issues Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Potential Closure of Morses Line Border Crossing
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
Washington – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today will issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) seeking public comment to evaluate the potential closure of the Morses Line border crossing in Highgate Springs/Alburg, Vt.
The Morses Line border crossing, built in 1934, is CBP’s oldest land border crossing facility and requires significant changes to its current infrastructure and footprint to meet current operational, safety, and technological requirements. Based on internal analyses, feedback from the local community, and consultation with members of Congress, CBP is evaluating the potential closure of the Morses Line border crossing. CBP is seeking public comment on this potential closure.
If after a full review and consideration of the public comments and other assessments, CBP determines the Morses Line border crossing should be closed, CBP will publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register, which would propose the closure. If CBP determines the Morses Line crossing should remain open CBP will publish a notice in the Federal Register withdrawing this ANPRM.
The closest alternate border crossings are Highgate Springs in the Highgate Springs/Alburg, Vt. port of entry, which is approximately 17 miles away, and West Berkshire in the Richford, Vt. port of entry, which is approximately 10 miles away.
The public comment period will close 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. Comments can be submitted online through the Regulations website or by mail: Border Security Regulations Branch, Office of International Trade, Customs and Border Protection, Regulations and Rulings, Attention: Border Security Regulations Branch, 799 9th Street, NW, 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20229-1179. ( Regulations )
EU Repeals Certificate of Origin Requirement for Textiles and Apparel
Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com
The European Union issued Oct. 4 a regulation that eliminates effective from Oct. 24 the current requirement to present a certificate of origin (or an invoice declaration of origin in certain cases) to be able to import most apparel and a range of textile products into the EU. The regulation acknowledges that there is no reason to demand proof of origin when the products at hand can be imported into the EU without any constraints. The EU already has a comprehensive system to track the origin of imported merchandise, including a requirement to enter the country of origin in Box 34 of the single administrative document that importers have to complete for the release of goods for free circulation and an ex-post statistical surveillance system that monitors the impact of textile and apparel imports on the EU market.
However, companies doing business in the EU should keep in mind that textile and apparel products claiming preferential duty treatment still need to comply with all applicable certificate of origin and other documentary requirements to benefit from such preferential treatment.
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CBP Seizes $4.5 Million in Fake 'Lacoste' Sunglasses
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
30,300 Counterfeit Pairs Seized by CBP Officers at LA/Long Beach Seaport
Los Angeles -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and import specialists assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport discovered and seized 30,300 pairs of sunglasses in violation of the Lacoste trademark in a shipment arriving from China.
On Sept. 15, CBP officers seized the infringing shipment with a domestic value of $48,000. If the sunglasses had genuine Lacoste trademarks, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the shipment would have been $4.5 million.
“CBP officers and import specialists at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex aggressively safeguard one of America’s valuable assets, intellectual property,” said Todd C. Owen, CBP director of field operations in Los Angeles. “The theft of intellectual property poses a serious threat to the vitality of our nation’s economy.”
Along with the negative effect on legitimate manufacturers, counterfeit sunglasses may not be impact resistant, may cause injury by shattering, and may fail to provide UV protection.
CBP plays a critical role in enforcing trade laws including the enforcement of intellectual property rights. Preventing the entry of counterfeit items is crucial to protecting consumers as well as the economy of the U.S.
In fiscal year 2010, CBP at Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport accomplished a record breaking year with 863 trade seizures with a domestic value exceeding $34 million. This is a 42% increase in the number of seizures from fiscal year 2009.