US - CBP announces new date for October 2015 Customs Broker license exam
On July 2, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing that CBP has changed the date on which the semi-annual written examination for an individual broker’s license will be held in October 2015. The customs broker’s license examination scheduled for October 2015 will be held on Wednesday, October 7, 2015 because the first Monday in October coincides with a religious holiday.
Canada - Measures targeting the Crimea Region of Ukraine and names additional Russian individuals and entities as Designated Persons enacted

On June 29, 2015, the Government of Canada amended the Special Economic Measures (Ukraine) Regulations (the “Ukraine Regulations”) to impose specific sanctions against the Crimea region of Ukraine, and added a number of persons to the lists of designated persons under Schedule 1 and Schedule 3 of the Special Economic Measures (Russia) Regulations (the “Russia Regulations”). These amendments to the Ukraine and Russia Regulations came into immediate effect on June 29, 2015.

With respect to the Ukraine Regulations, the amendments added the term “Crimea region of Ukraine”, which is defined as “the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and includes their land areas and territorial sea.” The amendments now prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from, among other things: (a) making an investment in the Crimea region of Ukraine that involves a dealing in any property located in the Crimea region of Ukraine that is held by or on behalf of the Crimea region of Ukraine or a person therein; (b) importing, purchasing, acquiring, shipping or otherwise dealing in goods, wherever situated, that are exported from the Crimea region of Ukraine; or (c) exporting, selling, supplying, shipping or otherwise dealing in goods, wherever situated, destined for the Crimea region of Ukraine or any person in the Crimea region of Ukraine. Per the new section 4.2 added by the amendments, certain activities that are performed in furtherance of a contract entered into before June 29, 2015 may be exempted from these newly introduced sanctions measures; however, contracts should be carefully reviewed before relying on such exemptions.

Separately, the names of three individuals and ten entities were added to Schedule 1 of the Russia Regulations, which designates persons subject to the most restrictive sanctions under the regulations, and the names of four entities were added to Schedule 3 of the Russia Regulations.

An unofficial copy of the regulations amending the Ukraine Regulations can be found here. An unofficial copy of the regulations amending the Russia Regulations can be found here.

For additional information, please contact Paul D. Burns, Brian Cacic or Jonathan Tam of our Toronto office. Check our Sanctions Blog for updates and related information.

Switzerland amends Russia/Ukraine Measures

On 1 July 2015, the Swiss Government (Federal Council) decreed additional rules on the implementation of the import ban for war material from Russia and Ukraine. To that end it amended the Ordinance on Measures to prevent the Circumvention of International Sanctions connected with the Situation in Ukraine, effective as of 1 July, 6pm CET. The new rules prohibit the import of firearms, their components, accessories, ammunition and ammunition components from Russia and Ukraine, which fall under the scope of the War Material Act (with regard to their export), and the Weapons Act (with regard to their import). The import of explosives, pyrotechnic devices and propellant powder for military purposes is also prohibited. Under the existing legislation it was not possible to prevent such imports from Russia and Ukraine. By making these specific adjustments, the Federal Council is continuing its policy of ensuring that Switzerland cannot be misused to circumvent the measures imposed by the European Union.

For additional information, please contact Philippe M. Reich, of our Zurich office. Check our Sanctions Blog for updates and related developments.

Iran - Continuation of Certain Temporary Sanctions Relief Implementing the Joint Plan of Action, as Extended

On June 30, 2015, the P5 + 1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), EU, and Iran decided by mutual consent to extend the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) for seven days in order to continue negotiations to reach a comprehensive solution.


Accordingly, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today is publishing on its Web site a joint Treasury/State Guidance on the Continuation of Certain Temporary Sanctions Relief Implementing the Joint Plan of Action, as Extended.

Please check the Sanctions blog for updates.

US - TPA, TAA and extension of trade preferences become law

On June 29, 2015, President Obama signed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (Enrolled H.R. 1295 – Public Law version not available at time of posting). It become Public Law 114-27. The Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 extends the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2025 and enhances many of its provisions. In addition, the Bill retroactively extends the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program from July 31, 2013 to December 31, 2017. In order to receive retroactive benefits, importers must file requests for reliquidation within 180 days after enactment of the law. Refunds are to be paid without interest within 90 days of the liquidation or reliquidation. The bill also extends the preferential duty treatment programs for Haiti through 2025 and includes some changes to the anti-dumping laws, the Internal Revenue Code and tariff classification revisions for certain “performance outerwear” and “protective active footwear.”

On the same date, the President signed H.R. 2146, a bill that amends the Internal Revenue Code, whose Title I is Trade Promotion Authority (“fast-track”) with the short title of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (Enrolled H.R. 2146 - Public Law version not available at time of posting). This bill sets forth the trade negotiating objectives, Congressional consultation and oversight requirements, engagement with advisory committees, and procedures for Congress to approve or disapprove, but not amend, trade agreements negotiated by this Administration (and the next Administration), such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which are currently under negotiation.

EU and China issue statement on their mutual recognition agreement for trusted traders’ programmes

On 29 June 2015, during the 17th EU-China summit in Brussels, the EU and China issued a joint statement on the mutual recognition of their trusted traders' programmes. The statement said that on 16 May 2014, the EU/China Joint Customs Co-operation Committee (JCCC) decided on mutual recognition of the Authorized Economic Operator Programme (EU) and the Classified Management of Enterprises Program (China) as an important objective to strengthen end-to-end supply chain security for trade in goods.

China has replaced its Measures on Classified Management of Enterprises by the Interim Measures of Customs Administration for Enterprise Credit Management with effect from 1 December 2014. In this light, the European Commission and the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China state that:

  • The joint assessment of the new measures has concluded that the recent Chinese Interim Measures for Enterprise Credit Management are in line with the World Customs Organization SAFE Framework of Standards and legally compatible with EU customs legislation.

  • Prior to the implementation of the decision on mutual recognition, compatibility is still to be jointly confirmed in relation to the practical implementation of the new measures. This confirmation is to address the organizational aspects relating to the certification of enterprises, the IT development requirements, the training for the auditors and the process of monitoring by customs.

  • The two sides are to develop the relevant IT programmes and to conduct joint testing to ensure smooth implementation of data exchanges under the mutual recognition decision. This effort should be compatible with the wider IT developments across the spectrum of EU-China customs cooperation.

  • The benefits of the respective programmes and of their mutual recognition will be communicated by the two sides to enterprises and to the public.

  • The successful completion of the actions outlined above should allow the mutual recognition decision and the related benefits to be implemented in November 2015.

In an Information Note, the European Commission indicated that the mutual recognition agreement that is due to come into force in November 2015 will allow certified companies to benefit from faster controls and reduced administration for customs clearance. Mutual recognition of trusted traders also allows customs to focus their resources on real risk areas, thereby improving supply chain security on both sides. The EU is the first trading partner to enter into such an agreement with China, having already signed similar deals with the USA (2012) and Japan (2011). China introduced similar measures to the EU’s for its own reliable enterprises in 2008, which were replaced by a new legislation from 1 December 2014.

Brazil - CAMEX approves 166 ex-tariff items to encourage US$ 644 million investment in industry

On 22 June 2015, the Official Gazette (Diário Oficial da União) published Camex Resolution No. 54 and Camex Resolution No. 55 with a list of 166 ex-tariff items for capital goods and information technology goods and telecommunications, which will reduce the rate of import duty to 2% until 31 December 2016, in the case of capital goods, and until 31 December 2015, in the case of computer goods and telecommunications.

The tariffs are linked to investments in industrial projects of US$ 644,665,000. The amounts related to the imported equipment are $ 284 million. With regard to global investments, the main sectors covered were: iron and steel (45%), auto parts (11%), capital goods (7%), naval and nautical (5%), and food (3%).

