US - CBP will test the collection of biometric information at up to ten U.S. airports

On July 28, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice advising the public that it intends to conduct a test to collect biometric and biographic information from certain aliens who are departing the United States on selected flights from up to ten identified U.S. airports. The notice describes the test, to be known as Biometric Exit Mobile (“BE-Mobile”) Air Test, its purpose, how it will be implemented, the individuals covered, the duration of the test, where the test will take place, and the privacy considerations. This test will not apply to U.S. citizens.

The test will begin no earlier than July 6, 2015, and will run for approximately one year. The test will be rolled out over this one-year period at up to ten of the following airports: Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California; San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California; Miami International Airport, Miami, Florida; Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois; Newark Liberty International Airport, Newark, New Jersey; John F. Kennedy International Airport, Jamaica, New York; Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, Texas; George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas; and Washington Dulles International Airport, Sterling, Virginia.

US - CBP publishes instructions for obtaining retroactive GSP treatment

On July 28, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a document providing notice to importers that CBP will again accept claims for Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) duty-free treatment for merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption and that CBP will process refunds on duties paid, without interest, on GSP-eligible merchandise that was entered during the period that the GSP program was lapsed.

The GSP is a renewable preferential trade program that allows the eligible products of designated beneficiary developing countries to directly enter the United States free of duty. The GSP program expired on July 31, 2013, but has been renewed through December 31, 2017, effective July 29, 2015, with retroactive effect between August 1, 2013 to July 28, 2015, by a provision in the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.

Formal and informal entries that were filed electronically via the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) using Special Program Indicator (SPI) Code “A” as a prefix to the tariff number will be automatically processed by CBP and no further action by the filer is required to initiate the refund process. Non-ABI filers, and ABI filers that did not include SPI Code “A” on the entry, must timely submit a duty refund request to CBP. CBP will continue conducting verifications to ensure that GSP benefits are available to eligible entries only.

Effective July 29, 2015, the filing of GSP-eligible entry summaries may be resumed without the payment of estimated duties, and CBP will initiate the automatic liquidation or reliquidation of formal and informal entries of GSP-eligible merchandise that was entered on or after August 1, 2013 through July 28, 2015 and filed via ABI with SPI Code “A” notated on the entry. Requests for refunds of GSP duties paid on eligible non-ABI entries, or eligible ABI entries filed without SPI Code “A,” must be filed with CBP no later than December 28, 2015.

Instructions for submitting a request to CBP to liquidate or reliquidate entries of GSP-eligible merchandise that was entered on or after August 1, 2013 through July 28, 2015 are located at the CBP page on GSP. Additional information is available at CBP's page on GSP renewal. CBP has also posted FAQs on the 2015 GSP reauthorization, as well as information on the GSP refund process.

US - BIS revises Entity List

On July 28, 2015, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. 150427401–5401–01] that amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by adding ten persons to the Entity List. The ten persons who are added to the Entity List have been determined by the U.S. Government to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. These ten persons will be listed on the Entity List under the destinations of China and South Korea.

This final rule also removes four persons from the Entity List, as the result of requests for removal submitted by these persons, a review of information provided in the removal requests in accordance with the procedure for requesting removal or modification of an Entity List entity, and further review conducted by the End-User Review Committee (ERC).

The Entity List (Supplement No. 4 to Part 744) notifies the public about entities that have engaged in activities that could result in an increased risk of the diversion of exported, reexported or transferred (in-country) items to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs. Since its initial publication, grounds for inclusion on the Entity List have expanded to include activities sanctioned by the State Department and activities contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.

Certain exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) to entities identified on the Entity List require licenses from BIS and are usually subject to a policy of denial. The availability of license exceptions in such transactions is very limited. The license review policy for each entity is identified in the license review policy column on the Entity List and the availability of license exceptions is noted in the Federal Register notices adding persons to the Entity List. BIS places entities on the Entity List based on certain sections of part 744 (Control Policy: End-User and End-Use Based) and part 746 (Embargoes and Other Special Controls) of the EAR.

The ERC, composed of representatives of the Departments of Commerce (Chair), State, Defense, Energy and, where appropriate, the Treasury, makes all decisions regarding additions to, removals from, or other modifications to the Entity List. The ERC makes all decisions to add an entry to the Entity List by majority vote and all decisions to remove or modify an entry by unanimous vote.

EU - Commission adopts modernised EU customs procedures

On 28 July 2015, the European Commission issued a news release announcing that it has adopted a legal act to create a simpler, more modern and integrated EU customs system to support cross-border trade and provide for more EU-wide cooperation in customs matters. It builds on the Union Customs Code adopted in 2013, which sets out detailed rules for twenty-first century customs processes. The news release states:

Customs services play a central role in policing the EU’s external borders and in facilitating trade. The customs union is the operational arm of much of the EU's commercial policy measures. In addition, a growing range of government agencies call on customs to enforce their policies at the border. EU customs handle 16% of world trade, or over two billion tonnes of goods a year with a value of EUR 3,400 billion.

Pierre Moscovici, EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, said: “A modern and cost-effective customs system facilitates international trade and is conducive to growth. It also plays a vital role in defending the safety and security of European citizens and in protecting Member States' interests.”

The Commission has been working for several years on a major overhaul of customs rules in the EU. The basic regulations were changed in 2013. Detailed acts must subsequently be adopted so that the new rules can be applied as of 1 May 2016.

Today's decision takes the form of a delegated act. This kind of legal act, introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon in 2010, gives the Commission power to adopt the technical, non-essential elements of an existing legislation, in this case of the Union Customs Code.

The act adopted today covers a wide area of customs activity, including:

  • Simplifications of the customs procedure inward processing which allows the processing of non-Union goods without payment of import duty and other charges to support creation of added value in the EU;
  • Clearer rules to ensure equal treatment of economic operators in the EU;
  • Wide-ranging provisions which will allow customs decisions and authorisations to be valid across the EU in the future;
  • Establishing common data requirements as the basis for new IT systems linking Member States' customs administrations to ensure a seamless exchange of information;
  • Improvements in risk management to reinforce the fight against trade in illicit and prohibited goods, terrorism and other criminal activities.

The delegated act will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council. In accordance with Article 290 TFEU, both can raise their objections within two months. This period of scrutiny can be extended by a further two months.

General Council approves Kazakhstan’s membership terms, only ratification left

The WTO announced that WTO members formally adopted Kazakhstan’s WTO terms of entry at the General Council meeting on 27 July 2015, in the presence of Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Kazakhstan will have until 31 October 2015 to ratify the deal to formally become a WTO member 30 days after it notifies the ratification to the WTO Director-General.

The negotiations on Kazakhstan’s membership, which started over 19 years ago, were finalised by the Working Party on 10 June. The 52 Working Party members adopted by consensus, ad referendum, Kazakhstan’s WTO accession package on 22 June.


An overview of Kazakhstan’s commitments is here.

US - CBP extends ACAS Pilot Program and reopens application period

On July 27, 2015, CBP published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing that CBP is extending the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot period for an additional year and reopening the application period for new participants for 90 days. ACAS is a voluntary test in which participants submit a subset of required advance air cargo data to CBP at the earliest point practicable prior to loading of the cargo onto the aircraft destined to or transiting through the United States.

On October 24, 2012, CBP published a notice in the Federal Register that announced the formalization and expansion of the ACAS pilot program that would run for six months. CBP subsequently published several notices extending the pilot period and/or reopening the application period to new participants for limited periods. The most recent notice extended the pilot period through July 26, 2015.

CBP is extending the ACAS pilot program through July 26, 2016, and reopening the application period to accept applications for new ACAS pilot participants through October 26, 2015. Comments concerning any aspect of the announced test may be submitted at any time during the test period.

WTO members adopt expanded ITA

On 24 July 2015, the WTO announced that WTO members representing major exporters of information technology products agreed to eliminate tariffs on more than 200 such products in a new, expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA). A tentative accord reached by 54 WTO members on 18 July was confirmed as the basis for implementation work to begin. The WTO said that Ministers from the participating members will now work to conclude their implementation plans in time for the WTO's 10th Ministerial Conference which will be held in Nairobi this December. The annual trade in the products covered by the expanded ITA is valued at over $1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately 7% of total global trade today. The WTO Director-General said that it is larger than global trade in automotive products — or trade in textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined.

