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On Friday, October 25th, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States will be suspending certain benefits for imports from Thailand under the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program for failure to “adequately provide internationally-recognized worker rights.”  As a result, 573 U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule line

Late last week, China filed a request with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) for authorization to “suspend concessions and related obligations” in the amount of $2.4 billion as recourse for the United States’ alleged failure to comply with a 2015 dispute settlement report.  The disagreement stems from a dispute filed by China in May 2012 challenging certain aspects of 17 countervailing duty investigations by the United States, on a wide range of products, as conducted by the Department of Commerce (DS437).  The decision reached by a WTO panel, as modified by the WTO Appellate Body and adopted by the DSB in January 2015, included a number of findings in favor of and against the United States.  In particular, the WTO Appellate Body found that Commerce’s “rebuttable presumption” that Chinese state-owned enterprises are public bodies, and that Commerce’s rejection of Chinese private transaction prices as distorting the benchmark for the “provisions of goods or services for less than adequate remuneration” benefit analysis, were inconsistent with WTO rules.

In May 2016, China returned to the WTO to request consultations with the United States under Article 21.5 of the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU), which establishes procedures for when parties disagree about whether the losing party has implemented the DSB’s recommendations and rulings.  Failed consultations led to the establishment of a compliance panel, which issued a decision in March 2018.  Both China and the United States appealed to the WTO Appellate Body.  In July 2019, the Appellate Body upheld the compliance panel’s
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At the WTO General Council’s meeting this week in Geneva, the debate over developing country rights at the WTO came to a head.  The United States has recently been especially outspoken in its criticism of developing country status for WTO members, which entitles the declared developing country to certain exemptions, longer timetables for implementation of commitments, and other flexibilities under WTO agreements to assist with integration into the world trading system – generally known as “special and differential treatment.”  Special and differential treatment provisions are found in virtually all WTO agreements, ranging from commitments to increase trade opportunities for developing country members, to requirements to protect developing country interests, to rules allowing for flexible implementation, transitional time periods, and technical assistance.  For example, developing countries may extend for two additional years their own safeguard actions to restrict imports causing injury to their domestic industries, and are generally exempt from the application of other members’ safeguard actions.  Since the WTO’s creation in 1995, however, the WTO has not specified any criteria or process for determining developing country status, allowing members to self-declare their status without meeting any analytical requirements.

According to the United States, this lack of discipline has led to unpredictable and illogical results, with some of the world’s wealthiest and fastest developing (in terms of economic, social, and other indicators) – and often most trade-distorting – countries putting themselves as the same category as the WTO’s least-developed members in order to strategically or uniformly avoid additional commitments.  Some of the examples cited by the United States of those WTO members seen to be unreasonably declaring themselves as developing include China, India, Singapore, Israel, Mexico, Turkey, Chile, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.  As the United States explained in a WTO communication issued in February 2019:

Simply put, self-declaration has severely damaged the negotiating arm of the WTO by making differentiation among Members near impossible.  By demanding the same flexibilities as much smaller, poorer Members, export powerhouses and other relatively advanced Members . . . create asymmetries that ensure that ambition levels in WTO negotiations remain far too weak to sustain viable outcomes.  Members cannot find mutually agreeable trade-offs or build coalitions when significant players use self-declared development status to avoid making meaningful offers.  Self-declaration also dilutes the benefit that the {least-developed countries} and other Members with specific needs tailored to the relevant discipline could enjoy if they were the only ones with the flexibility.

The United States’ February communication also proposed that the General Council adopt a new approach that would preclude special and differential treatment “in current and future WTO negotiations” for countries that fall into at least one of four categories: members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); one of the G20 countries; classified as “high income” by the World Bank; or account for “no less than 0.5 per cent of global merchandise trade (imports and exports).” 
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The U.S. Department of Commerce announced on Wednesday that it is self-initiating an inquiry into whether U.S. imports of corrosion-resistant steel products (CORE) from Costa Rica, Guatemala, Malaysia, South Africa, or the United Arab Emirates using hot-rolled or cold-rolled substrate from China and Taiwan are circumventing existing antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties.  This is

Last June, pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, President Trump announced the imposition of a tariff of 25 percent on certain imported goods from China (valued at $34 billion) in response to China’s unfair intellectual property and market access practices.  The Administration subsequently imposed tariffs on two more groups of Chinese

On Friday, May 17th, the Trump Administration announced that it has reached a deal with Canada and Mexico to eliminate national security-focused Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum (at 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively) from Canada and Mexico.  According to a joint statement by the United States and Canada, US.

On April 25, 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued its 2019 “Special 301 Report” on inadequate protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights by the United States’ trading partners.  USTR has issued a Special 301 Report each year since 1989 pursuant to section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974.  The Special 301 Report reflects the culmination of a public comment and hearing process allowing all interested parties – domestic businesses and industries, civil society groups, trade associations, think tanks, and other stakeholders – to identify foreign countries and expose the laws, policies, and practices that fail to provide adequate and effective IP protection and enforcement for U.S. inventors, creators, brands, manufacturers, and service providers.  The Special 301 Report and process provides an important opportunity for IP-intensive U.S. industries to highlight adverse cross-border IP rights issues and help shape the Administration’s priorities as it engages with trading partners on IP and related market access issues.

Countries that are identified as falling short with respect to protection, enforcement, and market access for IP-intensive industries are listed in the Special 301 Report in one of three ways.  Countries with the most egregious acts, policies, or practices that have the greatest adverse impact on U.S. companies and products are listed Priority Foreign Countries (“PFC”).  PFCs are subject to investigation and potential trade sanctions such as tariffs, quotas, or other measures.  A country may not be listed as a PFC under the law if it is entering into good faith negotiations or making significant progress toward providing and enforcing IP rights.  Notably, USTR may designate a country as a PFC even if
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On Monday, March 4th, President Trump announced that India and Turkey will no longer benefit from the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences (“GSP”) program.  The GSP program, established by the Trade Act of 1974, is designed to promote economic development by eliminating duties on certain eligible products when imported from a beneficiary

On Friday, January 4, 2019, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States has requested consultations with Peru under the auspices of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) to address an alleged violation by Peru of the environmental chapter of the agreement.  According to USTR, Peru’s recent decision to move