The reduced tax and equipment will be used in industrial projects in the states of Ceara, Santa Catarina, Pernambuco and Sao Paulo. Imports will be made mainly from Spain (27.01%), US (18.88%), Canada (8.81%), Italy (8.05%) and Germany (7.55%) .

The ex-tariff regime aims to stimulate investments for expansion and restructuring of the national productive sector of goods and services through the temporary reduction of import duty for capital goods and information technology and telecommunications goods not produced in Brazil. It is up to the ex-tariff Analysis Committee (Caex) to verify the absence of domestic production and the merits of the claims in light of the intended objectives, the investment involved and government development policies. Brazilian manufacturers of industrial machinery and equipment also participate in the national production of analysis process.

Brazil - MDIC prevents crockery imports with false declarations or origin

On 26 June 2015, The Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC) Foreign Trade Secretariat (Secex) published in the Official Gazette (Diário Oficial da União) Edicts No. 50 , 51 and 52 , 2015 which ended investigations to determine false declaration of origin on imports of crockery for table objects. These procedures are performed to identify companies trying to export the subject goodss to Brazil without paying the anti-dumping duty imposed on imports of porcelain objects made in China to the table. The duty applied by Camex Resolution No. 3/2014, ranges from US $ 1.84 to US $ 5.14 per kilo.

Due to a complaint from the private sector, since October 2014, Secex has been conducting a risk analysis of import permit applications for porcelain objects to the table, classified under headings 69.11 or 69.12 of the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), in order to identify false declarations of origin to circumvent the anti-dumping duty. In 2015, Secex has performed 31 original investigations of crockery objects manufacturers. Iit has verified that the company was manufacturer, according to Brazilian standards, in just eight cases. There are still two other investigations of the same products.

US – House passes Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Preferences
On June 25, 2015, by a vote of 286 - 138, the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to the amended bill (H.R. 1295) to extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Generalized System of Preferences, the preferential duty treatment program for Haiti, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act.
EU - Sanctions against Russia extended to 31 January 2016
Pursuant to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/971, which was published in the Official Journal on Wednesday 23 June, the European Council has formally extended the EU economic sanctions against Russia until 31 January 2016.
US - TPA passed by both Houses after initial defeat of companion TAA in the House threatened entire trade agenda

Background: The trade agenda consists of four main pieces of legislation – 1. Trade Promotion Authority (TPA or “fast-track”) which is necessary to complete negotiations on the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the US-EU Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); 2. Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which is a popular program to retrain those whose jobs are lost by trade agreements; 3. renewal of the GSP, AGOA and Haitian trade preference programs, which are very popular in both Houses and both political parties; and 4. a trade facilitation and enforcement bill in the form of a Customs reauthorization. The Congressional leadership and the White House agreed that at least the first three must pass Congress as a packaged deal. Originally, all four were separately introduced, but in the U.S. Senate, the TPA and TAA bills were initially combined into a single bill which passed and was sent to the U.S. House of Representatives. The other two bills had also passed the Senate.


However, on June 12, 2015, by a roll-call vote of 126-302 (Roll no. 361), the House failed to pass that portion of the Senate-passed Trade Act (title II) that would renew TAA. Even though TAA has been very popular with Democratic members, most Democrats joined with a few Republicans to defeat the TAA, knowing that it would stall the TPA because of the agreements to treat them together. A few minutes later, the House voted 219-211 (Roll no. 362) to concur in the Senate-passed TPA portion of the Trade Act. However, by defeating TAA, the entire trade bill was in jeopardy because of the understanding that the TAA and TPA would be linked.

After consultation, the House and Senate leadership decided to send a clean TPA bill to the Senate and then have the Senate combine the TAA provisions with the renewal of trade preferences (GSP, AGOA and Haiti). In accordance with that plan, on June 18, 2015, by a vote of 218-208, the U.S. House of Representatives again passed TPA. This time, it was an amendment tacked on to the end of H.R. 2146, an unrelated bill that had already passed the U.S. Senate without TPA.


On June 24, by a vote of 60-38, the U.S. Senate approved the TPA legislation for a second time, but this time as the amended H.R. 2146 from the House of Representatives. The Senate added the Trade Adjustment Assistance provisions to the very popular trade preferences bill, the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (H.R. 1295) for another vote (both previously passed the Senate) which passed again (76-22), also on June 24. That action sent the now combined trade preferences and TAA bill back to the House. The Bill extends the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2025 and enhances many of its provisions. In addition, the Bill retroactively extends the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program from July 31, 2013 to December 31, 2017. Requests for reliquidation must be filed within 180 days after enactment of the law. Refunds are to be paid without interest within 90 days of the liquidation or reliquidation. The bill extends the preferential duty treatment programs for Haiti through 2025 and includes some changes to the anti-dumping laws, the Internal Revenue Code and tariff classification revisions for certain “performance outerwear” and “protective active footwear.”


The fourth trade bill – on trade facilitation and enforcement (H.R. 644) – passed both Houses in different versions and will now go to committee to resolve differences.

U.S. ITA’s Enforcement and Compliance revises filing information

On June 25, 2015, The International Trade Administration’s Enforcement and Compliance published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No.: 150522476–5476–01] to change the room number of the Administrative Protective Order and Dockets Unit (APO/Dockets Unit). The rule also changes the web address of Enforcement and Compliance’s electronic filing system, Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). Finally, the rule changes the web address for the location of the ACCESS Handbook on Electronic Filing. Consistent with this action, the rule makes appropriate conforming changes in the regulations.

On March 2, 2015, the APO/Dockets Unit changed its location from Room 1870 to Room 18022. The rule updates the regulations to reflect this room change. On October 1, 2013, the Import Administration was renamed Enforcement and Compliance. See Import Administration; Change of Agency Name, 78 Fed. Reg. 62417 (October 22, 2013). On November 20, 2014, Enforcement and Compliance published the final rule updating the name of the electronic filing system from ‘‘IA ACCESS’’ to ‘‘ACCESS.’’ Enforcement and Compliance; Change of Electronic Filing System Name, 79 Fed. Reg. 69046 (November 20, 2014). The rule updates the regulations to reflect the web address so that it conforms with the name change. Thus, “http://iaaccess.trade.gov” is changed to “https://access.trade.gov”. In addition, the location of the ACCESS Handbook on Electronic Filing Procedures (ACCESS Handbook) has moved to the ACCESS Web site. Thus, references to the location of the ACCESS Handbook are changed from the web address “http://www.trade.gov/ia” to “https://access.trade.gov”.

President extends national emergency with respect to the Western Balkans

On June 24, 2015, the Federal Register published the President’s Notice of June 22, 2015 - Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to the Western Balkans which extends for an additional year the national emergency first declared in Executive Order (EO) 13219 of June 26, 2001 to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions of persons engaged in, or assisting, sponsoring, or supporting (i) extremist violence in the Republic of Macedonia and elsewhere in the Western Balkans region, or (ii) acts obstructing implementation of the Dayton Accords in Bosnia or United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of June 10, 1999, relating to Kosovo.


The President subsequently amended that order in EO 13304 of May 28, 2003, to take additional steps with respect to acts obstructing implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement relating to Macedonia. The national emergency is being continued for an additional year because the actions of persons threatening the peace and international stabilization efforts in the Western Balkans continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

President extends national emergency with respect to N. Korea

On June 24, 2015, the Federal Register published the President’s Notice of June 22, 2015 - Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to North Korea which extends for an additional year the national emergency first declared in Executive Order (EO) 13466 of June 26, 2008 to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula. The President also found that it was necessary to maintain certain restrictions with respect to North Korea that would otherwise have been lifted pursuant to Proclamation 8271 of June 26, 2008, which terminated the exercise of authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C. App. 1–44) with respect to North Korea.

