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CSMS # 59131379 - INFORMATION: Changes to AGOA Benefits for Mauritania, Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda; Extension of Duty-Free Benefits for Agriculture Imports from Israel - USCBP
This message is to inform the trade community of the following modifications pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 10692 (PP 10692) issued on December 29, 2023, and published in the Federal Register (89 FRN 437) on January 4, 2024.
The modifications are effective January 1, 2024, 12:01 a.m. ET and include:
1. The reinstatement of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Mauritania) as an African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) beneficiary country and designation as a lesser developed beneficiary sub-Saharan African country (LDBC),
2. The termination of AGOA benefits and LDBC designations for four sub-Saharan African countries: Central African Republic, the Gabonese Republic (Gabon), Republic of Niger (Niger), and the Republic of Uganda (Uganda).
3. The extension of the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement on certain agricultural products.
The African Growth Opportunity Act
The AGOA allows for duty-free benefits on approximately 5,351 eligible tariff items for commodities from designated sub-Saharan African countries as long as those countries meet AGOA eligibility requirements including progress toward a free market economy, pluralism, due process under the law and other hallmarks of a democratic society.
Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Effective January 1, 2024, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (Mauritania) is reinstated and designated as a LDBC under section 112(c) of the AGOA. To reflect this designation in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), general note 16(a) and note 2(d) to subchapter XIX of chapter 98 are modified to include Mauritania on the list of AGOA beneficiary countries and as a qualifying LDBC.
Goods imported from Mauritania entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after January 1, 2024, 12:01 a.m. ET are eligible to claim preferential tariff treatment under AGOA, by placing the Special Program Indicator (SPI) ‘D’ before the eligible tariff number. The goods must meet all applicable AGOA requirements.
Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda
Effective January 1, 2024, goods imported from the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda entered for consumption or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption are not eligible for preferential benefits under AGOA, Special Program Indicator (SPI) “D”.
The HTSUS, general note 16(a) and note 7(a) to subchapter II and note1 and note 2(d) to subchapter XIX of chapter 98 are modified to remove the mentioned four countries from the list of AGOA beneficiary countries and as qualifying LDBCs.
Post Summary Correction (PSC) and Protest (19 USC 1514)
Effective January 1, 2024, the post summary corrections (PSC) and 19 USC 1514 protest of entries with country of origin for the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda claiming the AGOA SPI “D” duty exemption must have entry date no later than December 31, 2023, to receive AGOA duty-free benefits. Otherwise, the AGOA duty-free benefit shall be denied.
United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement
Presidential Proclamation 10692 extends the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement benefits on eligible agricultural goods imported from Israel (as identified in Annex I of 89 FRN 437) effective January 1, 2024, 12:01 a.m. ET through December 31, 2024.
Reference Documents:
The Presidential Proclamation 10692 published on December 29, 2023:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2023/12/29/a-proclamation-to-take-certain-actions-under-the-african-growth-and-opportunity-act-and-for-other-purposes-2/
Federal Register Note – 89 FRN 437 published on January 4, 2024:
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2024/01/04/2024-00051/to-take-certain-actions-under-the-african-growth-and-opportunity-act-and-for-other-purposes
For more information on the AGOA:
https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/trade-development/preference-programs/african-growth-and-opportunity-act-agoa.
For more information on Trade in agriculture products of Israel: https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/israel-fta
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Federal Register Notices:
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Ripe Olives From Spain; Scheduling of Full Five-Year Reviews
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Frozen Warmwater Shrimp From India: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Changed Circumstances Review
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Large Diameter Welded Pipe From Greece: Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review: 2022-2023
• Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube From the Republic of Korea: Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2022-2023
• Sales at Less Than Fair Value; Determinations, Investigations, etc.: Boltless Steel Shelving Units Prepackaged for Sale From Thailand: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Amended Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value; Correction
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Polyester Textured Yarn From India: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2022
• Certain Glass Wine Bottles From the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Countervailing Duty Investigation
• 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (R-134a) From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results and Partial Rescission of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2022-2023
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Cellular Base Station Communication Equipment, Components Thereof, and Products Containing Same, Notice of Institution of Investigation
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Mattresses From Thailand: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2022-2023
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United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom Sanction Russian Cyber Actor Responsible for the Medibank Hack - U.S. Department of Treasury
WASHINGTON — Today (1/23/24), the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in coordination with Australia and the United Kingdom, designated Alexander Ermakov (Ermakov), a cyber actor who played a pivotal in the 2022 ransomware attack against Medibank Private Limited, an Australian healthcare insurer.