All 161 WTO members will benefit from the expanded ITA agreement, as they will all enjoy duty-free market access in the markets of those members who are eliminating tariffs on these products. The terms of the agreement will be formally circulated to the full membership at a meeting of the WTO General Council on 28 July.

Under the terms of the agreement, the majority of tariffs will be eliminated on these products within three years, with reductions beginning in 2016. By the end of October 2015, each of the participating members will submit to the other participants a draft schedule which spells out how the terms of the agreement would be met. Participants will spend the coming months preparing and verifying these schedules. The objective is to conclude this technical work in time for the Nairobi Ministerial Conference in December.

The agreement also contains a commitment to work to tackle non-tariff barriers in the IT sector, and to keep the list of products covered under review to determine whether further expansion may be needed to reflect future technological developments.


The agreement this month is an expansion of the 1996 Information Technology Agreement which involves 81 members. In 2012, members recognized that technological innovation had advanced to such an extent that many new categories of IT products were not covered by the existing agreement. Negotiations began in 2012 to expand the coverage of the accord.

US - ACE and ACS to be modified to accept GSP claims

On July 23, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued CSMS# 15-000471, which (as corrected by CSMS 15-000473) stated:

The GSP program expired on July 31, 2013. recent trade legislation “Trade Preference Extension Act of 2015” renews the GSP trade program through 12/31/2017. the renewal of the GSP trade program is to take effect on July 29, 2015. the trade preference extension act of 2015 allows full retroactive GSP benefits for the GSP expiration period (08/01/2013 - 07/28/2015).

As a result of the extension of the GSP trade program, the ACS system (EI) and the ACE system (AE) will be modified on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 at approximately 7:00 am to allow the trade to obtain the duty free rate for a GSP claim.
For general questions concerning the GSP benefits renewal and retroactive duty refund, contact the Trade Agreements Branch, Office of International Trade at fta dhs.gov.

Questions regarding this message should be directed to your assigned client representative.

US - President delegates functions under recently enacted Trade Act

On July 23, 2015, the Federal Register published Executive Order 13701—Delegation of Certain Authorities and Assignment of Certain Functions Under the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. The Executive Order (EO) delegates and assigns, respectively, to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) the authorities granted to and functions specifically assigned to the President under title I of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (the Act) (Public Law 114–26) except as provided in subsections (b) and (c) of section 1 of the EO, which are not delegated or assigned to USTR. These are outlined below:

The functions of the President under section 102(c)(2) of the Act with respect to establishing consultative mechanisms are assigned to the Secretary of State in consultation with the USTR, with the advice and assistance of the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Secretary of Commerce and, as the Secretary of State determines appropriate, the heads of other executive departments and agencies.


The functions of the President under section 105(d)(1) of the Act relating to environmental reviews are assigned to the USTR, who shall conduct the reviews through the interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC), and shall perform the reporting function under the Act.

The functions of the President under section 105(d)(2)(A) of the Act relating to an employment impact review are assigned to the Secretary of Labor, who, in coordination with the USTR, shall conduct the review under the Act through the interagency TPSC, and shall prepare the report under the Act. The functions of the President under section 105(d)(2)(B) of the Act are assigned to the USTR, who shall perform the reporting function under that section.

The functions of the President under section 105(d)(3) of the Act relating to labor rights are assigned to the Secretary of Labor, who, in consultation with the USTR and the Secretary of State, shall prepare the report on labor rights, and to the USTR, who shall perform the reporting function under section 105(d)(3) of the Act.

The functions of the President under section 105(e)(2)(A) through (C) and (E) of the Act with respect to preparing plans for implementing and enforcing agreements submitted to the Congress are assigned to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who shall carry out these functions with the advice and assistance of the Secretaries of State, the Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce, and Homeland Security and the USTR and other executive departments and agencies as necessary.

The USTR, with the advice and assistance of executive departments and agencies participating in capacity building activities undertaken in accordance with section 102(c)(1) and (2) of the Act, shall perform the reporting function under section 102(c)(4) of the Act.

US - Continuation of national emergency with respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations
On July 22, 2015, the Federal Register published Presidential Notice of July 21, 2015—Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations, which continues for an additional year the national emergency first established in Executive Order (EO) 13581 of July 24, 2011 because the activities of significant transnational criminal organizations had reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems. The national emergency is being continued because the activities of significant transnational criminal organizations continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.
Canada – Canada, Israel conclude negotiations on enhanced FTA

On July 21, 2015, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Israel’s Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the negotiations toward an expanded and modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) have concluded. The ministers were joined by business leaders and members of the Canadian Jewish community at the DMZ at Ryerson University in Toronto to celebrate the occasion.


The modernized CIFTA adds seven new chapters and improves four existing chapters to bring this agreement up to 21st century standards. CIFTA notably provides expanded market access opportunities for agricultural, fish and seafood products through the elimination or reduction of Israeli tariffs on a large number of Canadian products and duty-free access under tariff rate quotas for certain products.


The four existing areas of the current CIFTA that have been modernized are market access for goods, rules of origin, institutional provisions, and dispute settlement. The seven new chapters that have been included are in the areas of trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, electronic commerce, labour, and environment.

UK - HMRC establishes new procedures for obtaining Tariff Classification advice

On 20 July 2015, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) issued Customs Information Paper 27 (2015) (CIP 27), which announced that from 1 September 2015 the Tariff Classification telephone helpline will close. From that date all requests for classification advice must be made by email. The email request for advice must include the information shown on the template in the annex to CIP 27. Each email request is for one product only. Requests for classification advice should be emailed to: classification.enquiries hmrc.gsi.gov.uk. A classification officer will email a response back to the requesting party providing classification advice based on the information that has been supplied. HMRC aim to respond to email enquiries within one working day of receipt.

Alternatively, traders can use the on-line UK Trade Tariff available from the GOV.UK website to search for and classify their own goods.
In addition HMRC will continue to operate its Binding Tariff Information Service which provides traders with a legally binding written classification decision.

US – CBP issues final determinations in procurement cases

On July 22, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register the following determination concerning the country of origin of merchandise for purposes of US Government procurement under the Trade Agreements Act. A copy of the final determination may be reviewed by clicking on the ruling number. Any party at-interest other than the party which requested the final determination may request, pursuant to 19 C.F.R. 177.31, that CBP reexamine the matter anew and issue a new final determination. Any party-at-interest may seek judicial review of the final determination within 30 days of the date of publication in the Federal Register.

F.R. Date

Ruling Reference (Date Issued) and Product

Country of Origin

07-22-15

HQ H259758 (July 16, 2015) VistA imaging tier II storage infrastructure solution mfd. By Merlin

United States

US – Commerce publishes quarterly update to annual listing of foreign government subsidies on cheese subject to in-quota duty rate

On July 22, 2015, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce (Commerce) published in the Federal Register a notice providing the quarterly update to annual listing of foreign government subsidies on articles of cheese subject to an in-quota rate of duty as required by Section 702 of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, as amended (the Act). The table below lists the country, the subsidy program or programs, and the gross and net amounts of each subsidy for which information is currently available. Commerce encourages any person having information on foreign government subsidy programs which benefit articles of cheese subject to an in-quota rate of duty to submit such information in writing to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce.