The scope of the national emergency was expanded by EO 13551 of August 30, 2010, EO 13570 of April 18, 2011 and EO 13687 of January 2, 2015. The national emergency is being extended for one year because the existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the Government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.

EFTA and Central American States sign Protocol of Accession of Guatemala to the EFTA-Central America FTA
On 22 June 2015, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) announced that Ministers from the Member States of EFTA – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama signed the Protocol of Accession of Guatemala to the EFTA-Central American Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Schaan, Liechtenstein. Guatemala is the first country to accede to this FTA, which will further enhance the economic ties and promote trade and investment between the EFTA States and Guatemala.

Building on a Joint Declaration on Cooperation signed by the EFTA States and Panama in July 2010, negotiations between EFTA and four Central American States were launched in November 2011 and were concluded with Costa Rica and Panama in December 2012. Negotiations with Guatemala were concluded in November 2014. The negotiations with Honduras are on hold. The EFTA-Central America FTA was signed by the EFTA States, Costa Rica and Panama in June 2013 and entered into force in August 2014 for Costa Rica, Panama, Norway Liechtenstein and Switzerland and September 2014 for Iceland.

The EFTA-Central America FTA has comprehensive coverage, including trade in goods (industrial and agricultural goods, fish and other marine products), rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade in services, investment, competition, protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement and sustainable development. A Joint Committee supervises the functioning of the FTA. The accession of Guatemala will become effective after completion of the necessary internal procedures by all the Parties.

U.S. Senate approves Trade Promotion Authority – for a second time
The U.S. Senate passed Trade Promotion Authority for a second time this afternoon. The vote was necessary because the House of Representatives had defeated one of four bills that were intended to pass both Houses of Congress as a package. The final vote was 60-38. The Senate must still re-pass a Trade Preferences bill to which a Trade Adjustment Assistance bill was attached and send it back to House.
US signs IPR MOU with Paraguay
On June 18, 2015, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that the United States and Paraguay signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on intellectual property rights (IPR) during a June 18 meeting of the United States-Paraguay Partnership Dialogue at the Department of State. As part of the MOU, Paraguay has committed to take specific steps to improve its IPR protection and enforcement environment. Additionally, the MOU creates a bilateral partnership in which the United States intends to support Paraguay’s efforts to strengthen the legal protection and enforcement of IPR, including through the enhancement of creative and innovative industries, to promote Paraguay’s strategic priorities of growth and development. As a result of the MOU’s signing and the commitments Paraguay has assumed under the MOU to strengthen IPR protection and enforcement in Paraguay, USTR has removed Paraguay from the 2015 Special 301 Watch List pursuant to an Out-of-Cycle Review.
Canada’s request to suspend concessions in “US — COOL” dispute goes to arbitration

On 17 June 2015, the WTO announced that the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) at its meeting on 17 June considered Canada’s request for authorisation to suspend concessions to the United States in the “US — COOL” dispute (DS384 and DS386: United States — Certain country of origin labelling (COOL) requirements). In light of the US objection to Canada’s “excessive” request, the matter is now referred to arbitration. The announcement stated:

The DSB considered Canada’s request for authorisation to suspend concessions to the United States in this dispute. In light of the US objection to Canada’s “excessive” request, the matter is now referred to arbitration.

*** Canada requested that the DSB authorise Canada to suspend concessions in the amount of CDN$ 3.068 billion per year (about US$ 2.5 billion). This was the equivalent of the level of nullification and impairment of benefits suffered by Canada, on an annual basis, as a result of the amended COOL measure. Canada noted the US communication of 16 June 2015 informing of its objection to the amount requested by Canada. Canada understood that, as a result of the US objection, the matter is now referred to arbitration.

The United States noted that, further to its objection to Canada’s request, this matter was referred to arbitration. The US said it strongly disagreed with Canada’s specific proposal for the suspension of concessions which, in its view, was quite excessive.

The DSB took note of the statements and that the matter raised by the United States in document WT/DS384/36 has been referred to arbitration.

Previously, Mexico withdrew from the proposed agenda its request for authorisation to suspend concessions to the United States, citing an error in its request. A new request by Mexico will be shortly circulated to members.

The next regular meeting of the DSB is scheduled for 19 June 2015.

US – CBP to assist exporters in tariff classification and valuation

On June 18, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice describing opportunities available to U.S. exporters to obtain assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to resolve matters concerning the tariff classification and customs valuation applied to U.S. exports by other governments. By publication of this notice, CBP invites U.S. exporters to submit requests for such assistance.

The Federal Register notice states:

Classification or Customs Valuation by Other Customs Administrations Affecting U.S. Exports

By publication of this notice, U.S. Customs and Border Protection emphasizes that opportunities exist to strengthen communication and coordination between industry, CBP, other customs administrations, and the WCO to advance the shared goal of facilitating international trade. Greater collaboration with industry promotes improved technical understanding among contracting parties and helps to foster uniformity in the interpretation and application of the HS Convention and WTO Valuation Agreement.

On matters involving non-uniform tariff classification or customs valuation treatment by other customs administrations, individual parties or firms do not have standing to initiate dispute settlement procedures or consultations under the HS Convention or the WTO Valuation Agreement. Consequently, for a U.S. individual or firm to raise a tariff classification or customs valuation dispute, that party must file an inquiry or complaint with the U.S. government and provide, or assist in the collection of, any information relating to the matter which may be required.

Accordingly, CBP hereby invites U.S. exporters to file with CBP requests for assistance in resolving any tariff classification or customs valuation treatment by other customs administrations affecting U.S. exports. Of course, as a threshold technical matter, in order to provide the requested assistance, CBP must agree with the position of the exporter with regard to the specific matter brought to CBP’s attention.

CBP will endeavor to provide an initial response to such requests within 60 days of their receipt. Thereafter, in cooperation with the appropriate agencies, CBP will consider the appropriate course of action, including but not limited to the initiation of consultations or dispute settlement at meetings of the HSC or TCCV at the WCO. The inquirer or complainant will be informed of the progress achieved in resolving the matter. Requests for assistance on tariff classification or customs valuation treatment by other customs administrations affecting U.S. exports should be addressed to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Office of International Trade, Regulations & Rulings, Attention: Commercial and Trade Facilitation Division, 90 K St. NE., 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20229–1177.

Confidentiality

Information submitted by U.S. exporters concerning requests for assistance may, in some instances, include confidential commercial or financial information, the disclosure of which could result in competitive harm to the business submitter. Such information is, generally, protected under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) (FOIA), the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a), and the Trade Secrets Act (18 U.S.C. 1905). If confidential treatment is requested, submitters should specifically designate the information it considers confidential. Such requests will be handled in accordance with CBP Regulations (19 CFR 103.35) regarding the protection of such information.

Regulations and Rulings (R&R), within CBP’s Office of International Trade, leads U.S. delegations at semi-annual meetings of the Harmonized System Committee (HSC) at the WCO. The HSC ensures, at a technical level, a uniform approach to the interpretation and application of tariff classifications under the Harmonized System which was developed and is maintained by the WCO pursuant to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (the “HS Convention”). CBP also serves with the USITC on U.S. delegations at meetings of the Harmonized System Review Subcommittee, which occur twice per year at the WCO.

R&R also represents the United States at the semi-annual meetings of the Technical Committee on Customs Valuation (TCCV), and the United States currently serves as TCCV Chair. The TCCV was established by the WTO Valuation Agreement (Valuation Agreement) to ensure the uniform interpretation and application of internationally agreed upon customs valuation principles, set out in the Valuation Agreement. The TCCV is responsible for the examination of technical problems arising in the day-to-day administration of the customs valuation systems of WTO Valuation Agreement signatories. In addition, the TCCV renders advisory opinions on appropriate solutions based upon the facts presented. Disputes arising under Article 19 of the WTO Valuation Agreement may be referred to the TCCV for an examination of any questions requiring technical consideration.