“Russian cyber actors continue to wage disruptive ransomware attacks against the United States and allied countries, targeting our businesses, including critical infrastructure, to steal sensitive data,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury Brian E. Nelson. “Today’s trilateral action with Australia and the United Kingdom, the first such coordinated action, underscores our collective resolve to hold these criminals to account.”
Yesterday, Australia sanctioned Ermakov for utilizing ransomware to attack the Medibank network and for the exfiltration of sensitive data of 9.7 million users of Medibank services. Today, the United States and the United Kingdom, in solidarity with Australia, are taking action against the same individual because of the similar risk presented by this actor to the United States and the UK.
This action demonstrates that the United States stands with our partners to disrupt ransomware actors who victimize the backbone of our economies and critical infrastructure. Ransomware attacks against healthcare firms, which are frequent targets of ransomware attacks in the United States, present risks to patient care, safety, and sensitive personally identifiable data. Russia continues to provide a safe haven to ransomware actors like Ermakov, enabling cyber actors to freely perpetrate ransomware attacks and other malicious cyber activities from Russia. In addition, Russia has also enabled ransomware attacks by cultivating and co-opting criminal hackers. Treasury has previously stressed that Russia must take concrete steps to prevent cyber criminals from freely operating in its jurisdiction.
REVIL RANSOMWARE AND THE MEDIBANK HACK

In October 2022, Ermakov infiltrated the Medibank network, one of Australia’s largest private health insurers, covering over 3.9 million people with over 4,000 employees. During the attack, Ermakov stole Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and sensitive health information linked to approximately 9.7 million current and former customers and authorized representatives. Ermakov and the other actors behind the Medibank hack are believed to be linked to the Russia-backed cybercrime gang REvil.
REvil was among the most notorious cybercrime gangs in the world until July 2021 when they disappeared. REvil is a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) operation and generally motivated by financial gain. REvil ransomware has been deployed on approximately 175,000 computers worldwide, with at least $200 million paid in ransom. Today’s action follows previous Treasury designations of two individuals for perpetuating Sodinokibi/REvil ransomware incidents against the United States.
RANSOMWARE ACTORS BEHIND MEDIBANK HACK

Ermakov is a Russian national and cybercriminal. He has been sanctioned for his role in the exfiltration and release on the dark net of 9.7 million records containing the personal information of Australians, including names, dates of birth, Medicare numbers, and sensitive medical information.
OFAC is designating Ermakov pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, as amended by E.O. 13757, for being responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, an activity described in subsection (a)(ii) of section 1 of E.O. 13694, as amended.
SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individual described above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of a blocked or designated person. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the individual designated today may themselves be exposed to sanctions.
The power and integrity of sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897 here. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.
For identifying information on the individuals designated today, click here.
To report a cyber-crime, contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
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FTC Issues Opinion Finding that TurboTax Maker Intuit Inc. Engaged in Deceptive Practices - Federal Trade Commission
Commission order prohibits Intuit from claiming a product or service is free unless it’s free for all or must disclose detail about who qualifies
The Federal Trade Commission has issued an Opinion and Final Order that Intuit Inc., the maker of the popular TurboTax tax filing software, engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of the FTC Act and deceived consumers when it ran ads for “free” tax products and services for which many consumers were ineligible.
In its Opinion, the Commission upheld the Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), D. Michael Chappell’s opinion that Intuit has engaged in deceptive advertising in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act and said that the defenses that Intuit raised lack merit. The Commission ordered Intuit to cease making the deceptive claims as outlined by complaint counsel, who are FTC staff in the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The Commission’s Final Order prohibits Intuit from advertising or marketing that any good or service is free unless it is free for all consumers or it discloses clearly and conspicuously and in close proximity to the “free” claim the percentage of taxpayers or consumers that qualify for the free product or service. Alternatively, if the good or service is not free for a majority of consumers, it could disclose that a majority of consumers do not qualify.
