EU/EFTA - New deal to cut roaming prices and standardise mobile phone chargers in the EEA among joint decisions

On 29 April 2016, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) announced that decisions on lower roaming prices, standardised mobile phone chargers and revised public procurement rules were among those adopted by the EEA Joint Committee on 29 April 2016. In total, 37 decisions were adopted incorporating 64 EU legal acts into the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement. The announcement said:

Among the acts incorporated was a directive on the harmonisation of laws relating to radio equipment. The new rules aim to keep pace with the growing number of devices on the market and ensure that they respect essential health and safety requirements. They apply to devices such as mobile phones, car door openers and modems, but exclude radio equipment used for public security and defence activities. The directive states that the compatibility of accessories such as chargers should be an essential requirement for mobile phones that are made available on the market, reducing unnecessary waste and cost.

Also incorporated was a regulation aiming to cut roaming fees within the EEA. This should reduce costs for consumers travelling within Europe. The regulation also guarantees that everyone has the right to access and distribute content and use and provide applications and services, irrespective of their location and of the origin or destination of the service.

Three directives, which together represent a major overhaul of public procurement law, were also incorporated. This new set of rules simplifies public procurement procedures and allows for more flexibility, which in turn should open up the public procurement market in the EEA. Cutting red tape to facilitate the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises is an important objective, for example by paving the way for the digitalisation of public procurement. The directives also recognise that public procurement is a legitimate instrument for policy strategies, enabling national authorities to implement societal and environmental policies.

So far this year 102 decisions have been adopted by the EEA Joint Committee and 180 legal acts have been incorporated into the EEA Agreement.

EFTA publishes its annual report

On 28 April 2016, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), whose Member States are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, announced that The 55th Annual Report of the European Free Trade Association has been published. The report contains an overview of the functions and activities of EFTA throughout 2015 in the areas of managing the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, EFTA’s worldwide network of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and the EFTA Convention.

Among the highlights of EFTA’s work was the political agreement reached between the EEA EFTA States and the European Union on renewed financial contributions to reduce social and economic disparities and to promote cooperation in Europe for the period 2014 to 2021. The EEA Joint Committee adopted 320 decisions incorporating 483 legal acts in 2015.

EFTA continued its ambitious pursuit of a worldwide network of FTAs in 2015, with EFTA Ministers signing a Joint Declaration on Cooperation with Ecuador and a protocol on the accession of Guatemala to the FTA between the EFTA States and Central American States. In addition, free trade negotiations were launched with Georgia and the Philippines.

EU introduces surveillance of certain iron and steel imports

On 29 April 2016, the Official Journal published Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/670 of 28 April 2016 introducing prior Union surveillance of imports of certain iron and steel products originating in certain third countries (“the Regulation”), which requires that the release for free circulation in the Union of certain iron and steel products listed in Annex I to the Regulation (whose net weight exceeds 2 500 kg) shall be subject to prior Union surveillance in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2015/478 and Regulation (EU) 2015/755. The Regulation is summarised below:

The classification of the products covered by the Regulation is based on the tariff and statistical nomenclature of the Union (‘TARIC’). The origin of the products covered by the Regulation are to be determined in accordance with Article 60 of the Union Customs Code. Products originating in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are exempted.

21 working days after the entry into force of the Regulation, the release for free circulation in the Union of the products referred to above will be subject to presentation of a surveillance document issued by the competent authorities of a Member State. The surveillance document will be issued automatically by the competent authorities in the Member States, without charge and for any quantities requested, within 5 working days of presentation of an application by any importer into the Union.

A surveillance document issued by one of the authorities listed in Annex II to the Regulation is required to be made out on a form corresponding to the model in Annex I to Regulation (EU) 2015/478 or Annex II to Regulation (EU) 2015/755 for imports from the third countries listed in Annex I to that Regulation and shall be valid throughout the Union. The surveillance document will be valid for 4 months and unused or partly used surveillance documents may be renewed for an equal period.

The importer's application shall include the following elements:

  • the full name and address of the applicant (including telephone and e-mail or fax numbers and any number identifying the applicant to the competent national authority), plus the applicant's VAT registration number if he is liable for VAT;
  • where appropriate, the full name and address of the declarant or of any representative appointed by the applicant (including telephone and e-mail or fax numbers);
  • a description of the goods giving their (1) trade name; (2) the TARIC code; and (3) place of origin and place of consignment;
  • the quantity declared, in kilograms, and, where appropriate, any other additional unit (pairs, items, etc.);
  • the value of the goods, CIF at the Union frontier, in euro;
  • the following statement, dated and signed by the applicant, with the applicant's name spelt out in capital letters: ‘I, the undersigned, certify that the information provided in this application is true and given in good faith, and that I am established in the Union.’

The importer is also required to submit commercial evidence of the intention to import, such as a copy of the contract of sale or purchase or of the pro forma invoice. If so requested, for example in cases where the goods are not directly purchased in the country of production, the importer must present a certificate of production issued by the producing steel mill.

The competent authorities may allow the submission of declarations or requests to be transmitted or printed by electronic means, under the conditions fixed by them. However, all documents and evidence must be made available to the competent authorities upon request. The surveillance document may be issued by electronic means as long as the customs offices involved have access to the document via a computer network.

A finding that the unit price at which the transaction is effected varies from that indicated in the surveillance document by less than 5 % in either direction or that the total quantity of the products presented for import exceeds the quantity given in the surveillance document by less than 5 % shall not preclude the release for free circulation of the products in question.

Applications for surveillance documents and the documents themselves shall be confidential and restricted to the competent authorities and the applicant.

The Member States are required to communicate to the Commission on as regular and up-to-date a basis as possible and at least by the last day of each month, details of the quantities and values (calculated in euro) for which surveillance documents have been issued, broken down by product, TARIC code and by country.

The Member States are also required to give the Commission notification of any anomalies or cases of fraud which they discover and, where relevant, the basis on which they have refused to grant a surveillance document.
Notice are to be communicated electronically via the integrated network set up for this purpose, unless for imperative technical reasons it is necessary to use other means of communication temporarily.

This Regulation shall apply from the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union until 15 May 2020.

US – USTR establishes petition process for review of AGOA eligibility
On April 29, 2016, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket Number USTR-2016-0002] establishing a petition process to review the eligibility of countries for the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The final rule adopts, without change, the interim rule published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2016 (81 Fed. Reg. 14716
US – NMFS/NOAA requests comments on trusted trader program

On April 29, 2016, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), published in the Federal Register a notice in which the National Ocean Council Committee on Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud (NOC Committee) is seeking public input on the design and implementation of a Commerce Trusted Trader Program as part of an effective seafood traceability process to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud. The Commerce Trusted Trader Program will establish within the previously proposed Seafood Import Monitoring Program such benefits as reduced targeting and inspections, and enhanced streamlined entry into U.S. commerce for holders of an International Fisheries Trade Permit that are certified for participation in the Commerce Trusted Trader Program.

Comments must be received by June 28, 2016. Public webinars will take place from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT on May 4, 2016, 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. EDT on May 10, 2016, and 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. EDT on June 6, 2016.

EU issues release on Union Customs Code – effective 1 May

On 29 April 2016, the European Commission issued a press release on the Union Customs Code (UCC) which comes into force on 1 May 2016. The release states:

New EU rules for a simpler, faster and safer Customs Union come into force

Brussels, 29 April 2016

New customs rules come into force on Sunday 1 May that will make life simpler for businesses that trade in Europe and better protect consumers against illegal and counterfeit goods.

The new Union Customs Code (UCC) represents a major overhaul of existing EU customs legislation, which dates back to 1992. It is a milestone for the European Customs Union, the framework which allows more than €3 trillion worth of goods to flow in and out of the EU each year.

The new rules aim to:

– allow traders to clear customs procedures more simply and quickly, getting goods to consumers faster and more cheaply;

– better protect consumers against illegal goods or goods which don't respect European environmental, health and safety requirements;

– improve cooperation between customs administrations with the help of new IT systems.

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs said: "An efficient EU Customs Union facilitates trade while at the same time enforcing necessary rules for security, safety and intellectual property rights. The new Union Customs Code opens the door to new state-of-the-art IT systems that will provide fast and quality data on goods being traded and will allow extremely close coordination among the administrations of our Member States".

Modern IT systems are essential in order to allow customs systems to work efficiently and they are at the heart of the new rules. The new UCC puts in place IT systems that both customs administrations and traders need for simple and fast clearance of customs procedures while also ensuring that all necessary checks and controls are carried out. The new rules are the outcome of a rigorous and comprehensive dialogue involving all partners.

The Customs Union is unique in the world. It is a foundation of the European Union and essential for the proper functioning of the Single Market. Once cleared by Customs in one Member State, goods can move freely within the Union on the basis that all Member States apply the same revenue and protection rules at external borders.

The 28 customs administrations of the EU must act as though they were one entity, while also facilitating trade and protecting the health and safety of all EU citizens. These are not easy tasks. The EU is one of the largest trading blocks in the world. In 2015, the EU accounted for almost 15% of world trade in goods, worth €3.5 trillion. Managing this volume of international trade requires handling millions of customs declarations per year in a fast and efficient manner.

