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USMX and ILA Agree to Extend Local Bargaining Deadline

USMX Updates / http://usmxlaborupdates.com/news-and-updates/usmx-and-ila-agree-to-extend-local-bargaining-deadline/

[February 27, 2013]  
USMX and the ILA have agreed to extend the March 1st deadline for completion of local negotiations to March 8, 2013, to coincide with the Wage Scale Meetings scheduled for the week of March 11th.


India Increases Duties on Imported Luxury Goods

Press Information Bureau, Government of India / http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=92753

Customs Duty on Imported Luxery Goods Such as high End Motor Vehicles, Motorcycles, etc. Increased. However, Environment-Friendly Vehicles given benefit of Extended Period of Concession
Aircraft Manufacture, Repair and Overhaul Industry also given Certain Concessions
Duty free limit for Bringing Jewellery by Elligible Passengers increased

The customs duty on imported luxury goods such as high-end motor vehicles, motorcycles, yachts and similar vehicles has been increased. In the case of such motor vehicles, the duty has been increased from 75% to 100%; on motorcycles with engine capacity of 800 cc or more the duty now will be 75% instead of 60%. Similarly, the duty on yachts and similar vessels has been increased from 10% to 25%.

On the other hand, to encourage manufacture of environment-friendly vehicles, Shri P. Chidambaram has extended the period of concession now available for specified parts of electric and hybrid vehicles up to 31st March 2015.

Certain concessions have also been extended to the aircraft manufacture, repair and overhaul industry, which is referred to as the MRO industry. It is expected that this will lead to generation of more employment and other benefits. Considering the fact that gold prices have risen sharply, the Finance Minister has proposed to make amends in the baggage rules permitting eligible passengers to bring jewellery. He has proposed to raise the duty free limit to Rs. 50,000 in the case of a male passenger and Rs. One Lakh in the case of a female passenger. However, the usual conditions in this regard will continue to apply.


Commerce Preliminarily Finds Countervailable Subsidization of Imports of Hardwood and Decorative Plywood from the People’s Republic of China

International Trade Administration  / http://www.trade.gov/press/press-releases/

PRESS RELEASE


CBP Seattle Field Office Outstanding Year End Results

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/local/02252013_5.xml

Seattle – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announces that more than 25.5 million travelers were screened for entry into the United States during fiscal year 2012 (October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012) by the 1,435 officers and 127 agriculture specialists assigned to the Seattle Field Office (SFO). Among those travelers, CBP discovered $2.2 million in unreported currency, seized more than 547 pounds of illegal drugs, seized more than 120,000 prohibited plant and animal products, and made 1,381 arrests.

The CBP Seattle Field Office manages the 67 ports of entry stretching from the Pacific Ocean across the states of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota to Grand Portage on Lake Superior. During fiscal year 2012, 1.3 million commercial trucks, 3.4 million cargo containers, 11.6 million automobiles, 15,664 trains, 22,982 international aircraft and 30,514 vessels, ferries and pleasure craft arrived at these ports.

“Our many accomplishments in 2012 reflect the efforts of the dedicated men and women of CBP,” said Seattle Field Office Director Michele James. “Maintaining our nation’s security while promoting the efficient movement of international trade and travel is a challenge that we all face daily with great dedication, pride and integrity.”

While facilitating the flow of more than 19.3 million foreign nationals into the U.S. through the SFO ports of entry, CBP officers also refused entry to more than 10,000 aliens who were deemed inadmissible. Most aliens are simply permitted to withdraw their application for entry, but 128 aliens with significant criminal histories were processed for expedited removal and returned directly to the country from which they entered.

CBP officers and agriculture specialists screen all people, vehicles, conveyances, and goods entering the U.S. While anti-terrorism is the primary mission, CBP enforces hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations resulting in impressive numbers of enforcement actions in many areas, including illegal drugs, unsafe goods, prohibited and infested agriculture products, and other contraband.

Arrests of criminal fugitives remain a crucial element of CBP’s daily mission, involving a wide range of misdeeds stretching across the country and international boundaries. For example, CBP officers in Metaline Falls, Wash., arrested a man from Calgary, Alberta, wanted on charges in California for conspiracy to export defense articles without a license and in Blaine, Wash., a United States Air Force deserter of 40 years was taken into custody when he presented his British Columbia driver’s license bearing a changed name. The most infamous arrest of the year occurred at the Lynden, Wash. port of entry when Travis Baumgartner, the subject of a Canadian-wide manhunt, was taken into custody for the alleged armored-car robbery and triple murder at the University of Alberta. His pickup truck was bearing fictitious license pl ates and contained more than $330,000 in cash.

Technology has increasingly assisted CBP in the detection and apprehension of fugitives. CBP officers in Portal, N.D., intercepted two citizens of Canada who attempted to enter the U.S as stowaways aboard a railroad car. When the train passed through a CBP x-ray imaging station, CBP officers were alerted to their presence and took the riders into custody. Due to conflicting identity documents in their possession, CBP officers electronically recorded and compared their fingerprints in the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) and discovered that both were the subject of felony warrants in Canada. The warrants were immediately confirmed and both individuals were turned over to Canadian Border Services Agency and arrested by Canadian Pacific Railway Police. Removing criminals from society is part of th e protective mission CBP officers perform on a daily basis.

