Secondary Sanctions Targeting Russia’s Defense and Intelligence Sectors Move Closer to Implementation

Last Friday the State Department belatedly released a list of 39 Russian entities that operate as part of Russia’s defense and intelligence sectors (the full list is below).  Congress required the Trump Administration to produce a list of such parties as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which became law in August 2017.  Under Section 231 of CAATSA, persons that engage in “significant” transactions with the designated firms could be subject to a menu of secondary sanctions starting on January 29, 2018.    Continue Reading

Commerce Announces Preliminary Determination in Antidumping Investigation of Aluminum Foil from China and Determines that China Continues to Be a Non-Market Economy

On Friday, October 27, 2017, the Department of Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty investigation on aluminum foil from China.  The Department calculated preliminary dumping margins of 96.81 and 162.24 percent for the two mandatory respondents under investigation.  Additionally, the Department set the rate for the PRC-wide entity at 162.24 percent and the rate all other companies found to be separate from the PRC-wide entity at 138.16 percent. Continue Reading

OFAC Extends Sanctions Relief for Belarussian Conglomerates

Today the Office Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) extended sanctions relief for nine Belarussian conglomerates, including Belneftekhim. OFAC has authorized transactions with the listed Belarussian Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) since October 2015 through a series of temporary general licenses. Today’s General License No. 2D extends the sanctions relief through April 30, 2018, subject to the restrictions outlined in the license.
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New Obstacles Emerge in NAFTA Negotiations

As the fourth round of NAFTA negotiations were completed in Washington on Tuesday, October 17, 2017, significant new obstacles to the trade talks are emerging.  As a result, the fifth round of talks has been postponed until mid-November.

Specifically, Canada and Mexico have rejected the U.S.’s proposals on the elimination of NAFTA dispute panels in AD/CVD decisions, dairy, automotive content, government procurement, country-specific rule of origin rules, and a sunset clause.

U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Guajardo, and Canadian Foreign Minister Freeland noted in a joint statement that the extended timelines provide the countries Continue Reading

India Stainless Steel Bar:  Commerce Reinstates Viraj and Venus Back Under Antidumping Duty Order

On October 18, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce published its preliminary determination that two Indian bar producers, Viraj Profiles Ltd. (“Viraj”) and the Venus Group (Venus Wire Industries Pvt. Ltd. and its affiliates Hindustan Inox Ltd., Precision Metals and Sieve Manufacturers (India) Pvt. Ltd.), have resumed dumping stainless steel bar into the U.S. market and that both companies should be reinstated back under the existing antidumping duty order on stainless steel bar from India.  Continue Reading

Evolution of Customs Audits and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism: ISA Members Beware!

Since the advent of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE’s), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has moved its audit function to the Centers and is focusing on single issue audits rather than the focused assessments previously conducted by regulatory audit.

Targeted single issue audits can be misleading.  CBP typically sends an audit questionnaire covering potential issues of non-compliance.  The questionnaires are more comprehensive than the CBP cover letter accompanying them.  In addition, Importer Self-Assessment (ISA) participants, who are exempt from Focused Assessments, are not exempt from the single issue audits.  ISA members and importers considering joining the program should consider whether the increased audit function obviates some of the benefits.

In addition, CBP has announced that in 2018 it will be integrating security and trade compliance and plans on merging ISA and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program by 2019.  More on the merging of anti-terrorism initiatives and trade compliance to come.

Trudeau Turns-on NAFTA Charm-Offensive with House Ways & Means Members

As trade ministers kicked-off the fourth round of negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement in Alexandria, Virginia on October 11, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled to nearby Capitol Hill to meet with members of the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed-door session to discuss mutual objectives of a renegotiated agreement.

Based on news reports, Trudeau reminded the key U.S. lawmakers with jurisdiction over the nation’s trade that Canada is the United States’ largest customer.  Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX)’s opening remarks acknowledged the importance of the beneficial trading relationship and recognized Canada as an important U.S. ally.  Noting, however, that even strong relationships have their challenges, the Chairman expressed a hope for progress on issues related to customs barriers, intellectual property protection and greater market access for U.S. dairy producers. Continue Reading

Importers Beware: U.S. Customs Targets Imports Made in China by North Korean Workers

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

Commerce Announces Preliminary Subsidy Rates on Chinese and Indian Mechanical Tubing Exports

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

Trump Announces Nomination of Two ITC Commissioners

On September 28, President Donald Trump announced his nomination of two Commissioners to the United States International Trade Commission.  Dennis M. Devaney of Michigan for the remainder of a nine-year term, expiring June 16, 2023 and Randolph J. Stayin of Virginia for the remainder of a nine-year term expiring June 16, 2026.

Mr. Devaney and Mr. Stayin were nominated to fill the Commissioner positions of Commissioners Kieff and Pinkert, who left the ITC earlier this year.  President Trump’s two nominations were made with the ITC operating with only four out of six Commissioners and experiencing a historically high Section 337 caseload. Continue Reading

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