But customs are also there to protect. They play an important role in the fight against terrorism by checking for the illegal trafficking of firearms and illegal trade in works of art and cultural goods. They protect consumers against goods which present a risk to safety and health. For example, 454.2 tonnes of drugs, 35 million counterfeit goods and 3.2 billion cigarettes were seized in the EU in 2014. Appropriate controls require fast, high-quality and updated information and sound coordination among the customs administrations of our Member States.

What is the UCC?

The UCC is the new framework regulation for the rules and procedures for customs throughout the EU. It reflects a move towards a more modern customs environment for EU countries, making European business more competitive and advancing the EU Strategy for growth and jobs.

More specifically, it will:

¬– streamline customs legislation and procedures across the EU;

– offer greater legal certainty and uniformity to businesses and increase clarity for customs officials;

– simplify customs rules and procedures to make customs transactions more efficient and modern;

– complete the shift to a paperless and fully electronic and interoperable customs environment;

– introduce more speedy customs procedures for compliant and trustworthy businesses.

The UCC should be fully implemented by the end of 2020. During the transitional period, the new rules will apply by using existing IT systems and, in some cases, paper forms. Work to develop the new systems or to upgrade existing ones has already begun.

More information:

UCC on the DG TAXUD website

VIDEO: What is the UCC?

VIDEO: EU Customs in one minute

Follow the latest news from DG TAXUD

DG TAXUD on YouTube

US – Extension of Belarus-Related General License
On April 29, 2016, the Department of the Treasury, announced that in consultation and coordination with the Department of State, it is extending the authorization by general license of transactions involving certain Belarusian entities blocked pursuant to Executive Order 13405. This license does not generally authorize the release of property blocked pursuant to E.O. 13405. This authorization expires on October 31, 2016, unless extended or revoked.
EU amends level of retaliatory duties on certain US goods

On 28 April 2016, the Official Journal published Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/654 of 26 February 2016 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 673/2005 establishing additional customs duties on imports of certain products originating in the United States of America. The Delegated Regulation amends the Regulation that established retaliatory duties (of 15%) on certain products originating in the United States as a result of the United States’ failure to bring the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (CDSOA, more commonly known as the ‘Byrd Amendment’) in compliance with its obligations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements. In conformity with the WTO authorisation to suspend the application of concessions to the United States, the Commission is required to adjust the level of suspension annually to the level of nullification or impairment caused by the CDSOA to the European Union at that time.

The CDSOA disbursements for the most recent year for which data are available relate to the distribution of anti-dumping and countervailing duties collected during the fiscal year 2015 (1 October 2014 to 30 September 2015) as well as the additional distribution of anti-dumping and countervailing duties collected during the fiscal years 2011 and 2014. On the basis of the data published by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the level of nullification or impairment caused to the Union is calculated at USD 887 696.

The level of nullification or impairment and consequently of suspension has decreased. However, the level of suspension cannot be adjusted to the level of nullification or impairment by adding or removing products from the list in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 673/2005. As a consequence, in accordance with Article 3(1)(e) of Regulation (EC) No 673/2005, the Commission kept the list of products in Annex I to that Regulation unchanged and amended the rate of the additional duty in order to adjust the level of suspension to the level of nullification or impairment. The four products listed in Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 673/2005 will therefore be maintained on the list and the rate of additional import duty is amended and set at 0,45 %.

The products on which additional duties apply are identified by their eight-digit CN codes: 0710 40 00, 9003 19 30, 8705 10 00, and 6204 62 31.

US – Commerce seeks information on foreign subsidies of softwood lumber exported to the U.S.
On April 28, 2016, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration (Commerce) published in the Federal Register a notice seeking public comment on any subsidies, including stumpage subsidies, provided by certain countries (i.e., those whose exports accounted for at least one percent of total U.S. imports of softwood lumber by quantity, as classified under Harmonized Tariff Schedule code 4407.1001 (which accounts for the vast majority of imports)), exporting softwood lumber or softwood lumber products to the United States during the period July 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015. Comments must be submitted within 30 days after publication of the notice.
US – Commerce offers opportunity for listings of smart city products, etc.

On April 28, 2016, the International Trade Administration/Global Markets published in the Federal Register a notice of opportunity for U.S. companies to submit smart city products, services, and capabilities for showcasing as export listings in the upcoming Smart Cities, Regions & Communities: Global Tools of Engagement.

Located within the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration, Global Markets (GM) promotes trade and investment. GM works to improve the global business environment and helps U.S. organizations compete abroad. In furtherance of GM’s mission and the U.S. Department of Commerce strategic goal of increasing trade and investment opportunities for U.S. companies globally, GM is offering a new for-fee service for U.S. exporters to be listed in an Export Listing Guide as part of a larger Smart Cities Resource Guide inventorying the various initiatives and programming related to Smart Cities within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Export Listing Guide, which will be distributed at relevant trade fairs and exhibitions globally as well as on-line in a digital edition, aims to showcase U.S. goods and services in the various sectors comprising Smart City urban development globally. For the purposes of the Export Listing Guide, ‘Smart City’ is a broad urban development term generally referring to urban planning and infrastructure development focused around the integration of multiple information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to better manage a city’s municipal operations; and to provide real time citizen feedback for enhanced city governance. General domains of Smart City products and services can be categorized as: energy & power; water & sanitation; information and communications technology; transportation; healthcare; design & planning; infrastructure financing; environmental protection/safety; and/or governance solutions. Please see the supplementary information section of the Federal Register notice for additional detail regarding listing eligibility and submission requirements.

Submissions and payment must be received no later than 5:00 pm EDT on May 25, 2016 for publication in the 2016 edition. Please reference the ‘Submissions Instructions’ section of the Federal Register notice for submission guidance.

US – Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process legislation passes in House

On April 27, 2016, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (H.R. 4923) passed by a 415-2 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation (an identical bill, S 2794, was introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Finance) was reported out of the Ways and Means Committee unanimously on April 20, 2016. H.R. 4923 establishes a new framework for Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs) that permit tariff suspensions and reductions in duty for raw materials needed by American manufacturers and producers. The bill seeks to avoid the Congressional ban on “earmarks” by initiating the MTB process through a public International Trade Commission vetting process, before which ITC would analyze and seek public comment on MTB product petitions and submit its recommendations for goods to receive tariff benefits back to Congress for approval or disapproval. In past MTBs, involved importers, manufacturers and producers submitted petitions directly to a Member of Congress for introduction. It was then referred to the International Trade Commission, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for vetting and a determination of whether any resulting changes can be administered. Bills that passed this vetting were then consolidated in a single legislative package – sometimes tied to other trade legislation.

The Ways and Means Committee reported that the new MTB process has received broad bipartisan support from groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, and a coalition of more than 200 small businesses.

House Committee Report H. Rpt. 114-519, may be downloaded. For more information about the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, click here.

EU – Commission publishes draft guidance on Arts. 128, 136 IA of UCC
The European Commission has published draft guidance (Information Document Taxud B4/ (2016) 808781) for consideration and comments in relation to certain customs valuation rules in the Union Customs Code (UCC) legal package. The guidance is limited to UCC Implementing Act (IA) provisions on transaction value (Art. 70 UCC and Art. 128 IA) and royalties and licence fees (Art. 71 UCC and 136 IA). Guidance on the full range of valuation topics in the UCC legal package will follow in due course, according to the Commission. The Customs Valuation Compendium will be updated in a comprehensive manner in order to reflect the UCC legal package.
EU – Commission publishes report on state of play of TTIP negotiations

On 27 April 2016, he Commission published a report which presents a detailed break-down of progress made in the ongoing negotiation of a trade agreement between the EU and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The report shows that negotiators are making good progress in many TTIP chapters, while significant strides remain to be made in some areas in order to have the main elements of a deal finished this year.

The negotiations are currently in their 13th round, which is taking place in in New York this week. Also this week, during the Hannover industrial fair, Commissioner Cecilia Malmström met the US Trade Representative Michael Froman to take stock of the progress made so far in the negotiations.

India launches safeguard investigation on unwrought aluminium

On 21 April 2016, India notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 19 April 2016 a safeguard investigation on unwrought aluminum. In the notification, India indicated as follows:

“All interested parties may make their views known within a period of 30 days from the date of the notice issued (i.e. 19 April 2016) by the Director General (Safeguards) to:

The Director General (Safeguards)
Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan: 2nd Floor,
Bhai Vir Singh Marg,
Gole Market, New Delhi-110 001, INDIA.
Telefax: 011-23 74 15 42/ 23 74 15 37
E-mail: dgsafeguards nic.in

Any other party to the investigation who wishes to be considered as an interested party may submit its request so as to reach the Director General (Safeguards) on the aforementioned address within 15 days from the date of the aforesaid date of issuance of the notice by the Director General (Safeguards).”

Further information is available in G/SG/N/6/IND/43 and its corrigendum.

EU – Commission corrects UCC 2015 Delegated Regulation

On 27 April 2016, the Official Journal published Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/651 of 5 April 2016 correcting Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards detailed rules concerning certain provisions of the Union Customs Code (UCC). The new Delegated Regulation corrects two errors that were detected following publication of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446:

The first error concerns the presumption of a customs declaration laid down in Article 139 of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446 for some of the types of goods referred to in Article 136(1) of that Delegated Regulation.