China and Australia sign landmark FTA

The Australian government announced that on June 17, 2015, the Australian and Chinese governments signed the long-awaited China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) in a ceremony in Canberra. The historic agreement was signed by Australia's Trade Minister Andrew Robb and China's Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng and completed ten years of negotiations and followed the Declaration of Intent signed in November 2014 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Both countries must now complete their domestic treaty making processes to bring the Agreement into force. In Australia this includes consideration by the Parliament, more information about the steps to entry into force can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website has comprehensive information on the ChAFTA as well as the full text of the Agreement. The materials include:

Fact Sheet: Agriculture and Processed Food

Fact Sheet: Resources, Energy and Manufacturing

Fact Sheet: Trade in goods - trade rules and facilitation

Fact Sheet: Trade in Services

Fact Sheet: Financial Services

Fact Sheet: Investment

Fact Sheet: Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

Fact Sheet: Movement of Natural Persons

Fact Sheet: Electronic Commerce, Intellectual Property, Competition Policy and Government Procurement

China-Australia FTA - Outcomes at a glance

Quick Guide: Agriculture and Processed Foods Outcomes

Quick Guide: Key Resources, Energy and Manufacturing Outcomes

Quick Guide: Key Services Outcomes

Quick Guide: Key Investment and Investor-state Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Outcomes

ChAFTA - Benefits for Australian business

ChAFTA - Opening new opportunities for Australian products in China

Implementation process and timeline

Infographic: China-Australia FTA: The benefits for Australia

Economic modelling of Australia's North Asia FTAs

Tony Abbot’s announcement may be seen here.

The Chinese government’s announcement (in Chinese) is here.

June 24 Webinar: Overview of Current US and EU Sanctions Targeting Iran and Potential Developments

Baker & McKenzie's market leading international trade team invites you to join them for a free webinar providing an update on the latest developments in respect of the US and EU sanctions imposed on Iran.

As the initial 30 June 2015 deadline for the Iran nuclear negotiations approaches, we will be discussing the current state of play as well as the impact any potential agreement might have.

We anticipate holding another substantive webinar if and when an agreement is reached.

We hope that you will be able to join us.

Click here to register now.

Wednesday 24 June 2015
07.00 San Francisco / 09.00 Chicago / 10.00 Washington DC, New York, Toronto / 11.00 Brasilia / 15.00 London / 16.00 Western Europe / Istanbul 17.00 / Moscow 18.00 / Singapore 22.00

The webinar will run for 45 minutes. For those of you who reside in a different time zone and wish to verify your time - please click on the following link.

Log-in details will be sent via email the day before the event.

Additional Information.

US - Commerce publishes notice of scope rulings

On June 16, 2015, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce published in the Federal Register a notice listing the scope rulings and anticircumvention determinations made between January 1, 2015, and March 31, 2015, inclusive. Commerce intends to publish future lists after the close of the next calendar quarter. Scope rulings were made in the following cases:

• A–588–869: Diffusion-Annealed Nickel-Plated Flat-Rolled Steel Products From Japan
• A–201–805: Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe From Mexico
• A–570–967 and C–570–968: Aluminum Extrusions From the People’s Republic of China (6 rulings)
• A–570–890: Wooden Bedroom From the People’s Republic of China

US - BIS and State propose regulations for toxicological agents and directed energy weapons

On June 17, 2015, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule [Docket No. 120105019-5328-01] describing how articles the President determines no longer warrant control under Category XIV (Toxicological Agents, Including Chemical Agents, Biological Agents, and Associated Equipment) or Category XVIII (Directed Energy Weapons) of the United States Munitions List (USML) would be controlled under the Commerce Control List (CCL). The affected Category XIV articles consist primarily of dissemination, detection and protection “equipment” and related articles and would be controlled under new Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) 1A607, 1B607, 1C607, 1D607, and 1E607, as proposed by this rule. The affected Category XVIII articles consist primarily of tooling, production “equipment,” test and evaluation “equipment,” test models and related articles and would be controlled under new ECCNs 6B619, 6D619 and 6E619, as proposed by this rule.

This rule is one in a series of proposed rules describing how various types of articles that the President determines no longer warrant control on the USML, as part of the Administration’s Export Control Reform Initiative, would be controlled on the CCL in accordance with the requirements of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

This proposed rule is being published by the BIS in in conjunction with a proposed rule from the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, which would amend the list of articles controlled by USML Categories XIV and XVIII. The citations in this BIS proposed rule to USML Categories XIV and XVIII reflect the proposed amendments contained in the Department of State’s rule. The revisions proposed by BIS in this rule are part of Commerce’s retrospective regulatory review plan under Executive Order (E.O.) 13563 completed in August 2011.

In conjunction with the above publication, on June 17, 2015, the Department of State also published in the Federal Register a proposed rule [Public Notice: 9166] to amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to revise Categories XIV (toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment) and XVIII (directed energy weapons) of the USML to describe more precisely the articles warranting control on the USML. The revisions contained in the rule are part of the Department of State’s retrospective plan under E.O. 13563 completed on August 17, 2011. The Department of State’s full plan can be accessed here.

The proposed rule revises USML Category XIV, covering toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment, and USML Category XVII, covering directed energy weapons. The revisions are proposed in order to advance the national security objectives of greater interoperability with U.S. allies, enhancing the defense industrial base, and permitting the U.S. government to focus its resources on transactions of greater concern. Additionally, the revisions are intended to more accurately describe the articles within the subject categories, in order to establish a “bright line” between the USML and the CCL for the control of these articles.

See the BIS and State notices for the specific proposals. Comments on both proposals must be received by August 17, 2015.

US - BIS Implements the Australia Group (AG) November 2013 Intersessional Decisions

On June 16, 2015, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. 141229999-4999-01] to amend the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement the recommendations presented at the November 2013 Australia Group (AG) intersessional implementation meeting and later adopted pursuant to the AG silent approval procedure. Specifically, the rule amends the Commerce Control List (CCL) entry in the EAR that controls certain human and zoonotic pathogens and toxins, and removes the CCL entry that controls certain animal pathogens to reflect the merger of two AG common control lists based on recommendations presented at the AG intersessional implementation meeting. As a result of these recommendations, the AG “List of Animal Pathogens for Export Control” was merged with the AG “List of Biological Agents for Export Control,” creating a single AG common control list for these items (i.e., the AG “List of Human and Animal Pathogens and Toxins for Export Control”). The scope of the controls on these human and animal pathogens and toxins was not affected by the merger of the two lists into a single AG common control list. This rule also makes conforming amendments to other provisions in the EAR to reflect these changes.

In addition, the rule amends the CCL entry that controls chemical manufacturing facilities and equipment to reflect changes to the AG “Control List of Dual-Use Chemical Manufacturing Facilities and Equipment and Related Technology and Software,” based on the November 2013 AG intersessional recommendation to revise controls on certain valves, casings (valve bodies) designed for such valves, and preformed casing liners designed for such valves. The rule also amends this CCL entry to add a Technical Note clarifying how the terms “multi-seal” and “sealless” are used with respect to the controls on pumps. In a change unrelated to any revisions to the AG common control lists or guidelines, this rule also amends this CCL entry to authorize the use of License Exception LVS for specified shipments.

This rule does not contain changes based on the understandings reached at the June 2014 AG Plenary meeting, because no amendments to the EAR were required as a result of these understandings.

Canada - Consultation regarding the possible addition of Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL)

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD) has posted notice of a Consultation regarding the possible addition of Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List (AFCCL), a list of countries that the Government of Canada has deemed it appropriate to permit the export of these items to and with which the Government of Canada has signed an intergovernmental defence, research, development and production arrangement. There are currently 39 countries listed on the AFCCL.

The Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) requires those who wish to export from Canada any items included on the Export Control List (ECL) to obtain, prior to shipment, an export permit (with exceptions for the export of certain controlled goods and technology to the United States). Applications to export controlled goods or technology are reviewed on a case-by-case basis to ensure that these exports are consistent with Canada’s foreign and defence policies.

The EIPA places very strict controls on the export of certain prohibited firearms, prohibited weapons and prohibited devices (as defined in the Criminal Code of Canada). Export permit applications for exports of such items are only considered for countries who are included on the AFCCL,

At this time, the Export Controls Division would like to invite stakeholders and the general public to provide their views regarding a possible regulatory amendment which could result in the addition of Ukraine to the AFCCL. The proposed regulation, if ultimately approved by the Governor in Council, would allow exporters of certain prohibited firearms, prohibited weapons and prohibited devices to submit permit applications for the export of these items to Ukraine. Please note that inclusion on the AFCCL does not guarantee that a permit will be issued for the export of these items, and that all applications will remain subject to the Government of Canada’s review process.

The information is required by July 11th, 2015.



US – Part of trade bill defeated in House of Representatives
On June 12, 2015, by a roll-call vote of 126-302 (Roll no. 361), the U.S. House of Representative failed to pass that portion of the trade act (title II) that would renew Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). A few minutes later, the House voted 219-211 (Roll no. 362) to concur in that portion of Senate amendment preceding title II (Trade Promotion Authority known as TPA or “fast track”). However, at this point it is not clear what will go forward, since the Senate passed both titles as a single bill – extending TAA and granting the President TPA. TPA is necessary for the administration to complete negotiations on the 12 nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Investment and Partnership agreement (TTIP) with the European Union. A motion by Speaker Boehner to reconsider the vote on Title II was postponed.
US - House passes trade preferences (AGOA, GSP, Haiti) bill

On June 11, 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives concurred in the Senate’s amendments to H.R. 1295, the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, by a vote of 397-32 (212 Republicans, and 185 Democrats voted in favor, 31 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted against) with amendment. The Bill extends the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) from September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2025 and enhances many of its provisions. In addition, the Bill retroactively extends the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program from July 31, 2013 to December 31, 2017. Requests for reliquidation must be filed within 180 days after enactment of the law. Refunds are to be paid without interest within 90 days of the liquidation or reliquidation. The bill also extends the preferential duty treatment programs for Haiti through 2025.

Amendments are made to the Chapter 62 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States with respect to recreational performance outerwear and to Chapter 64 with respect to protective active footwear.

To fund the programs, the customs user fees in 19 U.S.C. 58c(j)(3)(A) are extended to July 7, 2025 and the merchandise processing fee is extended until June 30, 2025 plus there are adjustments to when certain corporate tax payments are made and certain penalties under the Internal Revenue Code are increased. The Medicare sequester is eliminated.

The next step is for the Senate and House to resolve the funding differences.

New biosecurity levy rates from 1 July 2015

The biosecurity system entry levy is charged by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for security screening of imported goods. New levy rates come into force on 1 July 2015 and these are set out in the Biosecurity (System Entry Levy) Amendment Order 2015. The rates are summarised as follows:

Fee

New rates from 1 July 2015

Biosecurity system entry levy on import entries

NZ$17.37 ($19.98 including GST)

Biosecurity system entry levy on inward cargo reports (air and sea)

NZ$13.15 ($15.12 including GST)

The entry levy is payable on every entry on which an import entry transaction fee is payable. The inward cargo reports levy is payable on the submission of the Inward Cargo Reports.

Customs collects the fees on behalf of MPI at the same time as the Customs charges, ie, the import entry transaction fee (IETF) and the inward cargo transaction fees. There has been no change to the IETF but the increase in the biosecurity system entry levy brings the total fees for processing an import entry to NZ$49.24 (GST included).

Further information is available from MPI.

(Note: some rates increase while others decrease). Alcohol products removed from a licensed manufacturing area or imported after midnight on 30 June 2015 will be subject to the new rates.

New Zealand - Alcohol Excise and Levy changes from 1 July 2015

The annual adjustment to the excise and excise-equivalent duty rates on alcoholic beverages will take place on 1 July 2015. The annual adjustment is based on movements in the consumer prices index less credit services subgroup over the 12-month period to 31 March 2015. The new rates are those set out in the Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Alcoholic Beverages Indexation) Amendment Order 2015. The rates (in New Zealand dollars) are summarised as:

Current excise rate to 30 June 2015

New excise rate from 1 July 2015

42.401 cents per litre

42.472 cents per litre

$28.273 per litre of alcohol

$28.320 per litre of alcohol

$2.2617 per litre

$2.2655 per litre

$2.8273 per litre

$2.8320 per litre

$51.493 per litre of alcohol

$51.579 per litre of alcohol

Alcohol products removed from a licensed manufacturing area or imported after midnight on 30 June 2015 will be subject to the new rates. For further information see the Types of duties, fees & charges section.

The annual adjustment to the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) levy rates on alcoholic beverages will take place on 1 July 2015. The new rates are those set out in the New Zealand Public Health and Disability (Health Promotion Agency Levy) Order 2015. The new HPA rates (in New Zealand currency) are:

Current HPA rates to 30 June 2015

New HPA rates from 1 July 2015

0.5658 cents per litre

0.5628 cents per litre

1.6553 cents per litre

1.6590 cents per litre

3.0177 cents per litre

3.0015 cents per litre

3.7721 cents per litre

3.7519 cents per litre

6.8297 cents per litre

6.9674 cents per litre

14.5258 cents per litre

14.4058 cents per litre


(Note: some rates increase while others decrease). Alcohol products removed from a licensed manufacturing area or imported after midnight on 30 June 2015 will be subject to the new rates.

New Zealand - AD/CVD regime: Introducing an automatic termination period in conjunction with a bounded public interest test

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is consulting on introducing an automatic termination period (ATP) into the anti-dumping regime, in addition to a bounded public interest test. As part of the consultation process, MBIE invites submissions from interested parties on a supplementary discussion paper titled “Introducing a Bounded Public Interest Test and Automatic Termination Period into the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duties Regime”.

This supplementary discussion paper proposes introducing an automatic termination period (ATP), in addition to a bounded public interest test, into the anti-dumping and countervailing duties regime. A public interest test would allow competition and consumer welfare elements to be considered before an anti-dumping or countervailing duty is imposed. An ATP would provide for the automatic termination of a duty after a set period of time has elapsed.

Together, the above two measures will introduce competition and consumer welfare elements when a decision is made to impose duties and encourage domestic industry to use the limited period when duties are in place to adjust to expected future competition from dumped goods.

This supplementary discussion paper invites you to comment on the possible introduction of an ATP, to be introduced in addition to a bounded public interest test, into the anti-dumping and countervailing duties regime. The discussion paper also invites your feedback on two possible options on the design of a potential ATP. This discussion paper is likely to be of interest to importing firms, domestic producers, consumer representatives, distributors, retailers, and other firms that operate throughout the distribution/selling chain.

Last date for submission is 26 June 2015. Submissions may be made electronically (preferred) or by post. Electronic submissions should be in Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word or compatible format and sent as an attachment to: traderem mbie.govt.nz.

US - NRC revises transportation safety requirements

On June 12, 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published in the Federal Register a final rule [NRC–2008–0198] that amends its regulations for the packaging and transportation of radioactive material. These amendments make conforming changes to the NRC’s regulations based on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 2009 standards for the international transportation of radioactive material and maintain consistency with the DOT’s regulations. The changes were made in consultation with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In addition, these amendments re-establish restrictions on materials that qualify for the fissile material exemption, clarify requirements, update administrative procedures, and make editorial changes.