SUBSIDY PROGRAMS ON CHEESE SUBJECT TO AN IN-QUOTA RATE OF DUTY

Country

Program(s)

Gross Subsidy ($/lb)

Net Subsidy

($/lb)

28 European Union

Member States

European Union

Restitution Payments

$ 0.00

$0.00

Canada

Export Assistance on

Certain Types of Cheese

$ 0.42

$ 0.42

Norway

Indirect (Milk) Subsidy

Consumer Subsidy

Total

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

Switzerland

Deficiency Payments

$ 0.00

$ 0.00

US – BIS publishes EAR amendments to implement removal of Cuba as State Sponsor of Terrorism
On July 22, 2015, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. 150416374-5374-01] that amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement the rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Specifically, this rule removes anti-terrorism (AT) license requirements from Cuba and eliminates references to Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but maintains preexisting license requirements for all items subject to the EAR unless authorized by a license exception. This rule also removes Cuba from Country Group E:1 (terrorist supporting countries), which makes Cuba eligible for a general 25 percent de minimis level and portions of four license exceptions. The Secretary of State rescinded the designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism on May 29, 2015.
US – CBP announces quarterly IRS interest rates
On July 21, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice advising the public of the quarterly Internal Revenue Service interest rates used to calculate interest on overdue accounts (underpayments) and refunds (overpayments) of customs duties. For the calendar quarter beginning July 1, 2015, the interest rates for overpayments will be 2 percent for corporations and 3 percent for non-corporations, and the interest rate for underpayments will be 3 percent for both corporations and non-corporations. This notice is published for the convenience of the importing public and U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel.
US – USTR to conduct AGOA out-of-cycle review of South Africa
On July 21, 2015, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing the initiation of an out-of-cycle review of the eligibility of the Republic of South Africa to receive the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), as required by the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (TPEA). The AGOA Implementation Subcommittee (Subcommittee) of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) is requesting written public comments for this out-of-cycle review and will conduct a public hearing on this matter. The Subcommittee will consider the written comments, written testimony, and oral testimony in developing recommendations for the President on South Africa’s AGOA eligibility. The notice identifies the eligibility criteria under AGOA that will be considered in the review.
August 5, 2015 is the deadline for filing requests to appear at the August 7 public hearing, and for filing pre-hearing briefs, statements, or comments on the Republic of South Africa’s AGOA eligibility. On August 7, 2015, the AGOA Implementation Subcommittee of the TPSC will convene a public hearing on the Republic of South Africa’s AGOA eligibility. August 12, 2015 is the deadline for filing post-hearing briefs, statements, or comments on the Republic of South Africa’s AGOA eligibility.
US – Continuation of national emergency with respect to the former Liberian regime of Charles Taylor

On July 21, 2015, the Federal Register published Presidential Notice of July 17, 2015—Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to the Former Liberian Regime of Charles Taylor which continues the national emergency first established in Executive Order (EO) 13348 of July 22, 2004 for an additional year. EO 13348 declared a national emergency with respect to the former Liberian regime of Charles Taylor to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of former Liberian President Charles Taylor and other persons, in particular their unlawful depletion of Liberian resources and their removal from Liberia and secreting of Liberian funds and property, which have undermined Liberia’s transition to democracy and the orderly development of its political, administrative, and economic institutions and resources.

Although Liberia has made significant advances to promote democracy, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone convicted Charles Taylor for war crimes and crimes against humanity, the actions and policies of Charles Taylor and others have left a legacy of destruction that still challenge Liberia’s transformation and recovery. The actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States, so the national emergency is being extended for 1 year.

Canada - PM announces conclusion of FTA with Ukraine

On July 14, 2015, Prime Minister Harper announced that Canada and Ukraine have successfully concluded negotiations toward the Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA) which will boost commercial ties between the two countries. Canada and Ukraine launched free trade negotiations in 2010. Six rounds of negotiations were held between 2010 and 2015. Negotiations concluded in Kyiv, Ukraine, on July 9, 2015. The announcement said that:

The CUFTA will provide improved market access for Canadian exports to the Ukrainian market, help address non-tariff barriers and facilitate closer economic relations. In addition, the CUFTA will provide Ukrainian exports with improved access to the Canadian market, which is consistent with the Government’s unwavering commitment to support Ukraine’s democratic transition and economic reforms.

Once the Agreement enters into force, Canada and Ukraine will immediately eliminate duties on 99.9 per cent and 86 per cent of respective current imports, thereby benefiting both Canadian and Ukrainian exporters and consumers. The Agreement will result in the elimination of all Ukrainian tariffs on industrial goods, forestry and wood products, fish and seafood products, as well as the elimination of the vast majority of Ukraine’s agricultural tariffs. Canadian agriculture exporters will benefit from duty-free access for beef, pulses, grains, canola oil, processed foods and animal feed. Canadian pork producers will benefit from improved access to Ukraine’s market via a large tariff rate quota.

Prime Minister Harper highlighted the inclusion of Ukraine as a priority emerging market under Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan and as one of Canada’s development countries of focus. He also publicly released Canada’s market access plan for Ukraine – another tool the Government of Canada is providing to help Canadian companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, identify new opportunities to do business in Ukraine.

The announcement also said that “The Agreement is informed by public consultations, and reflects the views and priorities of Canadian businesses, industry associations, provinces and territories, and other stakeholders.” Since 2006, the Government of Canada has concluded free trade agreements with 39 countries, bringing the total to 44.

EU and Liberia sign deal on WTO accession

On 16 July 2015, the European Commission announced that the EU and Liberia had signed a deal concluding their bilateral negotiations on Liberia’s accession to the WTO. The announcement said that accession to the WTO is expected to make a lasting contribution to the process of economic reform and sustainable development in Liberia. The announcement said that:

The bilateral deal – signed by EU Ambassador to the WTO Angelos Pangratis and Liberia's Minister for Commerce and Industry Axel M. Addy – defines the level of market access that Liberia will grant to EU goods and services in the WTO. These commitments will be then embodied in the future Protocol of Accession of Liberia to the WTO.

The Republic of Liberia applied for WTO membership in mid-2007. The accession talks started half a year later with the establishment of a dedicated Working Party made of interested WTO members. In order to join the WTO, Liberia must complete bilateral negotiations with each of them and obtain the endorsement of the entire Working Party.
***
As a Least Developed Country, all Liberia's products (except arms) enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. Trade between the EU and Liberia will be soon also governed by the Economic Partnership Agreement that the EU has initialed with 16 West African states last year.

WTO - Update on ITA expansion

On 18 July 2015, the WTO reported that negotiators from 54 WTO members edged close to agreement on an accord which would expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and eliminate tariffs on an additional list of roughly 200 products valued at about $1 trillion in annual trade. The products covered by the extension include new generation semi-conductors, GPS navigation equipment and medical equipment, including magnetic resonance imaging products and ultra-sonic scanning apparatus. The WTO release said:

The list of products and the draft declaration which spells out how the Agreement would be implemented have been sent to capitals for review. Members have until Friday at noon Geneva time to give final approval.

“This is a big deal,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. “The trade covered in this agreement is comparable to annual global trade in iron, steel, textiles and clothing combined. By taking this step, WTO members will help to provide a jump-start to the global economy and underline the WTO's role as the central global forum for trade negotiations.”

While not all WTO members participated in these negotiations, all will benefit from the outcome because the participants will scrap duties on imports of these products regardless of which WTO member has produced them. Applying duties in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner across the WTO membership is known as the most favoured nation principle.

When the product list and draft declaration are approved, WTO negotiators will spend several months hammering out the technical details and the timetable for tariff elimination. The objective would be for all elements to be completed in time for Ministers of those members who are involved in this initiative to sign the ITA expansion agreement at the 10th Ministerial Conference in Nairobi in December. It would be the first tariff-cutting agreement in the WTO for 18 years.

The Information Technology Agreement was finalized in 1997 and covers 80 WTO members. Efforts to expand the coverage of this agreement were launched in 2012.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative USTR) issued a news release that said the “breakthrough opens the door for the swift conclusion of the first major tariff-cutting deal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 18 years.” According to USTR:

Negotiators began the latest round of negotiations on July 14th, ultimately producing a Declaration text and a final product list which were circulated today to all participants for final review and confirmation in capitals. In November 2014, an earlier bilateral breakthrough between President Obama and President Xi had paved the way to the result today.

Since the ITA went into force in 1997, global trade covered by the ITA has more than tripled, rising to more than $4 trillion in annual trade. Despite extensive advances in technology, however, the product scope of the agreement has never been expanded. More than 200 tariff lines will be reduced to zero under an expanded ITA. Medical equipment, GPS devices, video game consoles, computer software and next generation semiconductors are among the high-tech products that will see tariff elimination.

