USTR Dismisses GSP Product Reviews, Accepts Country Petition, Launches 2011 Review
Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has announced the following with respect to its annual reviews of the Generalized System of Preferences.
No CNL Actions from 2010 Review. Given the lapse in GSP authorization through much of 2011, there will be no actions taken in 2011 with respect to competitive need limitations, including no CNL-related removals of products from GSP eligibility and no redesignations of GSP-eligible products currently subject to CNL exclusions for specific beneficiary countries.
USTR is also dismissing the petitions it accepted in December 2010 requesting waivers of CNL-related exclusions for lysine and its esters from Brazil (HTS 2922.41.00), pneumatic tires from Sri Lanka (HTS 4011.93.80), certain rubber gloves from Thailand (HTS 4015.19.10) and calcium silicon ferroalloys from Argentina (HTS 7202.99.20).
Petition on Worker Rights in Georgia Accepted. USTR has accepted as part of its 2010 GSP review a petition alleging that the Republic of Georgia is violating the worker rights criteria. USTR notes that this is the only country practice petition accepted as part of the 2010 review.
USTR will hold a hearing on this petition Jan. 24, 2012. Pre-hearing briefs and requests to appear at the hearing are due no later than Jan. 10. All post-hearing briefs must be submitted no later than Feb. 14.
2011 Product and Country Practices Review Initiated. USTR is accepting petitions to modify the list of products eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP and to modify the GSP status of certain beneficiary developing countries because of country practices. Country practice petitions and product petitions other than those requesting CNL waivers are due by 5:00 p.m. Dec. 5. Petitions requesting CNL waivers are due by 5:00 p.m. 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).
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Help Us Spread the Word – On November 9, “This is Just a Test”
FEMA / www.fema.gov
Over the past few months, we have written on this blog about the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, which is now less than two weeks away. The test will take place on Wednesday, November 9th at 2:00 pm eastern standard time, and will be the first time this system, which is often tested and used by officials at the local level, will be tested across the entire country.
The national Emergency Alert System is an alert and warning system can be activated by the President, if needed, to provide information to the American public during emergencies. NOAA’s National Weather Service, governors, and state and local emergency authorities also use parts of the system to issue more localized emergency alerts. The test is an important exercise in ensuring that the system is effective in communicating critical information to the public in the event of a real national emergency. It is a critical communications tool that can provide alerts, warning and information rapidly across multiple television and radio platforms.
Our top priority is to make sure that all members of the public know that this test is coming up – and that it is just a test. For most of us, this test will look and sound very similar to the local tests of the Emergency Alert System that we often see on TV or hear on the radio.
But as we always say here at FEMA, we’re just part of the team – and we’re counting on all of you to help us spread the word in your communities, with your co-coworkers, neighbors, friends and loved ones.
To help do that, we have put together a couple of videos you can use to help explain what this test is and what people can expect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSpH2_CyQmE
CBP Revises Requirements for Post-Importation Preference Claims with Classification Change
Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com
U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued Oct. 31 administrative guidance amending a June 23 memo concerning the scope and administration of 19 USC 1520(d) post-importation preference claims (520(d) claims). CBP will now allow such claims to include a classification change or, under certain limited situations, a value change where the change directly affects the preference claim. This revised policy eliminates the need to simultaneously employ standard administrative remedies to make such corrections.
19 USC 1520(d) allows for a preference claim to be made within one year of the date of importation if a claim was not made at entry summary, and it is the only mechanism to make a post-importation preference claim on certain free trade agreements. CBP had previously stated that this statutory provision only allows changes to the entry summary that bear directly on the preference claim but does not include changes to tariff classification or valuation. As a result, importers and brokers were required to use existing regulatory provisions to make corrections to an entry summary; i.e., a post-entry amendment, a post-summary correction or a 19 USC 1514 protest.
Under CBP’s new guidance, importers may make a classification or valuation change to the entry line on which a preference claim is being made if that change enables the good to meet the terms of the preference program using 520(d). Importers will not have to file a PEA, PSC or protest for these types of changes. However, any changes to entry lines not included in the preference claim will need to be changed via those standard procedures.
Ports have been advised to review any decisions made pursuant to the June 23 memo to see if further actions are now necessary. Importers should also review any such submissions to ensure that their claims are processed properly and in accordance with this new guidance.
FTC Seeks Public Input in Review of Textile Labeling Rules
Federal Trade Commission / www.ftc.gov
As part of the Federal Trade Commission's systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides, the FTC is seeking public comment on its Textile Rules, which require that textiles sold in the United States carry labels disclosing the generic names and percentages by weight of the fibers in the product, the manufacturer or marketer name, and the country where the product was processed or manufactured. The FTC's Textile Rules implement the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act.