This rule is effective July 13, 2015. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the regulation is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of July 13, 2015.

US - President extends national emergency with respect to Belarus

On June 12,2015, the Federal Register published the President’s Notice of June 10, 2015—Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to the Actions and Policies of Certain Members of the Government of Belarus and Other Persons to Undermine Belarus’s Democratic Processes or Institutions, which extends for an additional year the national emergency first declared in Executive Order (EO) 13405 of June 16, 2006.

The EO was declared to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons to undermine Belarus’s democratic processes or institutions, manifested in the fundamentally undemocratic March 2006 elections, to commit human rights abuses related to political repression, including detentions and disappearances, and to engage in public corruption, including by diverting or misusing Belarusian public assets or by misusing public authority. The national emergency is being extended for an additional year because The actions and policies of certain members of the Government of Belarus and other persons continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.

Morocco - Safeguard investigation on paper roll and paper ream launched

The WTO announced that on 10 June 2015, Morocco notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 10 June 2015 a safeguard investigation on paper roll and paper ream.

In the notification, Morocco indicated as follows (original text in French):

• All interested parties have a period of 30 days from the date of initiation of the investigation to come forward as an interested party to make comments on that investigation, contacting the Ministry by fax or e-mail

The contact point is as follows:

Ministère Délégué auprès du Ministre de l’Industrie, du Commerce, de l’Investissement et de l’Économie Numérique chargé du Commerce Extérieur
Direction de la Politique des Échanges Commerciaux / Division de la Défense Commerciale
Parcelle 14, Business center, aile nord bd Riad, Hay Riad, PB 610, Rabat Chellah, Maroc.
TEL : (212) 537 70.18.46 Fax: (212) 537.72.71.50
E-mail: ddc mce.gov.ma

Further information is available in G/SG/N/6/MAR/9.

A safeguard investigation seeks to determine whether increased imports of a product are causing, or is threatening to cause, serious injury to a domestic industry. During a safeguard investigation, importers, exporters and other interested parties may present evidence and views and respond to the presentations of other parties. A WTO member may take a safeguard action (i.e. restrict imports of a product temporarily) only if the increased imports of the product are found to be causing, or threatening to cause, serious injury.

US - FSIS publishes notice on international standard-setting activities
On June 11, 2015, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published in the Federal Register a notice [Docket No. FSIS–2015–0010] that informs the public of the sanitary and phytosanitary standard-setting activities of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), in accordance with section 491 of the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, as amended, and the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. The notice also provides a list of other standard-setting activities of Codex, including commodity standards, guidelines, codes of practice, and revised texts. The notice, which covers Codex activities during the time periods from June 1, 2014, to May 31, 2015, and June 1, 2015, to May 31, 2016, seeks comments on standards under consideration and recommendations for new standards. FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on the notice.
US – BIS posts FAQs on intrusion and surveillance items
The Bureau of Industry and Security has recently posted FAQs on Intrusion and Surveillance Items to provide guidance on the proposed new controls that were published in the Federal Register (80 Fed. Reg. 28853) on May 20, 2015 to implement the agreements reached with regard to systems, equipment or components specially designed for the generation, operation or delivery of, or communication with, intrusion software at the December 2013 Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) Plenary meeting.
S. Korea – S. Korean government asks National Assembly to approve three FTAs

On 8 June 2015, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced that the South Korean government submitted three bills to the National Assembly for approval on the recently signed bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with China, Vietnam and New Zealand.

The government will make its best efforts to put the FTAs with these countries into effect as soon as possible to realize their benefits, the MOTIE’s Deputy Trade Minister Woo Taehee said in a press briefing.

S. Korea/China – South Korea and China formally sign FTA
On 1 June 2015, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced The Republic of Korea (ROK) and China formally signed a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) in Seoul today, opening a new era of their future partnership. The FTA started in May 2012. Both countries agree that in addition to promoting bilateral trade and investment, the FTA will serve as a platform to pursue cooperation for new growth engines in all directions between the governments and companies of both countries. The ROK government will submit a bill to the National Assembly for approval of the signed FTA and carry out its implementation as soon as possible in order to quickly bring its benefits to the country’s people and companies. The FTA will go into effect 60 days after both countries notify each other in writing of the completion of their local procedures for the implementation or on a set date agreed upon by both parties.
US and South Africa issue Joint Statement on agricultural trade

On June 5, 2015, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) issued a press release which said that the Governments of the United States and South Africa had issued the following Joint Statement:

U.S. and South Africa industry and government officials met in Paris for two days of talks on agricultural and broader trade matters.

U.S. and South African government officials and industries met in Paris on June 4 and 5 to address outstanding agricultural trade issues related to South Africa’s AGOA eligibility.

The United States and South Africa are pleased to announce that in joint meetings, the two industries have agreed on the framework to provide for renewed market access for U.S. bone-in chicken into the South African market. The Governments also agreed to a firm set of actions this month to resolve the remaining sanitary issues related to poultry, pork, and beef.

The framework provides for the return of exports to South Africa of U.S. bone-in chicken after the two governments complete necessary implementation steps. The South African government will implement the framework following a public consultation process.

While both sides recognize it may take some time for the South African government to complete its regulatory process, both sides are committed to expedite processes and resume shipments of U.S. chicken as quickly as possible. Both Governments and industries have committed to further engagements on development issues that will enhance production in South Africa as well as participation of Historically Disadvantaged Individuals (HDIs) into the poultry industry.

The South African delegation was led by Ambassador Faizel Ismail and included senior officials of the Departments of Trade and Industry and the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The South African Poultry Association CEO Kevin Lovell was joined by South African poultry producers. The U.S. delegation was led by U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Patrick H. Gaspard, accompanied by senior officials from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mike Brown, President of the National Chicken Council, and Jim Sumner, President of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council represented the U.S. industry.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Rob Davies who was in Paris met with the delegations. Minister stated that “the framework agreed by the two industries facilitates South Africa’s continued participation in AGOA and is a commendable effort by the poultry industry in the interest of the South African economy.”

Ambassador Gaspard stated, “The Paris meetings made significant progress. The United States and South Africa can work together to address trade issues, demonstrating that U.S. trade tools can effectively deliver results for the United States. I am happy with the progress towards a mutually agreed solution that we made, and look forward to our working together to resolve bilateral trade problems.”

This agreement will allow the two governments to set a positive path forward for the countries’ trade and investment relationship building two-way U.S.-South Africa trade, including under AGOA, and using tools such as the U.S.-South Africa Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to address the outstanding issues.

WTO - Government Procurement Agreement: Australia seeks to join, status of other country ratifications and accessions

On 3 June 2015, the WTO announced that Australia has formally launched its bid to join the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), underlining its commitment to work towards timely accession to the pact. The announcement was made at a 3 June meeting of the Committee on Government Procurement where progress was also reported on the accession bids of several pending applicants.

Australia said it planned to submit an initial market access offer for GPA accession within the coming months, which will trigger the negotiations on its entry terms.
***
At the same meeting, parties to the GPA agreed to accept the requests from Costa Rica and Thailand for observer status in the committee. Thirty-one WTO members now hold observer status; 12 of these observers are negotiating accession to the GPA, with two — Montenegro and New Zealand — having already completed their accession talks.
***

Pending ratifications

Montenegro told the committee that its domestic ratification process for the GPA has now been successfully concluded. Montenegro said it expected to submit the GPA instrument of acceptance to the WTO in the coming days. The committee decided in October 2014 to accept Montenegro as a party to the GPA and gave it six months to deposit its instrument of accession, a deadline which was later extended until 29 June 2015.