The order also requires that Intuit disclose clearly and conspicuously all the terms, conditions, and obligations that are required in order to obtain the “free” good or service. If the advertisement is space constrained and not displayed on any TurboTax website, app, email or other company owned or controlled platform, Intuit is not required to include all the terms and conditions in the advertisement itself but must disclose either that a majority of consumers do not qualify for free (if true) or the percentage that do as well as provide a link in such space-constrained online ads that details all the terms and conditions, according to the Commission order.
The order also prohibits Intuit from misrepresenting any material facts about its products or services such as the price, refund policies or consumers’ ability to claim a tax credit or deduction or to file their taxes online accurately without using TurboTax’s paid service.
The Commission voted 3-0 to issue the opinion and order.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. Learn more about consumer topics at consumer.ftc.gov, or report fraud, scams, and bad business practices at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Follow the FTC on social media, read consumer alerts and the business blog, and sign up to get the latest FTC news and alerts.
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United States and California Announce Diesel Engine Manufacturer Cummins Inc. Agrees to Pay a Record $1.675 Billion Civil Penalty in Vehicle Test Cheating Settlement - EPA
Total Value of Settlement Exceeds $2 Billion and Requires Nationwide Recall of Model Year 2013-2019 Ram diesel 2500 and 3500 Vehicles
WASHINGTON – The Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Attorney General’s office today released the details of a proposed settlement with diesel engine maker Cummins Inc. for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law. Beyond agreeing to pay a $1.675 billion civil penalty – the largest ever assessed in a Clean Air Act case – Cummins has agreed to spend more than $325 million to remedy the violations, which included the use of software “defeat devices” that circumvented emissions testing and certification requirements.
Under the settlement, Cummins must complete a nationwide vehicle recall to repair and replace the engine control software in hundreds of thousands of RAM 2500 and RAM 3500 pickup trucks equipped with the company’s diesel engines. Cummins will also extend the warranty period for certain parts in the repaired vehicles, fund and perform projects to mitigate excess ozone-creating nitrogen oxides (NOx) emitted from the vehicles and employ new internal procedures designed to prevent future emissions cheating. In total, the settlement is valued at more than $2 billion.
NOx pollution contributes to the formation of harmful smog and fine particulate matter in air. Children, older adults, people who are active outdoors, and people with heart or lung diseases are particularly at risk for health effects related to smog or particulate matter exposure. Nitrogen dioxide formed by NOx emissions can aggravate respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may also contribute to asthma development in children.
“Today’s landmark settlement is another example of the Biden-Harris administration working to ensure communities across the United States, especially those that have long been overburdened by pollution, are breathing cleaner air,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Today we’ve reaffirmed that EPA’s enforcement program will hold companies accountable for cheating to evade laws that protect public health.”
“The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing environmental laws that protect the American people from harmful pollutants,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “The types of devices we allege that Cummins installed in its engines to cheat federal environmental laws have a significant and harmful impact on people’s health and safety. This historic agreement makes clear that the Justice Department will be aggressive in its efforts to hold accountable those who seek to profit at the expense of people’s health and safety.”
“Cummins installed illegal defeat devices on more than 600,000 RAM pickup trucks, which exposed overburdened communities across America to harmful air pollution,” said David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This record-breaking Clean Air Act penalty demonstrates that EPA is committed to holding polluters accountable and ensuring that companies pay a steep price when they break the law.”
“Today’s agreement, which includes the largest-ever Clean Air Act civil penalty, stands as notice to manufacturers that they must comply with our nation’s laws, which protect human health and the health of our environment,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We appreciate the work of our partners, the EPA and the State of California, in helping us reach this significant settlement.”