A sample of some of the impacted products and the size of the tariff reduction they would benefit from, include:

• Next generation semiconductors – Tariffs up to 25 percent reduced to zero.
• Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines – Tariffs up to 8 percent reduced to zero.
• Computed Tomography (CT) scanners – Tariffs up to 8 percent reduced to zero.
• Global Positioning System (GPS) devices – Tariffs up to 8 percent reduced to zero.
• Printed matter/cards to download software and games – Tariffs up to 10 percent reduced to zero.
• Printer ink cartridges – Tariffs up to 25 percent reduced to zero.
• Static converters and inductors – Tariffs up to 10 percent reduced to zero.
• Loudspeakers – Tariffs up to 30 percent reduced to zero.
• Software media, such as solid state drives – Tariffs up to 30 percent reduced to zero.
• Video game consoles – Tariffs up to 30 percent reduced to zero.

An expanded ITA would also eliminate import duties on a range of additional technology products including high-tech medical devices, video cameras, and an array of high-tech ICT testing instruments.

EU launches online consultation on EU-Mexico FTA

On 1 July 2015, the European Commission launched an online public consultation on the EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement (FTA). In 2013, the EU and Mexico decided jointly “to explore the options for a comprehensive update of the Economic Partnership, Political Co-ordination and Co-operation Agreement between the EU and Mexico”. [see paragraph 22 of the 2013 EU-CELAC Summit Declaration held in Santiago de Chile]. The consultation aims to ensure that all relevant stakeholders have an opportunity to comment on all the aspects of the Impact Assessment that will accompany the Commission’s recommendation to launch the negotiations for updating the FTA.

The EU is Mexico's second biggest export market after the USA, and Mexico's third largest source of imports after the USA and China. The consultation will close on 31 August 2015.

EU launches public consultation on dual-use export policy review

On 15 July 2015, the European Commission launched an online public consultation on their review of the EU export control regime for dual-use items (Regulation (EC) No 428/2009).

The Commission is looking to receive comments from all stakeholders on the objectives and review options that are outlined in their Communication (2014) 244 and their likely impact on the EU’s export control policy.

The Commission will use the results to help identify the most suitable regulatory and non-regulatory actions to put these options into effect and to decide on whether amendments should be proposed to Regulation (EC) No 428/2009.

The deadline for responses is 15 October 2015.

RCEP negotiations continue
The eighth round of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement took place in Kyoto, Japan in June. RCEP negotiations involve ten ASEAN countries and six countries with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements (Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and China). It is believed that RCEP would create the world’s largest trading bloc. The RCEP focuses on trade in goods and services, including investments. Additional negotiations took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 13 July. For more information on RCEP, click here.
EU-U.S. hold 10th round of TTIP talks

The 10th round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is being held on 13-17 July. Various sources have indicated that an exchange of market access offers for the services sector was to be a key part of the negotiations. Other topics scheduled for discussion included non-tariff barriers and phytosanitary issues, trade facilitation, dispute settlement and competition.

On 15 July, a stakeholder event was held where presentations were made by EU and US stakeholders - including NGO’s, industry sectors and unions - on regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade (TBT); IP including Geographical Indications and public health; services, investment and public procurement; agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), sustainable development, energy and raw materials;


On 8 July 2015, the European Parliament approved (by 436 votes to 241, with 32 abstentions) its recommendations to European Commission TTIP negotiators – the so-called Lange Report (European Parliament resolution of 8 July 2015 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) (2014/2228(INI)).

The European Commission’s negotiating texts presented to U.S. negotiators and fact-sheets are available on the Commission’s TTIP pages here.

Outline of EU and U.S. sanctions relief for Iran under Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

On 14 July 2015, Iran and the EU/E3+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union) announced that they had agreed on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Agreement) regarding the lifting of sanctions currently imposed against Iran. If fully implemented, the JCPOA will ultimately see the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions targeting Iran, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme, including increasing access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy. In return, Iran will curb its nuclear programme and provide access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for verification purposes. There will also be a 65-day snapback mechanism by which sanctions can be reinstated for non-compliance, subject to a dispute resolution process.


Time Frame

According to unofficial copies of the Agreement published in the media, a UN resolution shall be promptly put forward to the UNSC to endorse the JCPOA. Ninety days after the UNSC adopts a resolution endorsing the JCPOA (or sooner if agreed by mutual consent), the JCPOA shall come into effect (“Adoption Day”). In practical terms, this will mean that the JCPOA participants will begin to make the necessary arrangements to implement their respective commitments under the JCPOA. However, UN, U.S. and EU sanctions will only begin to be relaxed once the IAEA has verified that Iran has implemented its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA (“Implementation Day”). On this basis, sanctions may not be actually lifted or relaxed until early 2016.

The EU has announced that it will prolong until 14 January 2016 the suspension of EU restrictive measures agreed in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) with Iran dated 24 November 2013. The U.S. Government has also announced its intention to extend the JPOA sanctions relief and is likely to adopt an approach similar to the EU. See our prior blog post about the JPOA. All other sanctions targeting Iran will remain in place until the sanctions relief described in the JCPOA is implemented.


EU Sanctions

The EU and EU Member States commit to terminate all provisions of Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 (as amended) Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP (as amended), and to terminate or amend national implementing legislation as required. Implementation Day will see the removal of restrictions on:

  • Certain listed persons, entities and bodies in the Iranian oil and gas, financial, and shipping sectors;
  • Financial, banking and insurance measures;
  • Oil, gas and petrochemical sectors;
  • Shipping, shipbuilding and transport sectors; and
  • Gold, other precious metals, banknotes and coinage.


Specific arms restrictions/missile proliferation sanctions will remain in place for eight years until the JCPOA’s “Transition day” - the earlier of (i) the date eight years after Adoption Day or (ii) the date on which the IAEA reports that it has reached conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities. Human rights related sanctions and those targeting terrorist financing are, however, expected to remain in place.

U.S. Sanctions

The principal impact of U.S. sanctions relief will be on non-U.S. persons not generally subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The U.S. sanctions applicable to U.S. persons, non-U.S. persons acting or causing an act to occur in the United States, and non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. companies will remain in effect, subject to certain favorable licensing policies, as noted below.

More specifically, the Agreement provides for phased relief of certain U.S. sanctions against Iran starting on Implementation Day. U.S. sanctions relief would be provided through suspension and eventual termination of secondary U.S. sanctions against Iran, which target specific activities of non-U.S. persons that are not otherwise subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The JCPOA provides for relief from certain U.S. secondary sanctions in the following areas:

  • Financial and banking measures
  • Insurance measures
  • Iranian energy and petrochemical sectors
  • Iranian shipping, shipbuilding and port sectors
  • Gold and other precious metals
  • Supply to Iran of software and metals
  • Iranian automotive sector
  • Delisting of Iranian parties as Specially Designated Nationals and other sanctions listings
  • Nuclear proliferation measures

The sanctions relief does not apply to U.S. sanctions that have been imposed to address human rights or terrorism issues relating to Iran. It also does not apply to U.S. sanctions imposed under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which continue to prohibit most Iran-related transactions by U.S. persons and non-U.S. entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons. According to the unofficial copy of the JCPOA, however:

  • The U.S. Government has agreed to license non-U.S. entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons to engage in activities consistent with the Agreement. It is not known whether those licenses will be general or specific or whether they will permit some level of U.S. person involvement, e.g., U.S. parent company facilitation of transactions undertaken by their foreign subsidiaries. As a result, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies may be able to engage in the Iran-related transactions described above, pursuant to general licenses issued under the ITSR or specific licenses obtained from OFAC.
  • In addition, the U.S. Government has apparently agreed to: (a) allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran, through licensing of exports and provision of associated services, and (b) license the importation into the United States of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs.

OFAC has not yet implemented any of these authorizations and has announced that it will issue guidance on JCPOA relief prior to Implementation Day.

