On Sunday, the heads of state of Canada and the United States agreed on terms for a new trilateral deal with Mexico.  The agreement, now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement “USMCA,” provides several new updates to its NAFTA predecessor.  The deal’s terms, including those established in August in an agreement between the U.S. and

On Monday, August 27, President Trump announced that he intends to terminate NAFTA if discussions with Canada are not finalized by the end of the week.  This news follows the successful negotiation of an agreement in principle for trade between the U.S. and Mexico.  While, according to the USTR, the agreement provides the “most comprehensive set of enforceable environmental obligations of any previous United States agreement,” the deal also contains numerous provisions of note involving trade.

The agreement in principle is expected to contain a more robust intellectual property (“IP”) chapter than that of its NAFTA predecessor.  In fact, the USTR is calling the chapter the “most comprehensive” for enforcement of IP with any trade agreement to which the U.S. is a party.  In particular, among other provisions, enforcement authorities must be able to stop the entry or exit of goods that are suspected to be pirated or counterfeited, the countries must establish “meaningful” criminal penalties for the camcording of movies, the countries will require national treatment for copyright, and both countries will make available civil and criminal remedies for the theft of trade secrets. 
Continue Reading President Trump is Expected to Terminate NAFTA Following Agreement in Principle with Mexico

On August 16, 2018, Reuters reported that Thailand plans to ban imports of a variety of scrap electronics within the next six months and recycled plastic within the next two years.  The Thai Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Kanchanarat, cites environmental and health concerns as the reason for the ban.

While some repairable appliances,

The Wall Street Journal reported that the industry for recycled products is collapsing.  Until late last year, China was the largest importer of U.S. recyclables.  At the beginning of 2018, in a decision that many attribute to trade tensions between the U.S. and China, China imposed more stringent quality standards on imports of recycled material and ceased importing U.S. mixed paper and mixed plastic of any quality until June 4, 2018.   As a result of the harsher standards, the prices of scrap paper and plastic have plummeted.  While other countries, such as India and Vietnam, have imported some of the waste that would have been sent to China, there remain large amounts of unsold recycled material.
Continue Reading U.S.- China Trade Relationship Affects Recycling Practices

The World Health Organization has announced a new initiative, REPLACE, that seeks the cooperation of governments to ban artificial trans fats by 2023.  Trans fats can either be naturally occurring in foods such as milk products, or artificially produced.  Partially hydrogenated oils account for most artificial trans fats.  These fats are commonly found in baked

The grain industry is reacting to the “temporary” Chinese preliminary antidumping duty of 178.6% on sorghum shipped from the United States, announced April 17, 2018. Reuters reported that Chinese importers of sorghum, a grain used to create ethanol and feed livestock, have asked the government in Beijing to waive the duties.  After the duties were announced, nearly two dozen ships carrying American sorghum changed course, opting instead for ports in Japan, Saudi Arabia, the Canary Islands, and the Philippines to mitigate losses.  China is now importing relatively large quantities of barley as livestock feed and the Chinese importers who did receive sorghum shipments are selling that grain at an extreme discount in an effort to avoid the duty deposit.

The investigation into U.S. sorghum, initiated in February, found that U.S. exports to China increased over the last several years while prices fell and harmed China’s domestic industry.  The National Sorghum Producers, an industry group in the United States, insists that the product is neither dumped nor injurious to the Chinese industry.  The National Sorghum Producers also state that they fully cooperated with the Chinese government in the course of the short investigation, at the end of which adverse facts available were applied to result in the high margin. 
Continue Reading Chinese “Dumping” Duties Alter Grain Markets

As China’s intellectual property practices continue on to be a centerpiece of the Trump Administration’s trade policy, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Finance Committee Member Bill Nelson (D-Florida) on Friday urged U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to include strong copyright protections in U.S. trade agreements, including the new NAFTA.  Digital trade and intellectual property are both topics that the USTR has expected to address in the negotiations.

In February, the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law also requested that the new NAFTA require increased protections in trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents.   The proposals included: that Canada and Mexico establish criminal penalties for trade secrets violations similar to those in the U.S. Economic Espionage Act, an agreement that Mexico
Continue Reading Ambassador Lighthizer Urged to Include Intellectual Property Protections in New NAFTA

President Xi Jinping announced on Tuesday that China will begin a “new phase of opening up” that will shift the Chinese economy towards a market-based model.  While it is not the first time the Chinese President has made these or similar promises, the remarks clearly are designed to forestall threatened U.S. tariffs and reduce  trade tension with the United States.

The promised reforms include strengthening protections for intellectual property, increasing foreign access to financial and manufacturing sectors of the Chinese economy, and lowering tariffs on vehicles and other goods.

President Xi addressed the automobile industry by promising to eventually reduce ownership restrictions for foreign car makers and to lower tariffs on foreign vehicles.  The U.S. automobile industry currently faces relatively high tariffs when shipping to China.  While on its face the announcement Tuesday appears positive for U.S. auto manufacturers, President Xi noted that the trade reforms would only be available to those countries that do not “violate” rules established by the WTO.  Given that China formally challenged the U.S. in the WTO on Tuesday regarding steel and aluminum tariffs, the availability of Chinese trade concessions to American automotive manufacturers remains elusive. 
Continue Reading China Promises Economic Reforms and to Lessen Tariffs on Automobiles