That presumption was intended to cover the same types of goods as under the currently applicable Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93, namely pallets, containers and means of transport, and spare parts, accessories and equipment for those pallets, containers and means of transport, personal effects and goods for sports purposes, welfare materials for seafarers used on a vessel engaged in international maritime traffic, medical, surgical and laboratory equipment, disaster relief material used in connection with measures taken to counter the effects of disasters or similar situations affecting the customs territory of the Union and portable musical instruments temporarily imported by travellers and intended to be used as professional equipment. When Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446 was finalised, the order of the goods listed in its Article 136 was changed, but, by mistake, the references to those goods in Article 139 of that Delegated Regulation were not updated.

The references have therefore been corrected by replacing Article 139 with the following:
‘Article 139

1. Where not declared using other means, the goods referred to in points (a) to (d), point (h) and point (i) of Article 136(1) shall be deemed to be declared for temporary admission in accordance with Article 141.

2. Where not declared using other means, the goods referred to in points (a) to (d), point (h) and point (i) of Article 136(1) shall be deemed to be declared for re-export in accordance with Article 141 discharging the temporary admission procedure.’;

The second error concerns Article 141(1) of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446.

The currently applicable Article 233(1)(b) of Regulation (EEC) No 2454/93 provides for the possibility, in a number of limited and very specific cases, to deem the crossing of the border to be a declaration for temporary importation, export or re-export. By mistake, that provision was not included in Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, and as a result there is no possibility to declare certain goods by the sole act of crossing the frontier of the Union customs territory. At the adoption of Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, no change to the provision regarding the types of acts that are deemed to be a customs declaration was intended.

Article 141(1) has therefore been corrected y adding the following point (d):

‘(d) the sole act of the goods crossing the frontier of the customs territory of the Union in any of the following situations:

(i) where an exemption from the obligation to convey goods to the appropriate place applies in accordance with the special rules referred to in Article 135(5) of the Code;

(ii) where goods are deemed to be declared for re-export in accordance with Article 139(2) of this Regulation;

(iii) where goods are deemed to be declared for export in accordance with Article 140(1) of this Regulation.’.

US – CBP/Forest Service announce intent to prepare Joint EIS

On April 27, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Forest Service (Forest Service), published in the Federal Register a notice announcing that CBP and the Forest Service Idaho Panhandle National Forests (IPNF) (collectively the “Agencies”’) intend to prepare a joint Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to identify and assess potential impacts upon the environment of: Repairing and maintaining an approximately 5.6-mile section of the existing Bog Creek Road, which is located in the Selkirk Mountains in Boundary County, Idaho, within approximately two miles of the Canadian border, on land within the Blue-Grass Bear Management Unit (BMU) that is managed by the IPNF; and closing for motorized use additional roads within the Blue-Grass BMU to comply with the IPNF Forest Plan Amendments for Motorized Access Management within the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yaak Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones (Access Amendment) and reduce road density in the Blue-Grass BMU. The notice initiates the public scoping process for the preparation of the EIS. The purpose of the public scoping process is to solicit public comments regarding the potential environmental impacts that may be addressed. This notice commences the public scoping period for which CBP and IPNF are requesting written comments. This process is being conducted pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the NEPA (40 C.F.R. parts 1500–1508), and CBP and Forest Service NEPA guidelines. Additionally, pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the public scoping process will allow members of the general public to provide CBP and IPNF comments on potential impacts to historic and cultural resources for the proposed action.

The scoping comment period will be 30 days. To ensure consideration, comments must be received by May 27, 2016.

Comments may be submitted as set forth in the ADDRESSES section of the Federal Register notice. This project implements a land management plan and is subject to 36 C.F.R. part 218, subparts A and B of the Forest Service’s Project-level Predecisional Administrative Review Process. Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. part 218, only those who provide specific, written comments regarding the proposed project will be eligible to file an objection.

US – CBP announces ACE In-Transit Manifest Pilot Program

On April 27, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing that CBP plans to conduct a National Customs Automation Program (NCAP) test relating to truck shipments of commercial goods that transit from a point of origination in Canada through the United States to a point of destination in Canada. Under the NCAP test, CBP will use a new filing code to identify shipments as being part of the In-Transit Manifest Pilot Program in CBP’s Automated Commercial Environmental (ACE) Truck Manifest System. Test participants will submit electronically an in-transit manifest with a relaxed validation for the value data element and they will not have to provide the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) number. The notice provides a description of the NCAP test and specifies the duration and locations of the test. It also invites public comment on any aspect of the test.

The test will commence no earlier than May 27, 2016 and will run for approximately six months at the following ports: Port Huron, Michigan; Pembina, North Dakota; and Blaine, Washington. Comments concerning this notice and all aspects of the announced test may be submitted at any time during the test period.

Canada – Government invites comments on proposed MFN tariff elimination on certain agri-food processing inputs

On April 23, 2016, the Canada Gazette published a notice announcing that the Government is seeking the views of interested parties on the elimination of Most-Favoured-Nation (MFN) rates of customs duty on certain agri-food processing inputs. The tariff items being considered for elimination of the rate of customs duty are listed in Table 1 of the notice with their current MFN rates.

The Canadian agri-food processing industry is Canada’s largest manufacturing employer and an important contributor to the Can¬adian economy. Budget 2016 announced the Government’s inten¬tion to launch public consultations on eliminating tariffs on certain imported food manufacturing ingredients, other than supply-managed products, to support investment and job creation in this important sector.

The Government has reviewed Canada’s tariff regime to identify opportunities to help improve the competitiveness of Canadian agri-food processors in domestic and foreign markets by reducing non-recoverable production costs.

The Government proposes to reduce to “Free” the MFN rates of customs duty on the tariff items listed in Table 1 of the notice. The tariff items in Table 1 have been selected based on the following factors:

    • Goods covered by these tariff items are used in agri-food processing;
    • Eliminating the tariff on these goods will reduce production costs for Canadian industry; and
    • There is interest from stakeholders in eliminating MFN tariffs on some of these goods to enhance competitiveness.

The description of the tariff items listed in Table 1 can be found in the latest consolidated version of the Customs Tariff.

Interested parties wishing to comment on the proposed MFN tariff elimination should submit their views in writing by June 21, 2016 with the information listed in the notice.

UK/EU – Brexit - Export Controls and Sanctions Considerations

With the UK referendum on a so-called “Brexit” set to take place in under two months, businesses should start considering what effect leaving the European Union (EU) will have for them. In our previous blog we set out general considerations for businesses in the lead-up to the referendum on 23 June 2016, which would help them establish whether or not the UK’s membership of the EU is an overall benefit to them or not.

If the UK left the EU, things will change, at least in the short term. It is a safe assumption that the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) will be repealed, but what this means in practice is far from certain.

For businesses with a focus on customs and export controls, and businesses which frequently encounter sanctions issues as part of their day-to-day trade, we have compiled a more focused list of questions, to which consideration should be given when determining whether or not to remain in the EU, and what to do in the event of a Brexit.

EXPORT CONTROLS


What statutory powers would permit export controls by UK?

  • A priority is likely to be determining whether the UK could create its own export regime in the wake of a Brexit. Even if the ECA 1972 were to be repealed, by virtue of the Export Control Act 2002 the Secretary of State would have the statutory power to make impose export controls in relation to goods of any description. The UK could therefore, reconstitute its own, UK-specific export controls regime in the event of a Brexit.


Will the UK remain part of all relevant international agreements?

    • The UK is currently a member of relevant international agreements (i.e. Wassenaar, MTCR, Australia Group and NSG) in its own right; not by virtue of being a member of the EU. In the event of a Brexit, the UK would therefore remain a member of these agreements even if it were to leave the EU.

Would the UK adopt a Union General Export Authorisation (UGEA) equivalent for the EU, or just add various Member States (MS) to OGELs?

  • If the UK were to leave the EU, there would be a question as to whether the UK would want to control any of its exports to the EU-27, and whether the UK would adopt a ‘one size fits all’ UGEA for the EU, or simply add various MS to OGELs. Administratively, a UGEA-type licence for EU-27 would be much easier.


Would all EU MS given equal status as “UK UGEA” or “OGEL” beneficiaries, or would some EU MS be preferred?

  • It is likely that the UK would not want to grant the same status to all the MS of the EU, but rather that it would grant preference to some MS over others, due to possible end-use concerns that may be more prevalent with regard to some MS than others.

How would the EU-27 treat the UK? Would it add the UK to a UGEA? Would the EU-27 permit UK to a participate in any discussions around policy/coordination?

  • It is unlikely that the EU-27 would refuse to grant a UGEA to the UK, but in order to maximise the chances of the UK being added to the EU’s UGEA, it would make sense for the UK to coordinate and align with the EU with regard to its export control policy.

Would the UK now need more export control specialists at the operational level, or at the policy level?

  • If the ECO were required to audit every export to the EU-27, it is likely that it will need more staff to cope with the increased volume of exports that require scrutiny. In addition, as the UK’s own export control policy starts to develop, it is also likely that more specialists will be required at the policy level.

Potential issue if Scotland withdraws from the UK to stay in EU?

  • If Scotland held another referendum in the wake of a Brexit and voted to leave the UK in order to stay in the EU, then the UK would need a border with Scotland for export control purposes. This would mean increased export controls and customs issues when trading with Scotland, which could pose issues especially in the oil and gas sector.