As noted above, the U.S. Government has announced that it will further extend temporary U.S. sanctions relief under the JPOA in the interim. As part of this U.S. extension, all specific licenses with an expiration date on or before 14 July 2015 that were issued pursuant to OFAC’s Second Amended Statement of Licensing Policy on Activities Related to the Safety of Iran’s Civil Aviation Industry will remain in effect through Implementation Day. Prior to implementation, the JCPOA must also meet the requirements of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which imposes a 60-day congressional review period on the JCPOA during which the President may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit certain sanctions against Iran. The President has announced that he will “veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

Please check our Sanctions blog for any updates. For additional information, please contact any of the attorneys listed here.

US - USTR allocates FY 2016 TRQ for sugar

On July 15, 2015, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice of country-by-country allocations of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016) in-quota quantity of the tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for imported raw cane sugar, certain sugars, syrups and molasses (also known as refined sugar), specialty sugar, and sugar-containing products. Pursuant to Additional U.S. Note 5 to chapter 17 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS), the United States maintains TRQs for imports of raw cane sugar and refined sugar. Pursuant to Additional U.S. Note 8 to chapter 17 of the HTS, the United States maintains a TRQ for imports of sugar-containing products.

On June 15, 2015 (80 Fed. Reg. 34129), the Secretary of Agriculture announced the sugar program provisions for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 and announced an in-quota quantity of the TRQ for raw cane sugar for FY 2016 of 1,117,195 metric tons [1 metric ton = 1.10231125 short tons] raw value (MTRV), which is the minimum amount to which the United States is committed under the WTO Uruguay Round Agreements. USTR is allocating this quantity (1,117,195 MTRV) to the following countries in the amounts specified below:

Country / FY 2016 Raw Cane Sugar allocations (MTRV)

Argentina 45,281
Australia 87,402
Barbados 7,371
Belize 11,584
Bolivia 8,424
Brazil 152,691
Colombia 25,273
Congo 7,258
Costa Rica 15,796
Cote d’Ivoire 7,258
Dominican Republic 185,335
Ecuador 11,584
El Salvador 27,379
Fiji 9,477
Gabon 7,258
Guatemala 50,546
Guyana 12,636
Haiti 7,258
Honduras 10,530
India 8,424

Jamaica 11,584
Madagascar 7,258
Malawi 10,530
Mauritius 12,636
Mexico 7,258
Mozambique 13,690
Nicaragua 22,114
Panama 30,538
Papua New Guinea 7,258
Paraguay 7,258
Peru 43,175
Philippines 142,160
South Africa 24,220
St. Kitts & Nevis 7,258
Swaziland 16,849
Taiwan 12,636
Thailand 14,743
Trinidad & Tobago 7,371
Uruguay 7,258
Zimbabwe 12,636

On June 15, 2015, the Secretary of Agriculture also announced the establishment of the in-quota quantity of the FY 2016 refined sugar TRQ at 132,000 MTRV for which the sucrose content, by weight in the dry state, must have a polarimeter reading of 99.5 degrees or more. This amount includes the minimum level to which the United States is committed under the WTO Uruguay Round Agreements (22,000 MTRV of which 1,656 MTRV is reserved for specialty sugar) and an additional 110,000 MTRV for specialty sugars. USTR is allocating the refined sugar TRQ as follows: 10,300 MTRV of refined sugar to Canada, 2,954 MTRV to Mexico, and 7,090 MTRV to be administered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Imports of all specialty sugar will be administered on a first-come, first-served basis in five tranches. The Secretary of Agriculture has announced that the total in-quota quantity of specialty sugar will be the 1,656 MTRV included in the WTO minimum plus an additional 110,000 MTRV. The first tranche of 1,656 MTRV will open October 9, 2015. All types of specialty sugars are eligible for entry under this tranche. The second tranche of 27,500 MTRV will open on October 23, 2015. The third, fourth, and fifth tranches of 27,500 MTRV each will open on January 8, 2016, April 8, 2016 and July 8, 2016, respectively. The second, third, fourth and fifth tranches will be reserved for organic sugar and other specialty sugars not currently produced commercially in the United States or reasonably available from domestic sources.

UK - Outcome of a review of export licensing for Israel announced

On 14 July 2015, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills issued a news release stating that the government announced the outcome of a review of export licensing for Israel. The posting said:

The review concluded that 11 months after the establishment of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, in the wake of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, there is now sufficient information from a wide variety of sources to apply standard export licensing procedures using the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria without any additional measures.


The Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria apply a number of tests, on a case-by-case basis, to all applications for licences to export military and dual use equipment anywhere in the world. These Criteria consider a range of issues, including the existence of a clear risk that exports might be used for internal repression or in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The government will not grant a licence if the export fails to meet any of the criteria.

Following the review the government has concluded that in the present context where the facts are clearer these Criteria may now be applied, without any additional measures, to provide a robust and sufficient framework for assessing all new applications and licences already in circulation to export military and dual use equipment to Israel.

In August 2014 the government announced that it had identified 12 export licences it would suspend, as a precautionary measure, in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities. It was concerned that, in these circumstances, it would be unable to clarify whether the export licensing criteria were being met. As a result of the most recent review this additional measure has now been lifted and the government is confident that all export licences in circulation for Israel meet these Criteria.

The government continues to monitor conflict and tension around the world. It retains the power to suspend export licensing where the security conditions in the export destination deteriorate to the extent that is impossible or extremely difficult to apply standard export licensing procedures.

UK - BIS ECO issues notice on doing business with Iran

On 15 July 2015, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Export Control Organisation (ECO) released Notice to Exporters 2015/20: Iran Nuclear Deal – information for business which advised businesses interested in doing business in Iran of the following:

  • There has been no immediate change to the sanctions or other restrictive measures against Iran – all existing sanctions will remain in force until the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken the actions that it has agreed to under the (JCPoA). This could take several months.
  • While sanctions remain in place they will continue to be enforced robustly.
  • Even when the phased lifting of economic sanctions begins some UN, EU and US sanctions will continue. In particular the arms embargo, and sanctions targeted at Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes, and those measures applied because of its human rights record and as a sponsor of terrorism, will remain in place.
  • If Iran adheres to its commitments and sanctions are lifted the Government will help the business and financial sector take advantage of the opportunities that will arise and to promote trade and investment between the UK and Iran. However the decision whether to trade with or invest in Iran remains a commercial one for businesses.
  • Even as sanctions are lifted Iran will remain a challenging place to do business, and banks and other financial institutions may remain reluctant to handle Iran-related transactions while full US sanctions remain in place.

More detailed information may be found at the BIS, ECO Business and enterprise guidance/Embargoes and sanctions on Iran page.

Outline of EU and U.S. sanctions relief for Iran under Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

On 14 July 2015, Iran and the EU/E3+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union) announced that they had agreed on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA or Agreement) regarding the lifting of sanctions currently imposed against Iran. If fully implemented, the JCPOA will ultimately see the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council (UNSC) sanctions targeting Iran, as well as multilateral and national sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear programme, including increasing access in areas of trade, technology, finance, and energy. In return, Iran will curb its nuclear programme and provide access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for verification purposes. There will also be a 65-day snapback mechanism by which sanctions can be reinstated for non-compliance, subject to a dispute resolution process.


Time Frame

According to unofficial copies of the Agreement published in the media, a UN resolution shall be promptly put forward to the UNSC to endorse the JCPOA. Ninety days after the UNSC adopts a resolution endorsing the JCPOA (or sooner if agreed by mutual consent), the JCPOA shall come into effect (“Adoption Day”). In practical terms, this will mean that the JCPOA participants will begin to make the necessary arrangements to implement their respective commitments under the JCPOA. However, UN, U.S. and EU sanctions will only begin to be relaxed once the IAEA has verified that Iran has implemented its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA (“Implementation Day”). On this basis, sanctions may not be actually lifted or relaxed until early 2016.

The EU has announced that it will prolong until 14 January 2016 the suspension of EU restrictive measures agreed in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) with Iran dated 24 November 2013. The U.S. Government has also announced its intention to extend the JPOA sanctions relief and is likely to adopt an approach similar to the EU. See our prior blog post about the JPOA. All other sanctions targeting Iran will remain in place until the sanctions relief described in the JCPOA is implemented.


