On Monday, President Trump and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea signed a revised U.S.-Korea (known as “KORUS”) free trade agreement on the sidelines of the United National General Assembly meeting this week in New York.  In April 2017, President Trump indicated that he wanted to either renegotiate or terminate the then-five year old agreement.  Since then, the parties have engaged in trade talks, under the auspices of the existing KORUS review procedures and otherwise, to update key provisions.  Early on, the United States appeared to be primarily focused on changes to help reduce the United States’ bilateral trade deficit.  In March 2018, the Office of the United States Trade Representative issued a summary of the agreed-upon outcomes of the negotiations, and released the draft text earlier this month, with emphasis on how the revisions will “rebalanc{e} our trade” and “reduce the trade deficit.”

The changes to KORUS focus on the auto sector, customs procedures, and pharmaceutical reimbursement.  With respect to autos, the largest change is a 20-year extended phase-out period for the current 25% U.S. tariff on imports of light trucks from Korea.  That tariff will now expire in 2041, instead of 2021, which, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission, will delay the anticipated increase of 59,000 Korean truck imports.  Korea has also agreed to increasing the quota of U.S.-origin autos that meet U.S. safety standards (but not Korean safety standard) from 25,000 to 50,000 per manufacturer, per year.  Korea further agreed to recognizing U.S. standards for auto parts exports necessary to service U.S. vehicles in Korea and a harmonized testing system for emissions standards.  With respect to improving customs procedures, Korea will address onerous and costly customs verification procedures for U.S. exports, which have been
Continue Reading United States and South Korea Sign Updated FTA

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,

On May 23, 2018, Commerce Secretary Ross initiated an investigation into whether imports into the United States of automobiles and auto parts threaten to impair the national security.  A link to the press release announcing the initiation of the investigation is available here.

As it did during its recent 232 investigations concerning U.S. imports

The United States Court of International Trade recently overturned a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) denial of a protest, in which Quaker Pet Group, LLC contested CBP’s classification of its pet carriers.  The five pet carriers at issue in Quaker Pet Group, LLC v. United States, Slip Op. 18-9 (Ct’ Intl. Trade 2018) are used to carry cats, dogs or other pets and are made of mesh and cloth.  CBP classified the carriers under Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 4202.92.30, a provision which covers “travel, sport and similar bags” made of textile material that are designed for “carrying clothing and other personal effects during travel.” 
Continue Reading CIT Overturns CBP: Pets are not “Items or Personal Effects”

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 U.S. Department of Commerce self-initiated antidumping and countervailing investigations of common alloy aluminum sheet from China on November 28.  An accompanying fact sheet estimates dumping margins on the subject merchandise to be between 56.54 and 59.72 percent, and estimates a subsidy rate above de minimis.  Trade cases are typically initiated in response to petitions filed by a domestic industry alleging that dumped or unfairly subsidized goods are being exported to the U.S. market.  Self-initiation authority, however, can be exercised whenever the Secretary determines that a formal trade remedy investigation is warranted based on available information.

The Department’s use of self-initiation authority has been judicious and rare.  In an agency-issued press release Secretary Wilbur Ross stated, “{w}e are self-initiating the first trade case in over a quarter century, showing once again that we stand in constant vigilance in support of free, fair, and reciprocal trade.”  The Department further noted that it last self-initiated a countervailing duty investigation in 1991 on softwood lumber from Canada, and last self-initiated an antidumping duty investigation in 1985 on semiconductors from Japan. 
Continue Reading In Rare Move, Trump’s Commerce Secretary Self-Initiates Chinese Aluminum Trade Remedy Cases

The House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee held a hearing on October 25th to discuss the new Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Process – overseen by the U.S. International Trade Commission with input from other federal agencies – to reduce temporarily tariffs on products not made in the United States.  The largely non-controversial hearing was a first step toward paving the way for Congressional consideration of a bill by the end of the year to implement recommendations made by the ITC in its final MTB report issued in August.  Action on the bill in the Senate Finance Committee is anticipated next.
Continue Reading Congress Presses-On for Temporary Tariff Relief on Non-U.S. Made Goods by Year’s End

The AP recently reported that North Koreans are working in China as forced labor and their products are being imported into the U.S.  The AP followed the production of seafood from Chinese facilities to U.S. retailers, but stated that there other affected product categories, including apparel and wood flooring.

While it has been known that North Korea sends workers abroad, this report is the first time the supply chain has been documented to show North Korean forced labor products entering the U.S., which is a federal crime.  It has been reported that North Korea sends tens of thousands abroad, bringing in revenue estimated at $200-$500 million per year as Kim Jong Un keeps a large percentage of the salaries.  According to the AP, the North Korean workers in China remain under constant surveillance and live in forced labor conditions.
Continue Reading Importers Beware: U.S. Customs Targets Imports Made in China by North Korean Workers

On September 19th, the Department of Commerce announced that they will impose preliminary countervailing duties (“CVD”) on Chinese and Indian exports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel.  See the fact sheet here.

Commerce determined that China and India received countervailable subsidies benefiting the production of mechanical steel tubing from their respective governments.  Previously, on June 2nd, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) had unanimously determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of unfairly traded imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland that are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value and subsidized by the governments of China and India.
Continue Reading Commerce Announces Preliminary Subsidy Rates on Chinese and Indian Mechanical Tubing Exports

Congressional trade committee leaders submitted comments for the ITC to consider in its final Miscellaneous Tariff Bill report due for release in August.  House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Raking Member Richard Neal, along with Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, offered comments based on a review of the ITC’s June-issued preliminary MTB report, which evaluated the eligibility of some 2,500 petitions submitted by U.S. companies seeking duty savings on imported products not made in the United States in accordance with a new process established by the American Manufacturing and Competitiveness Act of 2016.

Continue Reading Congress Weighs-In on New MTB Process In Advance of Final ITC Report