The FTC last formally reviewed the Textile Rules in 1998. Since 1992, the FTC has reviewed all its rules and guides on a rotating basis to ensure they are up-to-date, effective, and not overly burdensome. The agency relies on input from the public, including consumers, businesses, advocates, industry experts and others, to help it decide whether rules and guides should be updated, left as is, or even rescinded.
In reviewing the Textile Rules, the FTC seeks comments on the benefits and costs of the rules, as well as whether the Commission should:
- modify the provision regarding generic names of manufactured fibers;
- clarify provisions for products containing elastic material and trimmings;
- address the use of multiple languages in required disclosures;
- clarify disclosure requirements for print and online advertising;
- clarify or reconsider the Rules' list of products excluded from the Textile Act;
- add or clarify terms in the Rules; and
- modify consumer and business education materials.
The FTC also seeks comment on the benefits and costs of the Textile Act's requirement that businesses use identification issued by the FTC under certain circumstances, and the extent to which retailers obtain guarantees for textile products and whether the extent or manner of textile importation indicates that the guarantee provisions of the Textile Rules and Act should be modified.
The Commission vote approving the Advance 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 January 3, 2012. All comments received will be posted at www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm. (FTC File No. P948404; the staff contact is Robert M. Frisby, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2098)
The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC's online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC's website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics. Like the FTC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
Sampling Method and ‘Offsetting’ Added to CBP Regulations
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
Washington — U.S. Customs and Border Protection published on Oct. 25 a final rule in the Federal Register amending the agency’s regulations to add provisions for the use of statistical sampling and offsetting overpayments and underpayments of duty, fees and taxes under certain conditions. It also allows importers to use the same techniques in their internal company customs-related operations.
Statistical sampling, a method already in practice but not explicitly provided for in CBP regulations, is an important tool available to both the public and CBP auditors for examining customs entries. This method allows evaluation results of a selected reduced number of items to be applied to the entire universe of records, permitting conclusions to be drawn about the universe with a high degree of accuracy. The use of statistical sampling techniques is a practice recognized in both government and industry.
When statistical sampling is properly applied, it produces greater efficiency in review processes, reducing cost, and allowing CBP and importers to best use resources to evaluate import operations.
The revisions also define procedures for offsetting (netting) overpayments against underpayments on certain customs entries when identified during CBP audits. However, CBP will consider allowing offset circumstances when discovered during the preparation of importer disclosures which meet the requirements of the prior disclosure regulations (19 USC 162.74).
For the complete information on the revision made to CBP regulations, please review the final rule entitled “CBP Audit; Use of Sampling Methods and Offsetting of Overpayments and Over-Declarations.” This rule is available on cbp.gov here: This rule is available on cbp.gov here: ( Federal Register Notices 2011 - GPO Access )
CBP Seizes Diseased Palm Leaves
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
Houston – U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists intercepted a first-time-in-port plant disease during a routine inspection of dried palm leaves. The shipment arrived at George Bush Intercontinental Airport Air Cargo from Brazil, Oct. 18.
A CBP agriculture specialist noticed a visible sign of disease on several sections of the palm leaves. Several samples were submitted to the local Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service identifiers.
The APHIS identifier determined the disease to be Chalara urceolata Nag Raj & W.B. Kendr. (Hyphomycetes) It is a saprobic fungus of dead stems mainly found in herbaceous plants, and is known to occur in Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand. Its presence on decorative materials will speed the process of deterioration, which minimizes the quality appearance of products.
This interception is a result of the collaboration efforts between a multi-agency Pest Risk Assessment Committee. It consists of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Texas Department of Agriculture, and Customs and Border Protection. Their primary objective is to analyze data and intelligence to determine whether the information is conducive for a special operation, project, or other resolution. Additionally, they review existing agriculture programs, identify training needs between agencies, and communicate with industry and stakeholders.
The palm leaves shipment was subsequently destroyed.
Caribbean Airlines Fined for Improperly Limiting Reimbursements for Delayed Baggage
Department of Transportation / www.dot.gov
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined Caribbean Airlines, a carrier based in Trinidad and Tobago, $60,000 for limiting reimbursements for lost, damaged and delayed baggage to less than consumers were entitled under an international treaty.
“Both domestic and international travelers have a right to be fairly compensated for lost, delayed and damaged baggage,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Consumers have the right to be treated fairly when they fly, and we will continue to take enforcement action when their rights are violated.”