New Zealand also told the committee that its parliament has approved the GPA and that the domestic ratification process was now being finalized, with the country on track to deposit its instrument of acceptance by the 29 July deadline. New Zealand was also accepted as a party to the GPA last October.

Separately, Armenia notified the committee that it has ratified the revised GPA, which came into force in April 2014. The Republic of Korea and Switzerland are the only two current parties to the GPA that have not yet ratified the revised agreement; Korea said it was still awaiting a review of the agreement by its constitutional court, which it described as a procedural step, while Switzerland noted that ratification was linked to changes in its domestic procurement rules which still required review at both the federal and sub-federal levels.

Pending accessions

• Ukraine (submitted draft final offer on 26 May)
• Tajikistan
• Moldova
• China (5th revised GPA accession offer)
• Kyrgyz Republic (delayed due to the recent resignation of its government and its accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU))

CBP makes changes to via waiver program and ESTA fees
On June 8, 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket Nos. USCBP–2008–003 and USCBP–2010–0025; CBP Dec. No. 15–08] that adopts, with one substantive change, interim amendments to DHS regulations published in the Federal Register on June 9, 2008 and August 9, 2010 regarding the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is the online system through which nonimmigrant aliens intending to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must obtain a travel authorization in advance of travel to the United States. The June 9, 2008 interim final rule established ESTA and set the requirements for use for travel through air and sea ports of entry. The August 9, 2010 interim final rule established the fee for ESTA. The Federal Register document addresses comments received in response to both rules and some operational modifications affecting VWP applicants and travelers since the publication of the interim rules. The rule is effective on July 8, 2015.
US - C-TPAT Portal 2.0 Phase II with exporter applications now “live”

On June 2, 2015, CBP announced through CSMS# 15-000318 that C-TPAT Portal 2.0 Phase II was now live.

Portal 2.0 Phase II includes enhancements to the account management tool, as well as a new format for the Security Profile, which will allow C-TPAT Partners with multiple accounts to potentially manage these accounts jointly in the future. The improvement corrects many of the error messages and system issues that users experienced in Portal 2.0 Phase I. The Portal 2.0 Phase II enhancement introduces the Exporter application and allows interested companies to complete the Exporter application within the C-TPAT Portal.

As a benefit, those importers who have previously signed the Export Agreement have automatically had their C-TPAT Security Model Expanded to include the Exporter minimum security criteria that now require responses, as well as other data fields unique to Exporters that must be completed. Companies that desire to initiate a brand new Security Model application to C-TPAT as an Exporter may also apply.

Importers that have not previously chosen to sign the Export Agreement will be able to Expand their Security Model upon the next software release, in mid-June.

Check www.cbp.gov/CTPAT for instructions to complete annual reviews, and training materials related to common C-TPAT processes.

As always, Partners should initially contact their assigned Supply Chain Security Specialist (SCSS) with any questions. If your SCSS is not available, you may also contact C-TPAT management for policy related questions at your assigned field office via the following addresses:

• Buffalo, NY: ctpatfieldofficebuffalo cbp.dhs.gov
• Houston, TX: ctpatfieldofficehouston cbp.dhs.gov
• Los Angeles, CA: ctpatfieldofficelosangeles cbp.dhs.gov
• Miami, FL: ctpatfieldofficemiami cbp.dhs.gov
• New York, NY: ctpatfieldofficenewyork cbp.dhs.gov
• Newark, NJ: c-tpatfieldoffice-newark cbp.dhs.gov

US - FDA seeks comments on its voluntary qualified importer program and draft guidance

On June 5, 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published in the Federal Register a notice [Docket No. FDA–2011–N–0144] announcing the availability of a draft guidance for industry on the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) for importers of human or animal food. The draft guidance describes VQIP, which provides for expedited review and importation of food offered for importation by importers who voluntarily agree to participate in the program. The draft guidance describes the eligibility criteria for, and benefits of, participation in VQIP. The draft guidance also provides information on submitting an application for VQIP participation, obtaining a facility certification for the foreign supplier of a food imported under VQIP, the VQIP user fee, conditions that might result in the revocation of VQIP eligibility, and criteria for reinstatement of eligibility. The FDA is issuing the draft guidance in accordance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

Section 302 of FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) amended the FD&C Act by adding new section 806, Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (21 U.S.C. 384b). Section 806(a)(1) of the FD&C Act directs FDA to establish this voluntary program for the expedited review and importation of food, and to establish a process for the issuance of a facility certification to accompany food offered for importation by importers participating in VQIP. Section 806(a)(2) directs FDA to issue a guidance document related to participation in, revocation of such participation in, reinstatement in, and compliance with VQIP.

When this program begins, the FDA encourages food importers with robust supplier verification programs to apply for participation in VQIP. It believes that the benefits of VQIP participation, including expedited entry and reduced sampling by FDA, will be of substantial value to importers. The FDA also anticipates that VQIP will benefit the public health by incentivizing the adoption of robust supplier verification programs and by allowing FDA to focus its resources on food shipments that pose a higher risk to public health and will facilitate risk based admissibility practices.

The FDA anticipates that VQIP application review will need to be limited in the program’s first year of operation due to the demands on FDA resources necessitated by the initial establishment of the program and review of applications. For the purpose of calculating the fee, the FDA has estimated that it would receive 200 notices of intent to participate and be able to review 200 applications in the first year. However, depending on the amount of resources needed in initiating the program, it might be possible that it will be able to review fewer or more than 200 applications in the first year. Applications will be reviewed in the order that they are submitted. The FDA requests comment on this potential limitation on participation in the initial year of VQIP.

Although interested parties may comment on any guidance at any time (21 C.F.R. 10.115(g)(5)), to ensure that the FDA considers your comments on the draft guidance before it completes a final version of the guidance, submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by August 19, 2015. Submit either electronic or written comments on the proposed collection of information by August 4, 2015.

Canada and Mexico issue statement on U.S. Country of Origin Labelling

On June 4, 2015, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada announced that the Hon. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, and the Hon. Gerry Ritz, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, jointly with Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, and Enrique Martínez y Martínez, Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture, issued the following statement on the two countries’ next steps at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the United States’ country of origin labelling (COOL) measure:

On May 18, 2015, the WTO once again confirmed Canada and Mexico’s long-standing position that the United States’ mandatory COOL requirements for beef and pork are discriminatory and are a violation of the United States’ international trade obligations.

The amended COOL measure, which causes Canadian and Mexican livestock and meat to be segregated from those of U.S. origin, is damaging to North America’s supply chain and is harmful to producers and processors in all three countries.

In light of the WTO’s final decision and due to the fact that this blatantly protectionist measure remains in place, our governments today are asking the WTO for a special Dispute Settlement Body meeting to request retaliation rights against the United States, to take place on June 17.

Canada will request authorization from the WTO to impose over C$3 billion in retaliatory measures against the U.S., while Mexico will seek authorization for over US$653 million.

We continue to call on the United States to repeal COOL legislation for beef and pork and comply with its international obligations.

The Canadian and Mexican governments will continue to work closely to resolve this important trade issue with the United States in order to defend our farmers and ranchers and maintain jobs and economic prosperity throughout North America.

New Zealand - Ban on waste tyre exports to China and Vietnam

On 3 June 2015, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) advised that the export of waste (end of life) tyres to China and Vietnam is banned. Used tyres being exported for re-use on vehicles are not affected by this ban.

This prohibition on export to these two destinations has arisen due to both countries declaring waste tyres to be hazardous waste and banning their importation. The Basel Convention controls the movement of hazardous waste between countries, and the disposal or recycling of hazardous waste. Under this convention, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is unable to issue permits to export waste tyres to China and Vietnam. Further information can be found here on the EPA website. The Vietnamese Government has granted an exemption for the import of tyres classified as hazardous waste to one specific plant until the end of 2015. Tyres may not be regarded as hazardous waste if they are exported to this plant that has an exemption for scrap material for use (or recovery) as a secondary material for industrial production. In this case, no permit for export of hazardous waste is required from the EPA.