EU Sanctions

The EU and EU Member States commit to terminate all provisions of Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 (as amended) Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP (as amended), and to terminate or amend national implementing legislation as required. Implementation Day will see the removal of restrictions on:

  • Certain listed persons, entities and bodies in the Iranian oil and gas, financial, and shipping sectors;
  • Financial, banking and insurance measures;
  • Oil, gas and petrochemical sectors;
  • Shipping, shipbuilding and transport sectors; and
  • Gold, other precious metals, banknotes and coinage.


Specific arms restrictions/missile proliferation sanctions will remain in place for eight years until the JCPOA’s “Transition day” - the earlier of (i) the date eight years after Adoption Day or (ii) the date on which the IAEA reports that it has reached conclusion that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities. Human rights related sanctions and those targeting terrorist financing are, however, expected to remain in place.

U.S. Sanctions

The principal impact of U.S. sanctions relief will be on non-U.S. persons not generally subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The U.S. sanctions applicable to U.S. persons, non-U.S. persons acting or causing an act to occur in the United States, and non-U.S. subsidiaries of U.S. companies will remain in effect, subject to certain favorable licensing policies, as noted below.


More specifically, the Agreement provides for phased relief of certain U.S. sanctions against Iran starting on Implementation Day. U.S. sanctions relief would be provided through suspension and eventual termination of secondary U.S. sanctions against Iran, which target specific activities of non-U.S. persons that are not otherwise subject to U.S. jurisdiction. The JCPOA provides for relief from certain U.S. secondary sanctions in the following areas:

  • Financial and banking measures
  • Insurance measures
  • Iranian energy and petrochemical sectors
  • Iranian shipping, shipbuilding and port sectors
  • Gold and other precious metals
  • Supply to Iran of software and metals
  • Iranian automotive sector
  • Delisting of Iranian parties as Specially Designated Nationals and other sanctions listings
  • Nuclear proliferation measures

The sanctions relief does not apply to U.S. sanctions that have been imposed to address human rights or terrorism issues relating to Iran. It also does not apply to U.S. sanctions imposed under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR) by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which continue to prohibit most Iran-related transactions by U.S. persons and non-U.S. entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons. According to the unofficial copy of the JCPOA, however:

  • The U.S. Government has agreed to license non-U.S. entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons to engage in activities consistent with the Agreement. It is not known whether those licenses will be general or specific or whether they will permit some level of U.S. person involvement, e.g., U.S. parent company facilitation of transactions undertaken by their foreign subsidiaries. As a result, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies may be able to engage in the Iran-related transactions described above, pursuant to general licenses issued under the ITSR or specific licenses obtained from OFAC.

  • In addition, the U.S. Government has apparently agreed to: (a) allow for the sale of commercial passenger aircraft and related parts and services to Iran, through licensing of exports and provision of associated services, and (b) license the importation into the United States of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs.


OFAC has not yet implemented any of these authorizations and has announced that it will issue guidance on JCPOA relief prior to Implementation Day.

As noted above, the U.S. Government has announced that it will further extend temporary U.S. sanctions relief under the JPOA in the interim. As part of this U.S. extension, all specific licenses with an expiration date on or before 14 July 2015 that were issued pursuant to OFAC’s Second Amended Statement of Licensing Policy on Activities Related to the Safety of Iran’s Civil Aviation Industry will remain in effect through Implementation Day. Prior to implementation, the JCPOA must also meet the requirements of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which imposes a 60-day congressional review period on the JCPOA during which the President may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit certain sanctions against Iran. The President has announced that he will “veto any legislation that prevents the successful implementation of this deal.”

Please check our Sanctions blog for any updates. For additional information, please contact any of the attorneys listed here.

US - OFAC issues statement on Joint Comprehensive Plan for Iran

On July 14, 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued a statement relating to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program. The statement follows:

Statement Relating to the July 14, 2015 Announcement of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program

  • On July 14, 2015, the P5 + 1 and Iran reached a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful. Building on the key parameters for a JCPOA announced on April 2, 2015, the JCPOA will provide Iran with phased sanctions relief upon verification that Iran has implemented key nuclear commitments.
  • U.S. sanctions relief will be provided through the suspension and eventual termination of nuclear-related secondary sanctions, beginning once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verifies that Iran has implemented key nuclear-related measures described in the JCPOA ("Implementation Day"). The U.S. government will publish detailed guidance related to the JCPOA prior to Implementation Day.
  • The P5+1 and Iran also decided on July 14, 2015 to further extend through Implementation Day the sanctions relief provided for in the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) of November 24, 2013, as extended. This JPOA sanctions relief is the only Iran-related sanctions relief in effect until further notice. The U.S. government will issue revised guidance on the continued JPOA relief shortly.
  • Effective July 14, 2015, all specific licenses that: (1) were issued pursuant to OFAC’s Second Amended Statement of Licensing Policy on Activities Related to the Safety of Iran’s Civil Aviation Industry, and (2) have an expiration date on or before July 14, 2015, are hereby authorized to remain in effect according to their terms until Implementation Day.


All the materials on the Iran sanctions, the JPOA and the JCPOA are available on the OFAC website here.

Amendments published to extend suspension of certain Iranian sanctions

On 14 July 2015, the Official Journal published Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1148 of 14 July 2015 amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran in response to the agreement on a long-term comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue that was reached on 14 July by China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, supported by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The parties agreed with Iran to extend the implementation of the measures of the Joint Plan of Action to allow for the necessary arrangements and preparations for the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Accordingly, Decision 2010/413/CFSP is amended to extend until 14 January 2016 the suspension of the Union restrictive measures specified in the Joint Plan of Action. Relevant contracts would have to be executed within that date.


For updates, please check our Sanctions blog.

US - BIS clarifies, corrects EAR re: spacecraft systems

On July 13, 2015, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. 150325297-5297-01] that makes additional clarifications and corrections to the interim final rule, Revisions to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR): Control of Spacecraft Systems and Related Items the President Determines No Longer Warrant Control Under the United States Munitions List (USML), that was published on May 13, 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 27417) (May 13 rule).. The May 13 rule added controls to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) for spacecraft and related items that the President has determined no longer warrant control under United States Munitions List (USML) Category XV – spacecraft and related items.

The changes included in the final rule are limited to corrections and clarifications to what was included in the interim final rule. It is the second corrections and clarifications rule BIS has published for the May 13 rule. These corrections and clarifications were also informed by comments received in response to the May 13 rule that included a request for comments. The corrections and clarifications to the May 13 rule are also part of Commerce’s retrospective regulatory review plan under Executive Order (EO) 13563.

US - CBP to accept Seneca tribal card and enhanced Minnesota driver’s license and state ID as acceptable travel identification at land and sea ports

On July 13, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a notice [CBP Dec. 15-09] announcing that the Commissioner of CBP is designating an approved Native American Tribal Card issued by the Seneca Nation of Indians to U.S. and Canadian citizens as an acceptable travel document for purposes of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). The approved card may be used to denote identity and citizenship of Seneca Nation of Indians members entering the United States from contiguous territory or adjacent islands at land and sea ports of entry. This designation became effective on publication.

On July 13, 2015, CBP also published in the Federal Register a notice [CBP Dec. 15-10] announcing that the Commissioner of CBP is designating enhanced driver’s licenses and identity documents issued by the State of Minnesota as acceptable documents for purposes of the WHTI. These documents may be used to denote identity and citizenship of U.S. citizens entering the United States from within the Western Hemisphere at land and sea ports of entry.

US - CBP announces NCAP test to expand remote location filings

On July 13, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing CBP’s plan to conduct a National Customs Automation Program (NCAP) test concerning entries filed using remote location (RLF) filing procedures. The test expands the entry types eligible for RLF procedures and the port locations where RLF entries may be filed; requires the electronic transmission of invoices using the Document Image System (DIS); and requires that single transaction bonds be transmitted using eBond for RLF entries requiring a single transaction bond. This test applies only to entries “certified for cargo release from summary” filed through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). Remote location filing is a special entry procedure which allows importers of record and brokers with a national permit to file an entry electronically from a remote location other than where the goods are being entered.