CBP continues to protect consumers by seizing prohibited, unlawful or undeclared goods coming into the U.S. Unscrupulous importers have profited billions of dollars from the sale of pirated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) goods. To combat the counterfeit trade, most trademark and copyright holders register with CBP through an online system that assists CBP officers and import specialists to easily identify fake merchandise. In Seattle, officers and import specialists seized a shipment of 25,822 purses in March arriving in an ocean container from China. More than 8,500 purses were seized in violation of counterfeit trademarks including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, Burberry and Coach. The combined manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the handbags, had the trademarks been genuine, was more than $8.4 million. Pirated g oods cost U.S. businesses more than $200 billion annually, and are directly responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 American jobs. Combating this problem remains an important part of the CBP mission.

Protecting consumers from hazardous products is another way CBP stands guard over the flow of commerce. CBP officers and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigators in Seattle seized two shipments of children’s Halloween pirate costumes for containing eleven times the legal limit of lead. The shipments, 229 cartons containing 1,371 retail units, valued at more than $10,000 originated in China and were destined for a distributor in the Seattle area. CBP staff targeted the shipments for intensive examination and took samples which were submitted to the CPSC. When CPSC tested the samples, it found that they contained unacceptable levels of lead, in violation of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Laboratory analysis found that parts of the pirate costumes (buttons) contained 1,109 parts per million (ppm) of lea d; the acceptable level is just 100 ppm.

CBP is vigilant against the threat of accidental or deliberate infestation of our agriculture industry and natural resources, including agro-terrorism. CBP agriculture specialists are charged with protecting our $1.5 trillion domestic agriculture industry by preventing entry into the U.S of foreign plant pests and animal diseases such as exotic fruit flies, Khapra beetles, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (known as “mad cow” disease), foot-and-mouth disease, and highly pathogenic avian influenza (“bird flu”). In fiscal year 2012, agriculture specialists in the SFO inspected more than 28,000 cargo shipments and took action on more than 1,300 shipments posing agriculture threats from around the globe. Additionally, these agriculture specialists seized more than 120,000 agriculture related items that are prohibited due to a high risk of exotic plant pests or foreign animal diseases.

Among the most destructive pests are wood boring pests that include Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) and Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Agriculture specialists within the SFO intercepted more than 5,000 plant pests and refused entry to more than 50 shipments found to be infested with wood-boring pests. These pests have the potential to inflict enormous damage upon U.S. forests and urban tree populations, including maple, birch, willow, chestnut, elm, poplar and ash trees. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that if the Asian Longhorned Beetle were to become widely established in the U.S., losses to our forests and forest related industries would exceed $650 billion. The Emerald Ash Borer is responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees in 14 states in the Midwest and Northeastern United States.

As the U.S. and Canadian economies become more interdependent, facilitating trade across the northern border continues to be a vital part of the CBP mission in both strategic visioning and practical solutions. In the last year CBP announced a program to allow additional cargo shipments to enter at the Lynden port of entry. Previously the only cargo shipments permitted entry at Lynden were informal entries, empty commercial conveyances, and cargo covered by a pre-approved permit. As a benefit to Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) companies, under the new program, shipments qualified under the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program are now allowed to enter at Lynden without a pre-approved permit.

To facilitate travel and tourism a new Ready Lane was announced at Lynden to expedite the entry of travelers possessing Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology-enabled travel documents. Also this year saw an expansion of the NEXUS program to the Sumas, Wash. port of entry. Within the SFO, the NEXUS program allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers expedited processing across the U.S.-Canada border at four locations in the Interstate 5 corridor.

During fiscal year 2012, the CBP Seattle Field Office met the challenge of opening new port of entry facilities in Sarles, Hannah, Maida, Walhalla and Neche, N.D.; Pinecreek, Minn.; Del Bonita and Scobey, Mont. and at Boundary and Nighthawk, Wash., which were constructed by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). These new facilities replaced aging buildings which were constructed more than 50 years ago, and required extensive upgrading and infrastructure replacement in order to meet CBP’s growing enforcement requirements as well as basic building needs such as handicapped accessibility and fully functional restrooms. These new facilities feature the latest inspection/enforcement tools and environmentally sustainable (“green”) technologies that will support CBP’s antiterrorism, trade security and facilitation missions, while reducing the amount of energy consumed by the ports of entry.

CBP’s Seattle Field Office maintains constant vigilance to prevent the entry into our nation of terrorists and their weapons while carrying out traditional border enforcement responsibilities across five states and three time zones.


Record Year for Travel to the United States

U.S. Department of International Trade Administration / http://www.trade.gov/press/press-releases/2013/record-year-for-travel-to-the-united-states-022213.as

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration today released the December 2012 data on international travel and tourism to the United States, which shows that exports in this sector hit a record $168.1 billion in 2012.