New Zealand - Motor Spirits: Excise and Levy changes on 1 July 2015

Increase in excise duties of 3 cents: The excise and excise-equivalent duties on motor spirits will increase by 3 cents from 56.524 cents to 59.524 cents on 1 July 2015. The Customs and Excise (Budget Measures – Motor Spirits) Amendment Act 2013 provides for this increase in 2015 and is the last of the three increases. Motor spirits removed from a licensed manufacturing area or imported after midnight on 30 June 2014 will be subject to the new rates. Revenue from the excise on motor spirits goes to the National Land Transport Fund.

More information is available from the Ministry of Transport.

Decrease in the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) levy of 3 cents: The ACC levy on motor spirits will decrease by 3 cents from 9.9 cents to 6.9 cents on 1 July 2015. The Accident Compensation (Motor Vehicle Account Levies) Regulations 2015 provides for this 3 cents decrease. Motor spirits removed from a licensed manufacturing area or imported after midnight on 30 June 2014 will be subject to the new rate.
More information is available from ACC.

New Zealand - Customs and Excise (Objectionable Publications) Amendment Bill
The Customs and Excise (Objectionable Materials) Amendment Act 2015 increased the maximum penalty from 5 years to 10 years imprisonment for knowingly importing, exporting, transporting, shipping, an objectionable publication; or conspiring to remove an objectionable publication from a Customs controlled area.
US – NMFS/NOAA announces test of ITDS

On June 5, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing a pilot test of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) involving the electronic submission of forms and/or data, related to importations of fish products regulated by NMFS, using the Partner Government Agency (PGA) Message Set and Document Imaging System (DIS) components of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and NMFS have developed a pilot plan to test and assess the electronic transmission of import data for tuna, swordfish and toothfish.

The pilot test will involve using the ACE, the NMFS PGA Message Set, the DIS and the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) to transmit the data required for admissibility determinations for entries of tuna, swordfish and toothfish. ABI is the electronic data interchange that enables participants to file electronically required import data with CBP and transfers that data into ACE. Initially, under this test, NMFS PGA Message Set data may be submitted only for formal and informal consumption entries (entry types 01 and 11), filed at certain ports.

The test will commence after July 1, 2015 and will continue until concluded by publication of a notice in the Federal Register ending the test. Participants should consult the web site to determine which ports are operational for the test and the date that they become operational. Comments will be accepted through the duration of the test.

State publishes information on temporary Iran sanctions relief

On June 5, 2015, the Department of State published in the Federal Register a notice [Public Notice: 9163] regarding the provision of certain temporary and limited sanctions relief in order to implement the Joint Plan of Action of November 24, 2013, between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as extended through June 30, 2015.

On November 24, 2013, the United States and its partners in the P5+1 – France, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and Germany – reached an initial understanding with Iran, outlined in a Joint Plan of Action (JPOA),that halts progress on its nuclear program and rolls it back in key respects. In return, the P5+1 committed to provide limited, temporary, and targeted sanctions relief to Iran.

The JPOA was renewed by mutual consent of the P5+1 and Iran on July 19, 2014, and again on November 24, 2014, extending the temporary sanctions relief provided under the JPOA to cover the period beginning on November 24, 2014, and ending June 30, 2015 (the Extended JPOA Period), in order to continue negotiations aimed at achieving a long-term comprehensive solution to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.

On April 2, 2015, the P5+1 and Iran reached an understanding on the parameters of a “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).” While these parameters do not relieve, suspend, or terminate any additional sanctions for Iran, they do reflect the significant progress that has been made towards reaching a final deal with Iran that will address its nuclear program in a way that satisfies the international community. In order to continue to facilitate progress in negotiating a comprehensive deal, and to the extent required to continue implementing the sanctions relief called for in the JPOA, as extended, the Secretary has exercised waivers of certain sanctions.

The Notice outlines the U.S. government actions taken to continue implementing the sanctions relief aspects of the JPOA, as extended.

The effective dates of these waiver actions are as described in the determinations set forth in the Federal Register notice.

US - BIS and DDTC propose revisions to EAR and ITAR definitions

On June 3, 2015, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register a proposed rule [Docket No. 141016858–5228–01] that would revise the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to include the definitions of “technology,” “required,” “peculiarly responsible,” “proscribed person,” “published,” results of “fundamental research,” “export,” “reexport,” “release,” “transfer,” and “transfer (in-country)” to enhance clarity and consistency with terms also found on the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which is administered by the Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). This rulemaking also proposes amendments to the Scope part of the EAR to update and clarify application of controls to electronically transmitted and stored technology and software. DDTC is concurrently publishing comparable proposed amendments to the ITAR’s definitions of “technical data,” “required,” “peculiarly responsible,” “public domain,” results of “fundamental research,” “export,” “reexport,” “release,” and “retransfer” for the same reasons. Finally, this rulemaking proposes conforming changes to related provisions. This proposed rule is part of the Administration’s Export Control Reform Initiative. The Initiative will enhance U.S. national and economic security, facilitate compliance with export controls, update the controls, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on U.S. exporters.

On June 3, 2015, the Department of State also published in the Federal Register a proposed rule [Public Notice 9149] that would amend the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to update the definitions of “defense article,” “defense services,” “technical data,” “public domain,” “export,” and “reexport or retransfer” in order to clarify the scope of activities and information that are covered within these definitions and harmonize the definitions with the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), to the extent appropriate. Additionally, the Department proposes to create definitions of “required,” “technical data that arises during, or results from, fundamental research,” “release,” “retransfer,” and “activities that are not exports, reexports, or retransfers” in order to clarify and support the interpretation of the revised definitions that are proposed in this rulemaking. The Department proposes to create new sections detailing the scope of licenses, unauthorized releases of information, and the “release” of secured information, and revises the sections on “exports” of “technical data” to U.S. persons abroad. Finally, the Department proposes to address the electronic transmission and storage of unclassified “technical data” via foreign communications infrastructure. This rulemaking proposes that the electronic transmission of unclassified “technical data” abroad is not an “export,” provided that the data is sufficiently secured to prevent access by foreign persons. Additionally, this proposed rule would allow for the electronic storage of unclassified “technical data” abroad, provided that the data is secured to prevent access by parties unauthorized to access such data. The revisions contained in this proposed rule are part of the Department of State’s retrospective plan under Executive Order 13563 first submitted on August 17, 2011.

BIS and the Department of State will accept comments on these proposed rules until August 3, 2015.

US - State removes Cuba from list of State Sponsors of Terrorism

On May 29, 2015, the Department of state announced that the 45-day Congressional pre-notification period has expired, and the Secretary of State has made the final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, effective May 29, 2015. State said that the rescission of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism reflects its assessment that Cuba meets the statutory criteria for rescission. While the United States has significant concerns and disagreements with a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions, these fall outside the criteria relevant to the rescission of a State Sponsor of Terrorism designation.

In December 2014, the President instructed the Secretary of State to immediately launch a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and provide a report to him within six months regarding Cuba’s support for international terrorism. On April 8, 2015, the Secretary of State completed that review and recommended to the President that Cuba no longer be designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

Accordingly, on April 14, the President submitted to Congress the statutorily required report indicating the Administration’s intent to rescind Cuba’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, including the certification that Cuba has not provided any support for international terrorism during the previous six-months; and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future. The 45-day Congressional pre-notification period has expired, and the Secretary of State has made the final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, effective today, May 29, 2015.



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Chair, NA International
Commercial Practice Group

Miguel Noyola
Partner, Chicago
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