The test is in furtherance of key CBP modernization initiatives and the development of ACE. CBP is transitioning all entry types to ACE from the legacy Automated Commercial System (ACS). This test checks the viability, reliability and functionality associated with filing invoices using DIS; submitting single transaction bonds using eBond for RLF entries submitted in ACE; and expanding the entry types eligible for RLF procedures and port locations.

The notice invites public comment concerning the test program; provides legal authority for the test; explains the purpose of the test; provides test participant responsibilities; identifies the regulations that will be waived under the test; provides eligibility criteria for participation in the test; explains the application process; and establishes the duration of the test. This notice also explains the repercussions and appeals process for misconduct under the test.

The initial phase of the RLF test will begin on August 12, 2015. This test will continue until concluded by way of an announcement in the Federal Register. Comments will be accepted through the duration of the test.

US - CBP announces ACE Export Manifest for Air Cargo test

On July 10, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing that CBP plans to conduct the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Export Manifest for Air Cargo Test, a National Customs Automation Program (NCAP) test concerning ACE export manifest capability. The ACE Export Manifest for Air Cargo Test is a voluntary test in which participants agree to submit export manifest data electronically, at least 4 hours prior to loading of the cargo onto the aircraft in preparation for departure from the United States. CBP regulations require carriers to submit a paper manifest for export air shipments generally within 4 days after departure. The notice provides a description of the test, sets forth eligibility requirements for participation, and invites public comment on any aspect of the test.


The test will begin no earlier than August 10, 2015 and will run for approximately two years. CBP is accepting applications for participation in this planned test until CBP has received applications from nine parties that meet all test participant requirements. Comments concerning this notice and all aspects of the announced test may be submitted at any time during the test period.

US - USTR adds Montenegro to the list of designated countries for government procurement
On July 10, 2015, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a determination regarding waiver of discriminatory purchasing requirements under the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 with respect to goods and services of Montenegro. On October 29, 2014, the WTO Committee on Government Procurement approved the accession of Montenegro to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). Montenegro submitted its instrument of accession to the Secretary-General of the WTO on June 15, 2015. The GPA will enter into force for Montenegro on July 15, 2015. The United States, which is also a party to the GPA, has agreed to waive discriminatory purchasing requirements for eligible products and suppliers of Montenegro beginning on July 15, 2015.
US - OFAC issues Venezuela Sanctions Regulations
On July 10, 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published in the Federal Register a final rule issuing regulations to implement the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 (Public Law 113–278) and Executive Order 13692 of March 8, 2015 (“Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Venezuela”). OFAC intends to supplement this part 591 with a more comprehensive set of regulations, which may include additional interpretive and definitional guidance and additional general licenses and statements of licensing policy.
Switzerland, USA agree on mutual recognition of organic standards

On 9 July 2015, the Swiss Government announced that Switzerland and the USA have reached agreement on mutual recognition of each other’s standards for organic products. Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann signed the equivalence arrangement negotiated between the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) and the United States Department of Agriculture on 8 July in Washington. The arrangement facilitates trade in organic products. It comes into force with immediate effect. The announcement stated:

Mutual recognition granted by the arrangement will have a positive impact. Trade in organic products will be simplified and facilitated. The arrangement will open up the USA's fast-growing market in organic products to the Swiss organic sector and current disadvantages relative to EU competitors, who already profit from a similar arrangement with the USA, will disappear. This is of great importance for a number of companies in the Swiss food industry who have been waiting for some time for an arrangement to be concluded. The arrangement will also result in a reduction in administrative charges and costs for operators.

The equivalence arrangement applies to organic products which have been grown or produced, processed or packaged in Switzerland or the USA. Products which have been imported into the USA or Switzerland in accordance with their own legislation and are further processed or packaged there also fall within the scope of the arrangement.


By analogy to the arrangement between the USA and the EU, restrictions apply to organic animal products from Switzerland such as for example cheese or dried meat, which must come from animals which have not been treated with antibiotics. Furthermore, organic wines from the USA or Switzerland must comply with the special production and labelling rules laid down in the organic farming regulations of the country of destination. However, there is no need for separate certification for either animal products or wine.

WTO - TiSA partners to assess progress towards liberalization of service markets

On 3 July 2015, the European Commission announced that the 13th round of negotiations for an international agreement on trade in services, known as TiSA, will begin on 6 July in Geneva. The round will offer an opportunity to assess progress made so far and to define further steps in the negotiating process. This stocktaking builds upon the senior officials’ discussions that had taken place in Paris on 4 June. The participants will identify areas of negotiation that are making good progress, those that require further work, or, those that, given the current difficulties, may require a political decision. The announcement stated:

The negotiators dealing with market access will consider whether the offers on the table meet the objectives set for the TiSA and reflect on how to intensify negotiations in the second half of 2015.

With that in mind, the EU will urge all participants not having done so to table complete offers by the end of the summer.

The negotiators plan also to make progress this week on some specific issues, such as:

  1. domestic regulations, in particular the licensing procedures and requirements and professional qualifications,
  2. financial services,
  3. telecommunication,
  4. movement of natural persons as services suppliers, i.e. so called 'mode 4'.

Short sessions are also scheduled on maritime and road transport, transparency and e-commerce.

EU - TTIP Stakeholder events Round 10, Brussels

The European Commission announced that On Wednesday 15th July 2015, during the tenth round of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, taking place in Brussels from 13 to 17th July 2015, the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission will organize two stakeholder engagement events.

1. Stakeholder presentations event

From 11:00 to 13:30, stakeholders wishing to make short presentations (5 minutes) on a topic related to the TTIP negotiations will have the opportunity to explain their views to EU and US negotiators as well as to other interested stakeholders.

In order to facilitate engagement with the relevant negotiators, presentations will take place simultaneously in four rooms grouped as following:

  1. Issues related to manufacturing including regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade (TBT), specific sectors, energy and raw materials
  2. Issues related to agriculture including agricultural market access, related regulatory issues and Geographical Indications
  3. Issues related to services, investment and public procurement
  4. Issues related to rules – sustainable development, customs and trade facilitation, competition & state-owned enterprises (SOEs), intellectual property rights, small and medium enterprises (SMEs)

Note: presentations may be allocated in a different room than initially planned depending on the demand and timing available. The confirmation of registration and a schedule of presentations will be provided to participants by 8 July 2015. The schedule will also be published on DG Trade website.

2. Chief negotiators’ briefing to stakeholders

From 4:30-16:00, stakeholders will be briefed in detail by the EU and US chief negotiators on the status of the negotiations and will have the opportunity to exchange views with them.

Please see announcement for information on times and venue.

EU - Trilateral talks on EU-Ukraine trade area

On 9 July 2015, the European Commission announced that experts from the EU, Russia and Ukraine met in Brussels on 7-8 July for trilateral talks. The aim of these talks was to find solutions to the concerns raised by Russia regarding the implementation of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement/Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA) that will be provisionally applied as of 1 January 2016. The announcement stated:

Following the mandate set out in the Minsk Declaration of 12 February 2015 and the Joint Operational Conclusions of May of this year, three areas were discussed: technical regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) issues and customs cooperation. The exchanges were constructive and some progress was made on the basis of concrete suggestions put forward by the EU for all areas.

The experts will continue work in the coming weeks in view of reporting to Commissioner Malmström, Minister Ulyukayev and Minister Klimkin in July. Further steps will be decided on this basis, including a next ministerial meeting in early September, with a view of reaching a common understanding on bilateral and trilateral solutions compatible with the AA/DCFTA.

US - ITC amends rules: Investigations with Respect to Commercial Availability of Textile Fabric and Yarn in Sub-Saharan African Countries; Trade Remedy Assistance
On July 9, 2015, the U.S. International Trade Commission published in the Federal Register a final rule amending provisions of its Rules of Practice and Procedure concerning the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, the Government in the Sunshine Act; market disruption, trade diversion, and review of relief actions; and trade remedy assistance. The amendments are part of the agency’s retrospective analysis of its Rules that attempts to determine whether rules should be modified, streamlined, expanded, or repealed so as to make the agency's regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving regulatory objectives.
US - CBP announces next COAC meeting

On July 9, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a notice [Docket No. USCBP-2015-0019] advising the public that the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (COAC) will meet on July 29, 2015, in Rosemont, IL. The meeting will be open to the public. Meeting participants may attend either in person or via webinar after preregistering using a method indicated in the Federal Register notice.