SANCTIONS

Will UK be able to become part of all relevant international systems?

  • The UK is already part of the United Nations (UN) and a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC). It therefore should not have issues regarding influencing sanctions-related decisions at an international level, even if it left the EU.

In the event of a Brexit, will the UK keep EU measures that it has implemented into national law, or undo them?

  • If the UK repeals the ECA 1972, in principle all EU law (such as EC Regulations and CFSP Decisions) will no longer be binding and, even if implemented into national law, could technically be repealed. Any EU sanctions measures would therefore become discretionary in the UK.

What sanctions policy would the UK adopt in the event of a Brexit?

  • In terms of a UK sanctions policy post-Brexit, it is difficult to say whether they UK would want to coordinate with the EU-27, create its own separate UK policy, or look towards the U.S. for direction on its sanctions policy. Ideas of sovereignty would suggest that the UK may want to create its own, independent policy, but security needs may push the UK to align itself with the U.S. or continue to coordinate with the EU-27.

What statutory powers would permit imposition of sanctions by the UK? Do we need new primary legislation?

  • UK statutory instruments (SIs) implementing EU sanctions legislation state that the ECA 1972 confers the power on the UK Treasury to create the UK sanctions legislation. In the event of a Brexit, if the ECA 1972 were to be repealed, the UK would therefore need to create new primary legislation in order to permit imposition of sanctions.

Is the Office Of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) optimised to be a coordinator of sanctions in the UK?

  • Whilst OFSI ensures that financial sanctions are properly understood, implemented, and enforced in the UK, it does not specialise in goods and products controls contained in many EU sanctions. It is therefore likely that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) or the UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) would need to provide some input in coordinating implementation of sanctions in the UK post-Brexit.

Should you want to talk through the issues in more detail and discuss the possible implications for your business then we can help. Please contact Ross Denton or Sunny Mann at our London Office. Check our Sanctions Blog for additional updates.

We will also be hosting a webinar on 18 May 2016 which will look at the possible implications of a Brexit vote. If you would like further details on this, please contact kate.bullard bakermckenzie.com.

US – CBP announces 2016 West Coast Trade Symposium
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)has announced that the 2016 West Coast Trade Symposium is scheduled for May 25-26, 2016 and will be held at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. The theme for the Trade Symposium is " Trade Facilitation and Enforcement: The Path to Economic Competitiveness”. Registration for onsite participation opened on April 26, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. ET. •The registration fee for onsite participation is $182.00 U.S. dollars. Registration must be made on-line at CBP.gov and payment must be made by credit card. For onsite participation, registrations will be confirmed and processed on a first come, first served basis. Click the following link to register: 2016WCTS (https://apps.cbp.gov/tradesymposium/index.asp?w=25). For the agenda, please see http://www.cbp.gov/trade/stakeholder-engagement/trade-symposium
WTO members gear up for implementing Nairobi agreement on preferential rules of origin

The WTO announced on 22 April 2016, that WTO members held their first discussions regarding implementation of the Ministerial Decision on Preferential Rules of Origin for Least Developed Countries (LDCs). The Ministerial Decision was one of the key outcomes of the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi last December.

The provisions set out under the Nairobi Decision aim to facilitate least-developed countries’ export of goods to both developed and developing countries under unilateral preferential trade arrangements in favour of LDCs. Key beneficiaries will be countries of the LDC Group, the proponent for the Nairobi Decision.

The Nairobi Decision builds on the earlier 2013 Bali Ministerial Decision on preferential rules of origin by providing more detailed directions on specific issues, such as methods for determining when a product qualifies as “made in an LDC”, and when inputs from other sources can be “cumulated” — or combined together — into the consideration of origin. The provisions also call on preference-granting members to consider simplifying documentary and procedural requirements related to origin as well as other measures to further streamline customs procedures.

At a meeting of the WTO’s committee on rules of origin, the chairman, Christian Wegener (Denmark), reminded delegations that the Nairobi Decision contains an obligation for members to inform the committee about efforts they are making to implement the decision. Members thus need to start preparing this submission.

The chairman noted that, for developed countries, a notification on implementation is due by the end of 2016, while for developing countries with preferential schemes, the notification is due when they decide to start implementing the Nairobi Decision, in line with the flexibilities set out in paragraph 4.1 of the Decision.

EU – Commission issues revised AEO Guidelines

On 11 March 2016, the European Commission Directorate-General of Taxation and Customs Union issued revised Authorised Economic Operators (AEO) Guidelines (Doc. TAXUD/B2/047/2011 –Rev.6). The AEO concept is based on the Customs-to-Business partnership introduced by the World Customs Organisation (WCO). Traders who voluntarily meet a wide range of criteria work in close cooperation with customs authorities to assure the common objective of supply chain security. The Guidelines do not constitute a legally binding act and are of an explanatory nature. Their purpose is to ensure a common understanding for both customs authorities and economic operators and to provide a tool to facilitate the correct and harmonised application by Member States of the legal provisions on AEO. They constitute a single document together with its annexes covering all main tools used during the AEO application and management procedure. These Guidelines are updated on a regular basis to reflect legal developments and to include practical experience gained so far as well as best practices acquired. The most recent Guidelines consist of 7 parts with 4 annexes:

Part 1 of the Guidelines provides general information about the EU AEO programme including the benefits of the status and mutual recognition.

Part 2 of the Guidelines describes the AEO criteria and the different aspects of the security requirements and supply chain security.

Part 3 of the Guidelines deals with the overall decision-making process concerning both customs authorities and economic operators.

Part 4 of the Guidelines describes different aspects of the exchange of information between customs authorities including consultation.

Part 5 of the Guidelines covers all aspects related to the management of the already granted status, including monitoring, re-assessment, amendment, suspension and revocation.

Part 6 of the Guidelines deals with Mutual Recognition of AEO Programmes

Part 7 of the Guidelines contains the Annexes.

Annex 1 includes the Self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) and its Explanatory Notes. According to Article 26 Union Customs Code Delegated Act (UCC DA) in order to apply for the status of AEO the applicant shall submit a self-assessment questionnaire, which the customs authorities shall make available, together with the application.

Annex 2 includes the document 'Threats, Risks and Possible solutions' which is addressed both to customs authorities and economic operators. It aims at facilitating the audit and the examination to ensure compliance with AEO criteria by matching the information provided in the SAQ and the risk areas identified and also provide examples of possible solutions to cover the risks and threats identified.

Annex 3 includes an example of a template for security declaration.

Annex 4 includes a list of examples of information to be shared with customs authorities according to Article 23 (2) Union Customs Code (UCC).

US – USTR determines not to list any countries as denying fair market opportunities
On April 26, 2016, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice indicating that, pursuant to section 533 of the Airport and Airway Improvement Act of 1982, as amended (49 U.S.C. 50104), the USTR has determined not to list any countries as denying fair market opportunities for U.S. products, suppliers, or bidders in foreign government-funded airport construction projects.
US – CBP announces West Coast Trade Symposium

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that the 2016 West Coast Trade Symposium will be held on May 25-26 at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, Arizona. Registration will open tomorrow, Tuesday, April 26th at 12:00 pm EDT. Check http://www.cbp.gov/trade/stakeholder-engagement/trade-symposium.

This year’s topics will include:

    • An overview of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act and its implementation;
    • What’s next for the U.S. Single Window;
    • The Trusted Trader Concept; and
    • E-commerce and trends in the Supply Chain
US –CBP to permit submission of PGA forms through DIS until ACE mandatory deadlines

On April 22, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued CSMS#16-000321 (and 16-000320) announcing that the below listed Partnering Government Agencies (PGAs) are now allowing the submission of the forms on the linked list to CBP and the appropriate agencies through the Document Imaging System (DIS) for ACE Cargo Release filers for an interim period from now until the ACE PGA message set and/or DIS becomes mandatory for PGA data.

The following agencies have agreed to allow their forms to be submitted via DIS during the course of their pilots until the ACE mandatory dates:

    • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
    • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • Fish and Wild Life Service (FWS)
    • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)

CBP states that the PGA forms that require approval and/or signature by the PGA must obtain the approval/signature from the PGA prior to submitting the form in DIS. Those forms requiring PGA approval prior to submission in DIS are indicated by an asterisk in the forms list. These forms include the ATF Release & Receipt of Imported Firearms, Ammunition and Implements of War Form (6A) and the EPA Notice of Arrival of Pesticides and Devices Form (EPA 3540-1). Also, the ATF Form 6A no longer needs to be signed by CBP and mailed to ATF if the form is submitted through DIS. In addition, the EPA Form 3540-01 mentioned above does not need to be signed by CBP. Unless deemed necessary, there is no requirement for CBP to print out the submitted forms from DIS.

During this interim period, filers do not have to submit the forms in paper to CBP. Filers need only to upload the PGA forms via DIS in order for CBP to verify the PGA requirements have been met.

Filers participating in PGA pilots may still submit the required data via the PGA message set. This interim DIS policy is merely providing the option for Cargo Release filers to submit the attached set of PGA forms in DIS until the data captured in those forms will be required to be submitted through the PGA message set.