Travel and tourism exports represent the largest service-export industry within the United States. In 2012, travel and tourism accounted for 8 percent of all U.S. exports and 27 percent of all service-exports, which themselves hit a record in 2012, reaching $632.3 billion. International travel and tourism also helped contribute to the record surplus the U.S. holds in services exports, which hit $195.3 billion in 2012, and the overall record U.S. export figure of $2.2 trillion.

“International visitors to the United States are an increasing part of our export success story, which not only continues to reach record levels, but support millions of American jobs,” said Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “The Obama Administration is committed to support these positive trends by taking concrete steps to attract and welcome international visitors to the United States, which is boosting local economies from San Diego to San Juan.”

Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $128.2 billion in 2012, an increase of more than 10 percent when compared to the previous year. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers and U.S. vessel operators from international visitors markedly rose in 2012. When compared to 2011, U.S. passenger fare exports increased appreciably (9 percent) to $39.9 billion for the year.

 In December 2012 alone, international visitors spent an estimated $14.3 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within the United States—nearly $1.8 billion more (14 percent) than was spent in December 2011. Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $10.9 billion during December, an increase of more than 14 percent when compared to last year. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from interna tional visitors increased by nearly 14 percent to $3.4 billion for the month, following an increase of 7 percent in November. U.S carriers have received more than $39.9 billion from international visitors through December 2012, the strongest year-to-date performance on record.

The importance and impact of the Travel and Tourism Industry will continue to grow as Brazil, China, and India see record amounts of newly-formed middle class citizens vacationing around the globe. These countries represent more than 40 percent of the world’s population and by 2016 the number of travelers from Brazil, China, and India is expected to increase by 274 percent, 135 percent, and 50 percent respectively.

The travel and tourism industry projects that more than 1 million American jobs could be created over the next decade if the U.S. increases its share of the international travel market. “The opportunity for dynamic economic growth and job creation in this sector is why President Obama charged the Department of Commerce and the Interior Department to create the National Travel and Tourism Strategy,” Sánchez said.

Released in May 2012, the Strategy is a blueprint for expanding travel to and within the United States, setting the goal of attracting more than 100 million international visitors annually by 2021. These international visitors are projected to spend an estimated $250 billion per year, creating jobs and spurring economic growth in communities across the country. Specific solutions include focusing on increasing non-immigrant visa capacity, expanding the Global Entry Program which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk air travelers upon arrival in the United States. The Strategy is also an important part of the President’s National Export Initiative, which is a government-wide strategy to promote American exports.

Increasing U.S. travel and tourism will not come at the expense of national security. “The President’s plan for commonsense immigration reform includes a number of proposals to support his commitment to increasing U.S. travel and tourism while maintaining our nation’s security,” Sánchez added. “Specifically, the President’s immigration proposal reforms the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen law enforcement cooperation while facilitating more efficient trade and tourism to the United States, securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry.”


Baltimore CBP Intercepts First in Port Seed Beetle

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/local/02262013_3.xml

Baltimore – A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entomologist confirmed Wednesday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists at Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport discovered a new pest in the Baltimore area when they intercepted, Spermophagus negligens, an insect that belongs to the family of seed beetles or bean weevils, Bruchidae. The agriculture specialists discovered the pest while inspecting hibiscus seeds found inside of a travelers luggage on May 29, 2012.

According to the USDA this is only the second time this pest has been encountered in the United States. The first interception occurred on October 26, 1999 when agriculture specialists at Philadelphia International Airport discovered the insect while examining a two pound bag of seeds found inside a traveler’s bag from the United Kingdom.

Spermophagus negligens could pose a significant agriculture threat because they can infest stored products or warehouses of important commodities such as beans, peas, and seeds. Adults lay eggs on the seeds and the newly hatched larvae then bore holes and live most of their lives inside the seeds. An infestation of Spermophagus negligens is very difficult to control as the pests reproduce rapidly.

“CBP agriculture specialists take their job of detecting foreign invasive plants and plant pests very seriously,” said Ricardo Scheller Port Director for the Port of Baltimore. “This is another example of our agriculture specialists performing a thorough inspection and finding a new potential threat to the U.S. agriculture industry.”

The beetles were discovered on hibiscus seeds being carried by a passenger from the United Kingdom. CBP seized the contaminated seeds and forwarded specimens of the insects to a USDA- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) - Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) entomologist for identification. The remaining seeds were then destroyed by incineration.

CBP agriculture specialists work closely with USDA’s, APHIS, PPQ to protect our nation’s agriculture resources against the introduction of foreign plant pests and animal diseases.

CBP agriculture specialists have extensive training and experience in the biological sciences and agricultural inspection. On a typical day, they inspect tens of thousands of international air passengers, and air and sea cargoes nationally being imported to the United States and seize 4,919 prohibited meat, plant materials or animal products, including 476 insect pests.

 
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