“Cummins knowingly harmed people’s health and our environment when they skirted state emissions tests and requirements,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Today’s settlement sends a clear message: If you break the law, we will hold you accountable. I want to thank our federal and state partners for their collective work on this settlement that will safeguard public health and protect consumers across the country.”
“The collaboration between California and its federal partners makes it clear that companies will be held accountable for violating essential environmental laws that are in place to provide the clean air that communities across California and the nation want and deserve,” said CARB Executive Officer Dr. Steven Cliff. “California’s air quality regulations protect public health and are backed by a world-class emissions testing laboratory that ensures CARB's enforcement efforts are rigorously supported with data and science, which CARB was pleased to contribute to this landmark case.”
Background
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DEA Encourages Communities to Make Every Day Take Back Day - Drug Enforcement Administration
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has launched a new campaign encouraging the public to make Every Day Take Back Day by utilizing year-round collection sites to dispose of unneeded and unwanted medications.
For more than a decade, DEA has worked with state and local law enforcement partners to host National Prescription Drug Take Back Days each year to help Americans rid their homes of unneeded medications. The Take Back program has received an overwhelming response from communities across the country. In 2023, DEA collected more than 1.2 million pounds of unneeded medications at more than 4,600 sites nationwide during our two, one-day events.

DEA has now registered a record 17,000 pharmacies as authorized collectors to help Americans dispose of unused prescription drugs any day of the year. These safe disposal receptacles, in addition to DEA’s annual Take Back Day events, provide the public with an easy, no-cost opportunity to anonymously dispose of medications that are no longer needed.
Take Back Day has helped Americans easily rid their homes of unwanted or expired medications. These medications can be a gateway to addiction and have helped fuel the opioid epidemic. According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a majority of people who use a prescription medication for a nonmedical purpose obtained that medication from a family member or friend. Removing unnecessary medications from the home can help prevent situations involving not taking medication as intended or dosed; taking someone else’s prescription; and taking the medicine for euphoric effects rather than medicinal purposes.
“DEA has worked closely with the registrant community to dramatically increase the number of permanent disposal sites accessible to Americans. As a result, members of the public can now go to any one of 17,000 pharmacies across the nation to dispose of unused prescription medications any day of the year,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of these collection sites and make every day Take Back Day."
Make Every Day Take Back Day by visiting our locator site to find a pharmacy, hospital, or business with a DEA-registered year-round collection near you. In addition, many local police departments provide year-round drug disposal boxes.
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CPSC Warns Consumers to Immediately Stop Using Pedetid High-Powered Magnetic Ball Sets Due to Ingestion Hazard; Failure to Meet Federal Safety Regulation for Toy Magnet Sets; Sold Exclusively on Walmart.com - Consumer Product Safety Commission
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is warning consumers to immediately stop using and dispose of Pedetid 216-Piece 5mm Magic Magnet Ball Sets because the loose, hazardous magnets pose a risk of serious injury or death if ingested by children.
CPSC testing determined the Magic Magnet Ball Sets do not comply with the requirements of the mandatory federal toy regulation because they contain one or more magnets that fit within CPSC’s small parts cylinder and the magnets are stronger than permitted.
When high-powered magnets are swallowed, the ingested magnets can attract to each other, or to another metal object, and become lodged in the digestive system. This can result in perforations, twisting, and/or blockage of the intestines, infection, blood poisoning and death.
CPSC estimates 2,400 magnet ingestions were treated in hospital emergency departments from 2017 through 2021. CPSC is aware of seven deaths involving the ingestion of hazardous magnets, including two outside of the United States.
CPSC issued a Notice of Violation to the seller, Pedetid Store, of China, but the firm has not agreed to recall these magnetic ball sets or offer a remedy to consumers. Consumers who purchased the product will receive this notice directly.
The magnetic ball sets were sold online at www.walmart.com for about $14. The sets were sold in a set of multi-colored magnetic balls in the form of a cube. The sets were sold encased in a clear plastic case and a portable tin storage box.
CPSC urges consumers to stop using the magnetic balls sets immediately, take them away from children, and dispose of them.
Report any incidents involving injury or product defect to CPSC at www.SaferProducts.gov.
 
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