Once all ACE mandatory dates are implemented, all filers will have to conform to the PGA message set and/or DIS requirements set forth by each PGA. For example, the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) filings are currently mandatory in ACE, and the HS-7 Declaration data must be transmitted with the PGA message set, so the HS-7 does not qualify for submission through DIS.

Miscellaneous Tariff Bill reported out of Committee

On April 20, 2016, the House Ways and Means Committee unanimously reported the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (H.R. 4923) out of Committee. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation now goes to the full House of Representatives where strong support is expected. H.R. 4923 establishes a new framework for Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs) that permit tariff suspensions and reductions in duty for raw materials needed by American manufacturers and producers. It seeks to avoid the Congressional ban on “earmarks” by initiating the MTB process through a public International Trade Commission vetting process, before which ITC would analyze and seek public comment on MTB product petitions and submit its recommendations for goods to receive tariff benefits back to Congress for approval or disapproval. In past MTBs, involved importers, manufacturers and producers submitted petitions directly to a Member of Congress for introduction. It was then referred to the International Trade Commission, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for vetting and a determination of whether any resulting changes can be administered.

The Ways and Means Committee reported that the new MTB process has received broad bipartisan support from groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers, Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, and a coalition of more than 200 small businesses.

For more information about the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, click here.

US – President issues EO blocking property and suspending entry of persons contributing to situation in Libya

On April 21, 2016, the Federal Register published Executive Order 13726 of April 19, 2016 - Blocking Property and Suspending Entry Into the United States of Persons Contributing to the Situation in Libya. The Executive Order (EO) expands the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13566 of February 25, 2011, finding that the ongoing violence in Libya, including attacks by armed groups against Libyan state facilities, foreign missions in Libya, and critical infrastructure, as well as human rights abuses, violations of the arms embargo imposed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011), and misappropriation of Libya’s natural resources threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, democratic transition, and territorial integrity of Libya, and thereby constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The EO addresses this threat and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2174 of August 27, 2014, and 2213 of March 27, 2015.

Please check our Sanctions Blog for updates.

US – FDA issues Import Alert on imported shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia

On April 18, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that its District Offices may detain, without physical examination, imports of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia due to testing that found that approximately one-third of imports from peninsular Malaysia contained residues of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol.

FDA testing in fiscal year 2015 has shown an increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp and prawns containing residues of nitrofurans and chloramphenicol. Shrimp or prawns that contain residues of nitrofurans or chloramphenicol are adulterated and not permitted in United States commerce.

In the past, the FDA has taken steps to prevent companies with violative shipments from continuing to import shrimp and prawns containing nitrofuran and chloramphenicol residues by placing them on existing Import Alerts. This means that the companies’ future shipments may be detained without physical examination at the port of entry and the importer may submit evidence, such as test results from a private laboratory, demonstrating that the products are free of nitrofuran and chloramphenicol residues. The agency has requested that the Malaysian government investigate the cause of the residue problem and develop a program of short-term and long-term actions to prevent the export of violative shrimp from Malaysia to the United States.

Despite Malaysia’s ban on the use of chloramphenicol and nitrofurans in seafood farm operations, the FDA has continued to find residues of these drugs in shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia exported to the United States. From October 1, 2014, to September 30, 2015, the FDA tested 138 samples of shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia. In all, 45 samples (32 percent) contained residues of chloramphenicol and/or nitrofurans. For that reason, FDA is today placing companies processing and/or shipping shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia on Import Alert. Malaysia’s states of Sabah and Sarawak are not subject to the import alert.

In order to secure release of an individual shipment identified for DWPE under the import alert, the owner or consignee of the affected goods should provide the results of a private laboratory analysis of a representative sample(s) collected from the affected article as evidence that the product does not bear or contain any nitrofuran or chloramphenicol residues.
In order to facilitate and expedite a review of the processor’s request for removal from DWPE under the import alert, the FDA recommends that the processor submit information to allow the FDA reviewers to adequately assess whether the processor(s) has appropriate controls and processes in place to ensure future shrimp and/or prawns from the processor will not bear or contain nitrofuran or chloramphenicol residues and will be in compliance with the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetics Act.

In addition to the FDA’s review of documentation submitted requesting removal from DWPE, the FDA, either solely or in conjunction with the relevant Malaysian regulatory authority, may conduct on-site inspections of the processor and/or the processor’s Malaysian supplier(s) (including aquaculture farms and processors preceding the shipper), where applicable, prior to rendering a decision to place the processor and processor’s products on the Green List.

Additional information is available by accessing the Import Alert.

WTO – Participants prepare for first expanded ITA tariff cuts

On 18 April 2016, the WTO announced that the Committee on the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), at a meeting on 18 April 2016, heard reports about current preparations for implementation of the Nairobi Ministerial Declaration on the Expansion of Trade in IT Products. The declaration established that the first set of tariff cuts were to be implemented on 1 July 2016 and the second set no later than 1 July 2017, with successive reductions taking place on 1 July 2018 and effective elimination no later than 1 July 2019. The announcement said -

The European Union, Switzerland, Norway and Costa Rica emphasized the importance of the ITA expansion and encouraged other members of the Committee to join the Expansion Agreement. In the EU’s view, eliminating tariffs in a further set of products will allow industry to reduce the cost of importing the hardware necessary to develop the IT sector, create highly qualified jobs for young people, make other industries more efficient by using IT and enable countries to become part of global value chains.

The expansion of the ITA, agreed at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December 2015, eliminates tariffs on an additional 201 IT products valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. Negotiations were conducted by over 50 WTO members but all 162 WTO members will benefit from the Agreement as they will all enjoy duty-free market access to the markets of the members eliminating tariffs on these products.
Seven members of the Committee (United States, European Union, Japan, Korea, Canada, Norway and Australia) sought justification or clarification from India on a Customs notification that raises duties to 10 per cent ad valorem for several ITA products. These members considered that, according to India’s certified WTO schedule of concessions, the duties of the products should be bound to “zero”.

India said that it had heard the concerns expressed by members and informed them that the written questions submitted by some had been sent to capital for analysis. Products mentioned in the questions submitted by the European Union, Japan and the United States include telecommunications switches, voice-over internet protocol phones, optical transport equipment and network products.

In addition to reviewing the status of implementation of the ministerial declaration on trade in ITA products and the current work on non-tariff barriers, the Committee also approved on an ad referendum basis the classification of an additional 15 items for which there were classification divergences.

EU/US – 13th Round Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Negotiations - 25–29 April 2016

The thirteenth round of EU - U.S. negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement will take place in New York, NY from 25–29 April. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) will host a stakeholder forum on Thursday 28 April from 11:00 – 16:30 to provide an update on negotiations and solicit input and feedback from interested stakeholders, as well as a press conference on Friday 29 April to discuss outcomes from the negotiations.

STAKEHOLDER FORUM

1. Stakeholder presentations – 11:00 – 14:30
Please let us know if you plan to attend, and if you are interested in participating as a presenter. Presentation times are assigned on a first come, first served basis. Please register by Wednesday 20 April. This event is open to press.

2. Chief Negotiators Briefing – 15:15 – 16:30
The EU and U.S. chief negotiators will provide a briefing on the status of the negotiations, and will answer stakeholder questions. The briefing is open to registered stakeholders, but is closed to press. In order to attend, stakeholders must register by Wednesday 20 April. Registration for stakeholders is open.

US – State issues determinations under International Religious Freedom Act of 1998

On April 20, 2016, the Department of State published in the Federal Register a document [Public Notice: 9527] setting forth the Secretary of State’s designation of “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations pursuant to Section 408(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-292), as amended (the Act). The Secretary has designated each of the following as a “country of particular concern” under the Act, for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The Secretary simultaneously designated the following Presidential Actions for these countries:

    • For Burma, the existing ongoing arms embargo referenced in 22 C.F.R. 126.1(a);
    • For China, the existing ongoing restriction on exports to China of crime control and detection instruments and equipment, under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1990 and 1991 (Pub. L.101-246);
    • For Eritrea, the existing ongoing arms embargo referenced in 22 C.F.R. 126.1(a);
    • For Iran, the existing ongoing travel restrictions based on serious human rights abuses under sec. 221(a)(1)(C) of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012;
    • For the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the existing ongoing restrictions to which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is subject, pursuant to sec. 402 and 409 of the Trade Act of 1974 (the Jackson-Vanik Amendment);
    • For Saudi Arabia, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States”;
    • For Sudan, the restriction in the annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act on making certain appropriated funds available for assistance to the Government of Sudan;
    • For Tajikistan, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States”;
    • For Turkmenistan, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States”;
    • For Uzbekistan, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States.”
US – FTC proposes amendments to Hobby Protection Act rules

On April 20, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for public comments on proposed amendments to its Rules and Regulations Under the Hobby Protection Act (Rules) which were drafted in response to earlier public comments and in response to Congressional amendments to the Hobby Protection Act (Hobby Act).

On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Collectible Coin Protection Act (CCPA; Public Law 113– 288), a short set of amendments to the Hobby Act. The CCPA amends the Hobby Act’s scope to address not only the distribution by manufacturers and importers of imitation numismatic items, but also “the sale in commerce” of such items. Additionally, the CCPA makes it a violation of the Hobby Act “for a person to provide substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller if that person knows or should have known that the manufacturer, importer, or seller is engaged in any act or practice” violating the marking requirements of the Hobby Act.

The FTC proposes to align its Rules with the Hobby Act by: (1) Extending the Rules’ scope to cover persons or entities engaged in “the sale in commerce” of imitation numismatic items; and (2) stating that persons or entities violate the Rules if they provide substantial assistance or support to any manufacturer, importer, or seller of imitation numismatic items, or any manufacturer or importer of imitation political items, when they know, or should have known, that such person is engaged in any act or practice violating the marking requirements set forth in the Hobby Act and the Rules. The FTC is soliciting comment on the proposed amendments and the regulatory burden they may impose on businesses.

However, the FTC does not propose amending its Rules to incorporate the CCPA’s provisions regarding the proper location for lawsuits or the protection of the trademark rights of collectible certification services as the existing Rules do not address, relate to, or conflict with those provisions. Additionally, it is not necessary to modify the Rules to address specific collectible items.

Lastly, the FTC does not propose modifying the Rules to ban the sale of fantasy coins outright. Sales of properly-marked fantasy coins are lawful under the FTC’s decision in In re Gold Bullion Int’l, Ltd., 92 F.T.C. 196 (1978), which held that vendors could sell coins with date variations so long as the coins are marked with the word ‘Copy.’ By contrast, the federal statute prohibiting the alteration of U.S. coins requires fraudulent intent. 18 U.S.C. 331. Accordingly, the FTC finds no grounds to adopt a rule banning fantasy coins.

In order to be considered, comments must be receive by the FTC on or before July 1, 2016.
UK - Office of Financial Sanctions issues guidance on sanctions

This month, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), a part of HM Treasury, which is the competent authority for the implementation of financial sanctions in the UK, issued a document entitled, Financial Sanctions: Guidance (the Guide). Most financial sanctions are made through EU law which has direct effect under UK law. OFSI works closely with the EU Commission and other member states in implementing sanctions and developing EU guidance in this area. Other financial sanctions are put in place by UK laws. OFSI cannot issue definitive guidance as to how an EU or UK court might interpret these laws.

The guide document provides a guide to the approach which OFSI will take when issuing licences and considering compliance, taking into account case law and EU guidance as at the date of publication. It does not represent legal advice.

The Guide is prepared in two parts. Part A provides a general overview of the financial sanctions framework which applies in the UK. Part B provides practical examples of how OFSI will generally approach licencing and compliance questions, although each case will be considered on its own facts and the specific legal requirements applying to the relevant financial sanctions regime.

References to ‘a person’ throughout the Guide include natural people, as well as entities and bodies of any type. References to a ‘designated person’ are to persons who are subject to an asset freeze, and references to the ‘listing’ of a person means their inclusion on the list of designated persons.

Panama – Cabinet adopts major customs provisions complementing the Uniform Central American Customs Code and Regulations
US – State issues determinations under International Religious Freedom Act of 1998

On April 20, 2016, the Department of State published in the Federal Register a document [Public Notice: 9527] setting forth the Secretary of State’s designation of “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations pursuant to Section 408(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Pub. L. 105-292), as amended (the Act). The Secretary has designated each of the following as a “country of particular concern” under the Act, for having engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The Secretary simultaneously designated the following Presidential Actions for these countries:

    • For Burma, the existing ongoing arms embargo referenced in 22 C.F.R. 126.1(a);
    • For China, the existing ongoing restriction on exports to China of crime control and detection instruments and equipment, under the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1990 and 1991 (Pub. L.101-246);
    • For Eritrea, the existing ongoing arms embargo referenced in 22 C.F.R. 126.1(a);
    • For Iran, the existing ongoing travel restrictions based on serious human rights abuses under sec. 221(a)(1)(C) of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012;
    • For the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the existing ongoing restrictions to which the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is subject, pursuant to sec. 402 and 409 of the Trade Act of 1974 (the Jackson-Vanik Amendment);
    • For Saudi Arabia, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States”;
    • For Sudan, the restriction in the annual Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act on making certain appropriated funds available for assistance to the Government of Sudan;
    • For Tajikistan, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States”;
    • For Turkmenistan, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States”;
    • For Uzbekistan, a waiver as required in the “important national interest of the United States.”
EU takes actions to boost Tunisia’s economy

On 18 April 2016, the Official Journal published Regulation (EU) 2016/580 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 April 2016 on the introduction of emergency autonomous trade measures for the Republic of Tunisia. The Regulation seeks to boost Tunisia’s economy following the terrorist attack of 26 June 2015 near Sousse, Tunisia by setting up an attractive and reliable market for Tunisia's exports of olive oil by introducing autonomous trade measures allowing for the import of 35 000 tons of Tunisian olive oil into the Union on the basis of a duty free tariff quota. In order to prevent fraud and to ensure that the envisioned autonomous trade measures will really benefit the Tunisian economy, those measures are subject to compliance by Tunisia with the rules provided for in the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement regarding the origin of products and the procedures related thereto, as well as to Tunisia's effective administrative cooperation with the Union. The duty free quota will apply to untreated olive oil originating in Tunisia and falling within CN codes 1509 10 10 and 1509 10 90 where such untreated olive oil is wholly obtained in Tunisia and transported directly from Tunisia to the Union.

The additional volume generated by the autonomous trade measures is only made available after the exhaustion of the volume of the annual untreated olive oil duty free tariff quota laid down in Article 3(1) of Protocol No 1 to the Agreement. The emergency autonomous trade measures established by the Regulation are intended to alleviate the difficult economic situation, which Tunisia is currently facing, due to the terrorist attacks. The measures are limited in time (the Regulation applies until 31 December 2017) and are without prejudice to negotiations between the Union and Tunisia on the establishment of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

Australia – Update on the implementation of the Australian Government’s proposed Country Origin Labelling Reforms for food sold in Australia

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science announced that on 31 March 2016, Commonwealth, state and territory ministers with responsibility for consumer affairs met and agreed to the Commonwealth’s preferred proposal for country of origin labelling reform, supported by a Decision Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). See the Communique from the meeting.

There is still work to be done to finalise the reforms before they can officially commence. It is expected that reforms will commence from 1 July 2016 and business will have two years to transition to the new arrangements. In addition, current stock in trade will also be allowed to see out its use-by-date.

Work still to be done includes:

    • registration, tabling and passing of changes to Australian Consumer Law (ACL) legislation including the new Information Standard and amendments to the ACL safe harbour defences;
    • finalisation of an online tool, Style Guide and other resources to assist businesses to determine which labels to use, and to download label artwork; and
    • a national information campaign to inform consumers and business about the reforms.

Click here for more information about the labelling reforms

The new system, which was the result of extensive consultation with industry and consumers, will see the continuation of mandatory country of origin labelling for most food offered for retail sale in Australia. In addition to a statement about where the food was produced, grown, made or packaged, most Australian food will carry the familiar kangaroo symbol and an indication of the proportion of Australian ingredients by weight through a statement and a bar graph. The new system will also see clearer rules around when food labels can carry ‘made in’ or ‘packed in’ statements.

OFAC issues Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations

On April 15, 2016, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published in the Federal Register a final rule issuing regulations to implement the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 (HIFPA), which requires the President to prescribe certain regulations. The new Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations (HFSR) will be in 31 C.F.R. Part 566.

HIFPA requires the President to prescribe regulations to prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable through account by a foreign financial institution that the President determines, on or after December 18, 2015, engages in one or more of the following activities: (1) Knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions for Hizballah; (2) knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions of a person identified on the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List) maintained by OFAC, the property and interests in property of which are blocked pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) for acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or being owned or controlled by, Hizballah; (3) knowingly engaging in money laundering to carry out an activity described in (1) or (2); or (4) knowingly facilitating a significant transaction or transactions or providing significant financial services to carry out an activity described in (1), (2), or (3). The President delegated certain functions and authorities, with respect to the determinations provided for therein, to the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State.

Part 566 is divided into subparts, as follows:

Subpart A - Relation of This Part to Other Laws and Regulations

Subpart B – Prohibitions [implements section 102 of the HIFTA]

Subpart C – General Definitions [defines key terms used throughout the Regulations]

Subpart D – Interpretations [contains interpretive sections regarding the Regulations and sets forth the types of factors that, as a general matter, the Secretary of the Treasury will consider in determining whether transactions or financial services are significant.]

Subpart E – Licenses, Authorizations, and Statements of Licensing Policy

Subpart F – Reports [refers to Part 501 for recordkeeping and reporting requirements]

Subpart G – Penalties [refers to Appendix A of Part 501]

Subpart H – Procedures [refers to subpart E of part 501 for applicable provisions relating to administrative procedures and contains a delegation of authority by the Secretary of the Treasury

Subpart I – Paperwork Reduction Act

The rule was effective on April 15, 2016.

EU/UK – Brexit – Are you ready?

The referendum to be held on 23 June 2016 will offer UK voters the choice of (i) remaining in the EU, or (ii) leaving, a so-called "Brexit". The referendum is shrouded by uncertainty, both as to the result, and what might happen if a Brexit vote does in fact happen. Businesses themselves have little or no role or influence in the vote, but if a Brexit vote does happen, businesses can and should have a significant role in what comes next. In the period of uncertainty that will inevitably follow a Brexit vote, businesses with clear and reasoned views as to what should happen next will be listened to by the UK Government and Civil Service.

If there is a Brexit vote, the UK will need to have some form of relationship with the remaining EU Member States (the "EU-27"), as well as with third countries. There is currently no legal or political framework for what these relationships will look like, but what is sure is that there will be a significant period of uncertainty. What is likely is that most (if not all) trade agreements to which the EU is a party will cease to benefit the UK, and it is unlikely that new trade agreements will be concluded with all relevant third parties by the time the UK withdraws from the EU. At some point, therefore, the UK will lose (even if only on a temporary basis) the benefit of duty free trade in goods and liberalised access to service markets with the EU-27 and all other major trading partners.

Many businesses are struggling to understand whether or not they will benefit or be at risk if the UK does decide to withdraw from the EU. Asking the right questions now will help companies identify the potential risks and opportunities that a Brexit scenario will cause for the business.

The starting point for any business should be to ask itself two questions:

1. Is the UK’s membership of the European Union an overall benefit or a disadvantage to your business?

2. How will the answer to the first question change when considering the possible alternatives to EU membership?

In order to determine the answers to these two questions, we have compiled a list of issues that businesses should begin to consider:


    • Does your business manufacture in the UK? If so, where does your business purchase its inputs from?
      If you purchase inputs from a third country, with which the EU has a FTA, import into the UK post-Brexit would become subject to tariffs.
    • Does your business consume services in the UK provided from third countries?
      If you consume services from a third country, with which the EU has a FTA, provision of those services in the UK post-Brexit would become subject to limitations.
    • Where are your business’ main markets?
      If you sell goods to a third country, with which the EU has a FTA, those exports post-Brexit would become subject to tariffs.
    • Does your business’ supply of goods/services into the EU require establishment in the EU?
      UK businesses not established in the EU may lose access to rights that are dependent on an entity being established in the EU.
    • Does your business have many mobile employees or employees that travel/work in different locations around the EU?
      Free movement of workers will not be guaranteed post-Brexit, and conditions may be imposed on the movement of UK citizens into the EU-27.
    • Does your business have any long term contracts which might be affected by withdrawal from the EU? What, if any, steps can be taken to rebalance rights and obligations under such contracts?
      Important to understand how your rights and obligations under contracts will be affected by a Brexit. Consider contractual wording (e.g. applicability of force majeure clauses) to reduce risks.
    • Does your business receive any grants or subsidies from the UK government and/or from the EU?
      UK funding would no longer be restricted by State Aid rules and the UK government would be able to provide subsidies to UK companies without having to notify the European Commission.
    • EU funding may be withdrawn for UK companies post-Brexit.

Should you want to talk through the issues in more detail and discuss the possible implications for your business then we can help. We could work through the specific nature of any impact, and analyse which options would produce advantages and disadvantages in your specific situation. We can also assist you in making arguments to HMG as to which options should be pursued. Please contact Ross Denton or Sunny Mann of our London office to discuss this further.

Finally, we will be hosting a webinar on 18 May 2016 which will look at the possible implications of a Brexit vote. If you would like further details on this, please contact kate.bullard bakermckenzie.com.

China – New policy on cross-border e-commerce

On March 24, 2016, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) State Administration of Taxation and the General Administration of Customs issued Caiguanshui No. [2016] 18, Notice of cross-border e-commerce retail import tax policy. The new policy was approved by the State Council to facilitate cross border e-commerce retail sales. It took effect on April 8, 2016 and sets a temporary zero customs tariff and a VAT and consumption tax at 70% of the normal VAT and consumption tax on individual retail transactions of listed goods up to RMB 2,000 per transaction, and annual individual transaction limits of RMB 20,000. Taxes and duties will be based on the transaction value (purchase price). Sales exceeding these amounts will be subject to normal taxes and duties. If goods are returned to the seller within 30 days, the purchaser may apply for a refund of the taxes paid and request readjustment of the annual limit.

Prior to the announcement, individual non-commercial imports were subject to the personal postal articles tax which combined the customs tariff, import VAT and consumption tax. The Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council has also adjusted the personal postal articles tax policy by changing the four rates of 10%, 20%, 30% and 50% into three, namely 15%, 30% and 60%. The 15% tax rate applies to MFN items with zero tariff, while the 60% tax rate applies to luxury goods. The rest are subject to the 30% tax rate.

Australia – DEC now accepts DSP-83 - Non Transfer and Use Certificates in an electronic format

Defence Export Controls (DEC) signs DSP-83 Non Transfer and Use Certificates on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia. The DSP-83 certificate provides a non-transfer and end-use assurance for defence goods and technology exported from the U.S. to Australia.

With immediate effect, DEC announced that it will accept scanned PDF copies of DSP-83 forms, with the relevant parts completed. These forms can be submitted electronically to DEC. DEC will sign the form, and return a scanned copy to you via email, generally within 1 - 2 business days.

DEC has previously only accepted original DSP-83 forms in hardcopy based on U.S. Government requirements, with certificates posted or hand delivered to DEC before they could be finalised and returned to the U.S. The U.S. Government is now accepting scanned copies of fully executed DSP-83 forms submitted by U.S. applicants.

Australia – Guidance on new export control requirements from the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 is available

Defence Export Controls (DEC) announced that new export controls for supplying and publishing Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) technology and for brokering DSGL goods and technologies have undergone an implementation period and came into force on 2 April 2016. Individuals and organisations can apply for permits now for the new controls.

Guidance information, to help individuals and organisations learn about the new export controls, is available on:

Question and answer scenarios on how the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 impact publications, conferences, educational instruction, research, correspondence and informal scientific exchanges, editing and peer review, commercial consulting, foreign nationals, patented information, sanctions, travelling and working overseas and records management is available on the 'Export Controls Training' page under the 'scenarios' tab.

Defence is working with stakeholders as they establish internal compliance arrangements by providing implementation support through outreach and engagement sessions.

EEA Joint Committee adopts EU acts including decisions on prevention of illicit trade in chemicals and application of aviation security standards

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) announced that the EFTA Standing Committee and the EEA Joint Committee met in Brussels on 17 and 18 March 2016 respectively. At the Joint Committee, the EU side gave an update on the EU-US negotiations on TTIP.

In the Joint Committee meeting, 25 decisions were adopted incorporating 39 EU legal acts into the EEA Agreement. Among the acts incorporated was a regulation aiming to further prevent illicit trade in certain chemicals that could be used in the illegal manufacture of controlled substances, and to strengthen existing rules regarding drug precursors, and a regulation concerning statistics on healthcare expenditure and financing.

Also incorporated were acts regarding aviation security, including a regulation on third countries recognised as applying security standards equivalent to the common basic standards on civil aviation.

The EEA Joint Committee meeting, which was chaired by Mr Claude Maerten, Head of Division at the European External Action Service, included a briefing from the European Commission on the latest developments in the negotiations between the EU and the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and updates from the European Commission and the Icelandic delegation on capital control measures in Greece and Iceland respectively.

So far this year 65 Joint Committee Decisions have been adopted by the EEA Joint Committee and 116 legal acts have been incorporated into the EEA Agreement.

EU – Commission announces new round of requests for the suspension of the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on certain industrial and agricultural products

On 9 April 2016, the Commission published in the Official Journal a Notice to economic operators — New round of requests for the suspension of the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on certain industrial and agricultural products, that informs Economic operators that the Commission has received requests in accordance with the administrative arrangements foreseen in the Commission Communication concerning autonomous tariff suspensions and quotas (2011/C-363/02) for the January round of 2017.

The list of the products for which a duty suspension is requested is now available on the Commission’s thematic (Europa) website on the customs union. Economic operators are also informed that the deadline for objections against new requests to reach the Commission, via the national administrations, is 17 June 2016 which is the date of the second scheduled meeting of the Economic Tariff Questions Group.

Interested operators are advised to consult the list regularly in order to be informed on the status as the requests. More information on the autonomous tariff suspension procedure can be found on the Europa website.

India permits 100% foreign investment in e-commerce marketplaces

In Press Note No. 3 released on March 29, 2016, the Government of India (“GOI”) announced that 100% foreign direct investment (“FDI”) is now permitted in e-commerce “marketplaces” in India, subject to certain stringent caveats.

India’s e-commerce sector is poised for dramatic growth over the next few years (largely driven by exploding Internet and smartphone penetration in India, among other market catalysts such as evolving e-payment systems) and continues to attract significant FDI inflows from global e-commerce companies and private equity firms worldwide. However, prior to the new FDI rules, there was lack of clarity under India’s existing Consolidated FDI Policy Circular 2015 (“FDI Policy”) regarding the permitted FDI in this sector. While the FDI Policy permits up to 100% FDI in India’s business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce but not in India’s business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce, certain aspects of the FDI Policy created ambiguity and uncertainty for foreign investors as well as India’s emerging e-commerce players. The new FDI rules bring much-needed clarity regarding the contours of the FDI Policy vis-à-vis India’s e-commerce sector.

In recent years, a number of India’s emerging e-commerce companies have leveraged “hybrid” operating models (a mix of marketplace and inventory) to grow and scale operations and attract foreign investment. With the new FDI rules in place, one can expect to see restructuring of these existing e-commerce models to be compliant with the FDI norms and avoid triggering hefty penalties under India’s foreign investment laws.

The new rules undoubtedly present significant opportunities for US e-commerce companies and private equity firms looking to tap India’s thriving e-commerce sector, but challenges still exist. For US investors keen to enter or expand in India’s e-commerce sector, it is vital to fully assess the impact of the new rules and Indian’s changing regulatory framework on their current and planned investments and operating models in India and devise their India entry strategy to fit the changing operating environment so as to avoid pitfalls and be well-positioned to capitalize on emerging opportunities in India’s rapidly growing e-commerce sector.

For a full discussion of the new rules, including restrictions and conditions, please see our Client Alert on this subject which was prepared by Sonia Baldia, a Partner in the Washington, DC office.

US – COAC meeting announced

On April 11, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a document announcing a meeting of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) in Washington, DC on April 27, 2016. The meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EDT, but may close early if the committee has completed its business. Meeting participants must pre-register using one of the methods set out in the announcement. To facilitate public participation, CBP invites public comment on the issues to be considered by the committee prior to the formulation of recommendations as listed in the ‘‘Agenda’’ section below.

1. The Trade Enforcement and Revenue Collection (TERC) Subcommittee will discuss the progress made on prior TERC recommendations, the Intellectual Property Rights Working Group, Bond Working Group and recommendations from the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Working Group.

2. The Trusted Trader Subcommittee will discuss their vision for an enhanced Trusted Trader concept that includes engagement with CBP to include relevant partner government agencies with a potential for international interoperability.

3. The Trade Modernization Subcommittee will discuss the progress of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise Uniformity (“Centers”) Working Group. The subcommittee will provide an update on areas they have identified for Centers to develop uniform policies, processes and strategies, with consideration of an industry-focused and account-based approach. The subcommittee will also discuss the progress of the International Engagement and Trade Facilitation Working Group which is identifying examples of best practices in the U.S. and abroad that facilitate trade and could be applied globally. Additionally, the subcommittee will also discuss the formation of a Role of the Broker Working Group to provide updated recommendations for revising 19 C.F.R. 111.

4. The One U.S. Government Subcommittee will discuss progress of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Single Window efforts and the previous COAC recommendations related to this matter. CBP will respond to the working group’s previous recommendations and suggestions. There will also be an update from the North American Single Window Working Group on developments of the North American Single Window Vision statement.

5. The Exports Subcommittee will discuss the progress of the Air, Ocean, and Rail Manifest Pilots, and the beginning of work planned for the Truck Manifest sub-workgroup, which will be coordinating with the 1 USG North American Single Window (NASW) work group to ensure that the groups are not duplicating work. The Post Departure Filing (PDF) workgroup will be discussing the results of its planned Table Top exercise.

6. The Global Supply Chain Subcommittee will review and discuss recommendations related to the Pipeline Working Group and also provide an update on pilot discussions with industry. In addition, the subcommittee will report on the startup of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C–TPAT) Working Group that will be reviewing and developing recommendations to update the C–TPAT minimum security criteria. Meeting materials will be available by April 22 2016, at the COAC website.

US – ITC initiates investigation on Aluminum: Competitive Conditions Affecting the U.S. Industry

On April 12, 2016, the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) published in the Federal Register a notice of an investigation and the scheduling of a public hearing [Investigation No. 332-557] entitled, Aluminum: Competitive Conditions Affecting the U.S. Industry, following receipt of a request from the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means. The investigation will cover unwrought (e.g., primary and secondary) and wrought (e.g., semifinished) aluminum products. The Commission’s report will provide, to the extent that information is available:

    • An overview of the aluminum industry in the United States and other major global producing and exporting countries, including production, production capacity, capacity utilization, employment, wages, inventories, supply chains, domestic demand, and exports;
    • Information on recent trade trends and developments in the global market for aluminum, including U.S. and other major foreign producer imports and exports, and trade flows through third countries for further processing and subsequent exports;
    • A comparison of the competitive strengths and weaknesses of aluminum production and exports in the United States and other major producing and exporting countries, including such factors as producer revenue and production costs, industry structure, input prices and availability, energy costs and sources, production technology, product innovation, exchange rates, and pricing, as well as government policies and programs that directly or indirectly affect aluminum production and exporting in these countries;
    • In countries where unwrought aluminum capacity has significantly increased, identify factors driving those capacity and related production changes; and
    • A qualitative and, to the extent possible, quantitative assessment of the impact of government policies and programs in major foreign aluminum producing and exporting countries on their aluminum production, exports, consumption, and domestic prices, as well as on the U.S. aluminum industry and on aluminum markets worldwide.

As requested, the report will focus primarily on the 2011-2015 time period, but examine longer term trends since 2001 when appropriate. Information on the scheduling of the hearing and deadlines for submissions can be found in the Federal Register notice.

WCO – 57th Session of the Harmonized System Committee concludes

On 1 April 2016, the WCO announced that the WCO Harmonized System Committee (HSC) held its 57th Session from 9 to 18 March 2016 at the WCO headquarters in Brussels. More than 120 participants representing 61 Contracting Parties to the HS Convention, one WCO Member administration and five international organizations attended.

The HSC took 326 classification decisions (including 305 decisions relating to pharmaceutical (INN) products in connection with the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade in Pharmaceutical Products), adopted 15 sets of amendments to the Explanatory Notes and approved 16 new Classification Opinions. When deemed approved by the WCO Council at the end of May 2016, these classification decisions (except for those in respect of which requests for re-examination will be entered) and amendments to the Explanatory Notes and Compendium of Classification Opinions will be made available on the WCO website.

In support to the WCO Programme Global Shield (PGS), the HSC approved a draft WCO Council Recommendation on the insertion in national statistical nomenclatures of a number of subheadings to facilitate the monitoring of the international movement of goods required for the production and use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The HSC also approved a new draft WCO Council Recommendation with regard to the use of standard units of quantity to facilitate the collection, comparison and analysis of international statistics, taking into account the amendments to the Nomenclature which have been accepted as a result of the Council Recommendations of 27 June 2014 and 11 June 2015. The WCO recommends that its Member Customs administrations as well as Contracting Parties to the HS Convention report their import and export trade statistics to the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSD). Both draft Recommendations will be submitted to the WCO Council for adoption at its 127th/128th Sessions in July 2016.

In the framework of the HS Nomenclature 2017 Edition that will enter into force on 1 January 2017, the Committee adopted the consolidated version of the amendments to the Explanatory Notes consequential upon the acceptance of the amendments and complementary amendments to the Nomenclature consequential to the Article 16 Council Recommendations of 27 June 2014 and 11 June 2015. Similarly, the HSC adopted the amendments to the Compendium of Classification Opinions consequential upon the acceptance of these HS amendments. The HSC also approved the 2017 version of the Interconnection Table, that is, the table which contains the correlations between the Harmonized System 2017 Edition and the product coverage of a number of selected international Conventions.

In addition, the HSC examined a series of general questions, including the status and challenges in relation to implementation of the HS Nomenclature 2017 Edition. Furthermore, the HSC endorsed the Technical Guidance for the first layer for the Achieving Excellence in Customs Performance measurement framework with respect to the Harmonized System Convention and Advance tariff rulings.

EFTA - EEA Joint Committee adopts EU acts including decisions on prevention of illicit trade in chemicals and application of aviation security standards

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) announced that the EFTA Standing Committee and the EEA Joint Committee met in Brussels on 17 and 18 March 2016 respectively. At the Joint Committee, the EU side gave an update on the EU-US negotiations on TTIP.

In the Joint Committee meeting, 25 decisions were adopted incorporating 39 EU legal acts into the EEA Agreement. Among the acts incorporated was a regulation aiming to further prevent illicit trade in certain chemicals that could be used in the illegal manufacture of controlled substances, and to strengthen existing rules regarding drug precursors, and a regulation concerning statistics on healthcare expenditure and financing.

Also incorporated were acts regarding aviation security, including a regulation on third countries recognised as applying security standards equivalent to the common basic standards on civil aviation.

The EEA Joint Committee meeting, which was chaired by Mr Claude Maerten, Head of Division at the European External Action Service, included a briefing from the European Commission on the latest developments in the negotiations between the EU and the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and updates from the European Commission and the Icelandic delegation on capital control measures in Greece and Iceland respectively.

So far this year 65 Joint Committee Decisions have been adopted by the EEA Joint Committee and 116 legal acts have been incorporated into the EEA Agreement.

Treasury publishes current list of boycott countries
On April 8, 2016, the Department of the Treasury published in the Federal Register a current list of countries which require or may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott (within the meaning of section 999(b)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986). On the basis of the best information currently available to the Department of the Treasury, the following countries require or may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott: Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
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Chair, NA International
Commercial Practice Group

Miguel Noyola
Partner, Chicago
Email: Miguel Noyola
T + 1 312 861 7589


Members, US International
Trade Compliance Steering Committee


Janet K. Kim
Partner, Washington DC
Email: Janet Kim
T + 1 202 835 1653

John F. McKenzie
Partner, San Francisco
Email: John McKenzie
T + 1 415 576 3033

Ted Murphy
Partner, Washington DC
Email: Ted Murphy
T + 1 202 452 7069


Editor, International Trade
Compliance Update


Stuart P. Seidel
Partner, Washington DC
Email: Stuart Seidel
T + 1 202 452 7088