Comments on the Agenda items must be submitted in writing no later than July 17, 2015, and must be identified by Docket No. USCBP-2015-0019, and may be submitted by one of the methods set out in the notice. For access to the docket or to read background documents or comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket Number USCBP-2015-0019.

COAC will hear from the following subcommittees on the topics listed below and then will review, deliberate, provide observations, and formulate recommendations on how to proceed on those topics:

  1. The One U.S. Government Subcommittee will discuss the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), Single Window working group recommendations and provide input on Trade Readiness and Partner Government Agencies’ readiness for the upcoming November 1, 2015 ACE implementation of Single Window.
  2. The Exports Subcommittee will address policy and a strategic approach regarding exports. The Option 4 and Air Manifest working groups will provide recommendations.
  3. The Trade Enforcement and Revenue Collection Subcommittee will discuss the establishment of the 14th Term Antidumping and Countervailing Duty and Intellectual Property Rights working groups and provide recommendations.
  4. The Trade Modernization Subcommittee will discuss operational uniformity of Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) with a goal of developing recommendations for the creation of service levels for various Center activities. The subcommittee will report plans for engaging CBP on international trade agreements, simplification of CBP processes, the role of various international trade entities and the development of private and public sector trade expertise.
  5. The Trusted Trader Subcommittee will start work once the Trusted Trader pilot has advanced to the implementation phase for testing CBP and Partner Government Agency trade benefits. The subcommittee will explore certifying trusted products through the supply chain.
  6. The Global Supply Chain Subcommittee will discuss the feasibility, benefits and risks of using Electronic Cargo Security Devices. The subcommittee will report on long term development of recommendations regarding Customs and Border Protection’s development of automation and regulations governing the commodities being moved by pipelines. Further discussion will involve the Customs - Trade Partnership Against Terrorism Program as it pertains to the ocean mode of transportation, results of various pre-inspection pilots at land ports of entry and the Air Cargo Advance Screening.

Meeting materials will be available at the CBP COAC website.

Pacific Alliance Presidents issue Joint Declaration

The Peruvian Ministry of External Affairs announced that on 3 July 2015, the Presidents of Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru met in Paracas, Peru for the X Summit of the Pacific Alliance (Alianza Pacífico). At the Summit, the Presidents issued the Paracas Declaration which welcomed the entry into force on 20 July 2015 of the Framework Agreement of the Pacific Alliance as well as advances in the process of improvement of the Additional Protocol and the Agreement Establishing the Cooperation Fund. In addition, the Declaration set the future agenda including a 13 point list of goals (rough translation from the Spanish):

  1. The signing of the Protocol Amending the First Additional Protocol to the Framework Agreement, which includes a chapter on Regulatory Improvement, an Annex to the Chapter on Technical Barriers to Trade in the field of cosmetics as well as amendments and new provisions to the Chapters of Telecommunications and Electronic Commerce.
  2. The signing of the Framework Agreement for Cooperation financial support to companies in the countries of the Pacific Alliance.
  3. The presentation of an analysis aimed at the empowerment of agricultural trade to third economies.
  4. The study by the OECD to promote the internationalization and integration of SMEs into global value chains.
  5. The realization of the Third Macro Business Round of the Pacific Alliance, held on June 17th and 18th, 2015 in the city of Paracas; the First Commercial Meeting of Value Chains for Strengthening Business, also held in Paracas, Ica, on June 18th and the Second Forum of Innovation and Entrepreneurship held in Cali, Colombia.
  6. The development of the Pacific II Macro Round on tourism held in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, from 25 to 27 May 2015.
  7. The success of the Platform for Academic and Student Mobility, that date has mobilized 855 students in five calls since 2013.
  8. The launch of the project on Youth Service promotes the participation of our youth in social projects.
  9. The publication entitled "Partnership Opportunities in Research on Climate Change in the countries of the Pacific Alliance".
  10. The implementation of the Platform for Exchange of Information for immigration immediate safety of the Pacific Alliance.
  11. The creation of the Technical Groups Mining Development, Social Responsibility and Sustainability and Education, and the adoption of its work plans.
  12. The holding of the First Meeting of Deputy Ministers of Health approved the working agendas timely and equitable access to medicines and humanization and quality of health services.
  13. Re-launch of the website of the Pacific Alliance.


The Declaration includes an Annex which sets forth concrete steps that need to be accomplished to harmonize the policies and move the Framework Agreement forward. This includes a Single Window for Foreign Trade including a phytosanitary certification in the first part of 2016; uniform Customs documentation by 2018 and coordination of consumer protection agencies.

The Pacific Alliance currently consist of 4 members and 32 observer nations. The presidents have agreed to requests by an additional ten nations to be observers (Austria, Denmark, Georgia, Greece, Haiti, Hungary, Indonesia, Poland, Sweden and Thailand). In addition, Costa Rica and Panama are to become full members in the future.

U.S. to host Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Ministers’ meeting in Hawaii
On July 7, 2015, the Office of the U.S. trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States will host a meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Ministers in Maui, Hawaii from July 28-31, preceded by a meeting of TPP Chief Negotiators from July 24-27. Since they last met in May, Trade Ministers from the twelve TPP countries have been working continuously. As a result, they have made considerable progress in closing gaps on remaining issues, and they continue to work intensively to address specific issues bilaterally. The upcoming ministerial provides an important opportunity to build on this progress as the negotiators work to conclude the negotiation.
US - Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) updated in the Automated Export System (AES)

On July 8, 2015, the Bureau of Census announced that effective immediately, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) table has been updated in the AES.


AES will accept shipments with outdated codes during a grace period for 30 days beyond the expiration date. Reporting an outdated code after the 30 day grace period will result in a fatal error.


The AESDirect program has been updated and will accept shipments with outdated codes during the grace period as well.


All AESPcLink users must update their AESDirect code tables to reflect the changes in the HTS. Web users of AESDirect who file via the website will have their code tables updated via the program automatically.


The HTS table is available for download here. The current list of HTS codes that are not valid for AES are available here.

US - Treasury publishes list of countries requiring cooperation with an international boycott
On July 8, 2015, In accordance with section 999(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, 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.
US - Information sought on alleged subsidies to certain airlines

On July 8, 2015, the Departments of State, Transportation and Commerce published in the Federal Register a notice [Docket No. 150416372-5569-02] supplementing the Federal Register notice published on May 5, 2015 (80 Fed. Reg. 25671), which announced their interest in obtaining information and views on assertions that three foreign airlines—Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways—have received and are benefitting from subsidies from their respective governments that are distorting the global aviation market. The current notice establishes deadlines for submission of information and provides additional guidance for submission of information that the submitter believes to be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (hereafter “Confidential Information”) (such as trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential).

The Departments request that information provided in response to the Departments’ May 5, 2015 Federal Register notice be submitted to the dockets [DOT-OST-2015-0082; DOS-2015-0016; DOC-2015-0001] by 11:59 p.m. (EDT) on August 3, 2015. The Departments further request that additional materials commenting on information submitted to the dockets be submitted by 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 24, 2015. The Departments may, at their discretion, establish additional deadlines for submission of further materials to the dockets.

US - Continuation of Certain Temporary Sanctions Relief Implementing the Joint Plan of Action, as Extended
On July 7, 2015, the P5 + 1, (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), the European Union and Iran decided by mutual consent to extend the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) for three days in order to continue negotiations to reach a comprehensive solution. Accordingly, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published on its web site Guidance on the Continuation of Certain Temporary Sanctions Relief Implementing the Joint Plan of Action, as Extended. This guidance replaces the guidance issued by OFAC on June 30, 2015, which extended the JPOA sanctions relief through July 7, 2015.
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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
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John F. McKenzie
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Editor, International Trade
Compliance Update


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