Under the Montreal Convention, an international agreement that sets liability limits for international air transportation, airlines are liable for damages caused by delayed baggage up to a limit that is the equivalent of just under $1,800 in U.S. currency, unless the carrier has taken all reasonable measures to prevent the damage or it was impossible to take these measures. The Convention requires carriers to compensate passengers for loss, damage or delay of baggage on international flights in most cases. It also forbids carriers from setting a lower baggage compensation limit for international flights or from refusing to accept liability for the loss of any types of baggage, such as jewelry, electronics, or other high-value items.
A review of Caribbean’s website last spring by the Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office led to an investigation of the carrier’s baggage liability policies, revealing numerous violations of the Convention between March 1, 2010 and April 30, 2011. Caribbean routinely told passengers that it was not liable for the loss of irreplaceable or high-value items such as electronics, jewelry, cameras or cash, and the carrier’s website also stated that it would not compensate passengers for the loss of these items. In a number of cases, passengers found that some of these expensive items had been removed from carry-on bags they were required to check after boarding because of cabin space limitations.
In addition, Caribbean violated the Convention by regularly refusing to pay claims for damaged baggage and by limiting payments for buying necessities due to delayed bags to $25-$75 per day. Caribbean also frequently required passengers to file a report on their missing property before leaving the airport terminal, which unreasonably limited the time they had to discover that items were missing from their baggage.
The consent order is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2011-0003.
Agents Net More than $6.6 Million Worth of Drugs over Weekend
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov
Edinburg, Texas - U.S. Border Patrol agents from the Rio Grande Valley Sector netted more than 8,200 pounds of marijuana in multiple seizures over the weekend.
The largest seizure occurred Saturday near Donna, Texas, when agents assigned to the Weslaco Station spotted a suspicious minivan traveling north from the Rio Grande. As agents approached the vehicle, the driver made a U-turn and headed back south. The driver and a passenger abandoned the vehicle near the river and fled to Mexico. Inside the van, agents found more than 1,500 pounds of marijuana.
Another large seizure took place Sunday near Fronton, Texas, when agents assigned to the Rio Grande City Station saw a marijuana-laden Ford F-150 driving away from the river. When the pickup’s driver noticed the approaching agents, he jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the nearby brush ─ leaving behind nearly 1,200 pounds of marijuana.
Additional seizures brought the estimated value of marijuana seized from Friday through Sunday to more than $6.6 million. It was turned over to the appropriate agencies for further investigation.
To report suspicious activity, call the Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector’s toll-free telephone number at (800) 863-9382.
Secretary Napolitano Announces "If You See Something, Say Something™" Campaign Partnership with the American Hotel and Lodging Association and LodgeNet
Department of Homeland Security / www.dhs.gov
WASHINGTON— Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today joined American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) President and CEO Joe McInerney, LodgeNet Interactive Corporation Chairman and CEO Scott Petersen, and W Hotel General Manager Ed Baten to announce the new partnership between the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign and the AH&LA and LodgeNet—highlighting the Department’s continued partnership with the private sector to ensure our nation’s safety and security.
“This private sector partnership is another example of how DHS and our nation’s hospitality industry are working together to protect our country, recognizing that security and economic prosperity often go hand-in-hand,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Each of us has a role to play in helping keep America safe, and time and again, we have seen the value of public vigilance in thwarting terrorism. Sending the simple but effective “If You See Something, Say Something™” message to the millions of guests that stay at hotels and motels each year is a significant step in engaging the full range of partners in our homeland security efforts. America’s hospitality industry is a vital engine for job growth and sustainment—and with partnerships like this it is also becoming an increasingly important partner in our nation’s security.”
The Department’s “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign partnership with the AH&LA and LodgeNet will feature a 15 second public service announcement that will air on the ‘Welcome Channel’ in hotel rooms across all 50 states. The PSA will be deployed into 5,462 hotels including the Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood, Intercontinental, Best Western, Red Roof Inn, Radisson, and others, covering 1.2 million hotel rooms nationwide.
“We are pleased to participate in this campaign to make travel safer across our great country and to complement on the guest room side what the AH&LA has already done so effectively in educating hotel staff,” said Scott C. Petersen, Chairman and CEO of LodgeNet. “With 98% of all hotel guests turning on the TV during their stay – and with PSAs for this campaign now playing in more than 1.2 million guest rooms across all 50 states – we will be conveying this vital message of vigilance to many millions of travelers throughout the United States.”
The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign—originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now licensed to DHS for a nationwide campaign—is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.
Over the past year, DHS has collaborated closely with federal, state, local and private sector partners, as well as the Department of Justice, to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign and the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative—an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism, crime and other threats; standardize how those observations are documented and analyzed; and ensure the sharing of those reports with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led Joint Terrorism Task Forces for further investigation.
DHS will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign nationally to help America’s business, communities and citizens remain vigilant and play an active role in keeping the country safe.
For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov.