WTO welcomes Afghanistan as 164th member
On 29 July 2016, the WTO announced that Afghanistan joined the WTO as its 164th member, after nearly 12 years of negotiating its accession terms. It has also formally accepted the WTO’s new Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Afghanistan is the ninth least-developed country (LDC) to accede to the WTO since the organization’s establishment in 1995. Afghanistan’s accession package was approved by the Working Party members on 11 November 2015 and by Ministers at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference on 17 December 2015. Afghanistan deposited the instrument of acceptance for its WTO Protocol of Accession on 29 June 2016, activating the 30 day countdown to membership.
US – USTR waives discriminatory purchasing requirements for Moldova
On July 29, 2016, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice that on September 21, 2015, the WTO Committee on Government Procurement approved the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA). The United States, which also is a party to the GPA, has agreed to waive discriminatory purchasing requirements for eligible products and suppliers of the Republic of Moldova beginning on July 14, 2016.
US – President continues national emergency with respect to Lebanon
On July 29, 2016, the Federal Register published Presidential Notice of July 27, 2016 - Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Lebanon which extends the national emergency for an additional year. The national emergency, first declared on August 1, 2007, by Executive Order 13441, is being extended because certain ongoing activities, such as continuing arms transfers to Hizballah that include increasingly sophisticated weapons systems, serve to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in Lebanon, and continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
US – ITA to clarify and update Trade Fair Certification Program
On July 29, 2016, the International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce), published in the Federal Register an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) [Docket No.: 160606489-6489-01]. Commerce is intending to update the Trade Fair Certification Program, which recognizes and endorses U.S. participation in selected, privately organized, foreign trade fairs, in the coming months. Proposed changes will be announced through the Federal Register and comments will be solicited and reviewed before a final rule is issued. This ANPRM solicits feedback on some of the concepts Commerce is considering for the update, and reiterates the requirements, procedures, and application review criteria of the current Trade Fair Certification Program, originally published April 30, 1993. The purpose of this document is to reiterate existing terms in the 1993 document in order to inform the public of proposed guidelines. The concepts being considered for updating the program can be found in the last section of the Supplementary Information section of the Federal Register document
UK – UK Export Control Joint Unit goes live

The Government’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review mandated the creation of a number of joint units to bring together resources and expertise from across Whitehall to deliver more effective ways of working. One of these, the Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU), began operating on Monday 18 July 2016. The ECJU brings together operational and policy expertise from the Department for International Trade’s Export Control Organisation (ECO), the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) to promote global security through strategic export controls and facilitate responsible exports.

What will this change mean for exporters?

The export licensing process, including issuing MOD Form 680, will remain unchanged. Exporters should continue to use the SPIRE online export licensing system. The decision to grant or refuse an export licence in any individual case has become the responsibility of the Secretary of State of the newly formed Department for International Trade. The Secretary of State for Defence continues to be responsible for the decision to grant or refuse an MOD Form 680.

Individual staff involved in the export licensing process across ECO, FCO and MOD will retain their existing email addresses and titles for the immediate future. Since 18 July however, all ECJU staff have been based at the Department for International Trade, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET. [Source: Notice to Exporters 2016/20: Export Control Joint Unit goes live.]

Madagascar ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement
The WTO reported that Madagascar has joined the growing majority of WTO members that have ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Mr Solofo Andrianjatovo Razafitrimo, Madagascar’s Minister-Counsellor and Chargé d’Affaires in Geneva, presented his country’s instrument of ratification to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 20 June 2016.
Moldova ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement
The WTO reported that the Republic of Moldova has ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Mr Octavian Calmîc, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy for the Republic of Moldova, presented his country’s instrument of ratification to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 24 June 2016
Saudi Arabia ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement
The WTO reported that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade, Ahmed Al-Hakbani, and the Kingdom’s WTO ambassador, Abdolazeez Al-Otaibi, presented their country’s TFA instrument of acceptance to DG Azevêdo on 28 July 2016.
Peru ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement
The WTO reported that Peru has ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA). Peru’s WTO ambassador Luis Enrique Chávez Basagoitia presented his country’s instrument of acceptance to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 27 July 2016.
US – CBP announces ACE Protest Module as sole electronic method
On July 28, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing that the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Protest Module will be the sole method authorized by the Commissioner CBP for filing electronic protests. This document also announces that CBP will no longer accept protests filed through the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) to the Automated Commercial System (ACS). On August 29, 2016, the effective date of this notice, ACE will replace ACS as the electronic data interchange system authorized for protest filing. This transition has no effect on filers who intend to submit their protest in paper form, as specified in 19 C.F.R. part 174.
US – Commerce and State revise CCL and USML (Categories XIV, XVIII)

On July 28, 2016, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Commerce, published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. 120105019–5755–01] that implements changes described in a proposed rule that BIS published on June 17, 2015. Specifically, the final rule describes how articles the President has determined 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) are now controlled under the Commerce Control List (CCL). The affected Category XIV articles consist primarily of dissemination, detection, and protection “equipment” and related articles, such as production and test “equipment,” and are controlled under new Export Control Classification Numbers (ECCNs) 1A607, 1B607, 1C607, 1D607, and 1E607, as added to the CCL by this final rule. The affected Category XVIII articles consist primarily of tooling, production “equipment,” test and evaluation “equipment,” test models, and related articles and are controlled under new ECCNs 6B619, 6D619 and 6E619, as added to the CCL by this final rule.

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

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

On the same date, the Department of State published in the Federal Register a final rule [Public Notice: 9466] that amends 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 U.S. Munitions List (USML) to describe more precisely the articles warranting control on the USML and to establish a “bright line” between the USML and the CCL for the control of these articles.. The revisions contained in this rule are part of the Department of State’s retrospective plan under E.O. 13563, completed on August 17, 2011.

Both agencies’ final rules are effective on December 31, 2016.

Argentina – AFIP revises postal/courier service regime for non-commercial imports

On 27 July 2016, the Federal Adm. of Public Revenues (AFIP) published in the Boletín Oficial de la República Argentina (the Official Gazette) General Resolution № 3916 of 25 July 2016, which revises the rules for sending non-commercial shipments via postal/courier providers. The revised rules apply to non-commercial shipments of up to 50kg valued at US$ 1,000 or less comprised of up to 3 units of the same kind of goods and comes into effect on 26 August 2016 and will apply to any shipments not yet delivered.

Under the revised regime, qualifying shipments will be exempt from intervention by the National Food Institute; regulations of the consumer protection agency; import licensing pursuant to Res. № 5/2015 (MP), as amended and supplemented; the identification of goods regime provided for in Res. № 2522/87 (ANA) and its amendments and restrictions and prohibitions of an economic nature. The exemptions may only be used five times per calendar year, per person. The consignee must notify the AFIP website electronically within 30 days of receipt.

Argentina – AFIP revises rules on international mail shipments

On 27 July 2016, the Federal Adm. of Public Revenues (AFIP) published in the Boletín Oficial de la República Argentina (the Official Gazette) General Resolution № 3915 of 25 July 2016, which establishes a new regime for international shipments via the official Postal Service. Under the new regime, subjects who receive shipments of goods from abroad, which entered the country through the Official Post must have CUIT, CUIL or CDI and Key Fiscal enabled for security level 3.

When the payment on 50% tariff on the value of the shipment is made, the recipient should submit to the Postal Service or, where appropriate, to the corresponding Customs service, the “Simplified Declaration of International Postal Shipments” and the record [or proof] of the payment. Payment will be made via Electronic Payment (VEP).

If applicable, prior to the release of the goods, the Customs Service will require a corrective affidavit adjusting the values to the verification conducted and additional payments made under the provisions of the preceding paragraph.

Shipments whose value does not exceed US$ 200 and 2 kilograms and are of the kind and quantity that is not presumed to have a commercial purpose, may use the door-to-door mode. The door-to-door mode involves a mailed notification with a tracking number and a requirement to pay the duties due electronically via the “Simplified Declaration of International Postal Items” within 24 hours or the number will be cancelled (although a new one can be generated after that date). Delivery will be made after payment is received in the system.

Books, printed matter and select documents determined to be such by the Customs Service using non-intrusive methods will be delivered under the door-to-door mode without the need to make the “Simplified Declaration of International Postal Ítems”.

The Resolution is effective 30 days after publication and will also apply to those shipments imported prior to the date of entry into force of this standard that have not yet been delivered.

US – ITC releases 2015 Year in Trade

On July 27, 2016, the U.S. International Trade Commission announced the release of The Year in Trade 2015 (USITC Publication No. 4627), its annual overview of developments regarding the administration of U.S. trade laws and trade agreements. The announcement said:

The USITC's The Year in Trade is one of the government's most comprehensive reports available regarding activities related to U.S. trade policies, agreements, and trade laws. This report is the 67th in a series of annual reports submitted to the U.S. Congress under section 163(c) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2213(c)) and its predecessor legislation.

The publication reviews U.S. international trade laws and actions under these laws, activities of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and developments regarding U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), FTA negotiations, and U.S. bilateral trade relations with major trading partners in 2015.

The Year in Trade 2015 covers all U.S. antidumping, countervailing duty, safeguard, intellectual property rights infringement, and section 301 cases active in 2015. In addition, the 2015 report also covers:

    • the operation of U.S. trade preference programs, including the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, including initiatives for Haiti;
    • WTO dispute settlement decisions and other significant activities in the WTO; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum;
    • negotiations regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, developments regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement and other U.S. FTAs already in effect; and
    • bilateral trade issues with major U.S. trading partners—the European Union, China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and Brazil.

The report also provides an overview of U.S. trade in goods and services during 2015. Statistical tables highlight U.S. bilateral trade with major trading partners and trade under U.S. trade preference programs and free trade agreements.

Turkey – Developments on the State of Emergency: New Executive Order Enters into Force

Recent Development

As noted in our previous blog on this topic, Turkey’s Council of Ministers was expected to issue an executive order outlining the implementation of a state of emergency. On Saturday, July 23, 2016, the Council of Ministers issued an executive order to take measures to reestablish public security (“Executive Order”). The scope of these measures is limited to restoring public security; as such, these measures were not implemented to regulate or impact the Turkish financial markets or economy. Considering the aim and the scope of these measures, we do not expect them to affect the business environment as a whole, save for the entities whose operations have been halted by the government for suspected terrorist associations.

On Sunday, July 24, 2016, the Prime Ministry issued a circular regarding the communication of the duties set out in the state of emergency regulations, and established a state of emergency communication council composed of ministers. According to the circular, the implementation of the state of emergency orders will be coordinated in the cities by the city governors.

What are the Measures?

Some of the measures listed under the Executive Order are:

    • Closing certain institutions and confiscating their properties: Certain institutions linked to the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (“FETO”) including foundations, schools, universities, associations, hospitals and unions have been closed, and their rights, receivables, assets and properties will be confiscated and transferred to the Treasury without their obligations being transferred. We recommend that you review the list of such entities in order to find out if you have a business relationship with them. The full list can be viewed here.
    • Extended term of custody: During the state of emergency, the term of custody can be extended for up to 30 days related to offenses (i) defined under the Law on Anti-Terrorism, (ii) against state security, (iii) against constitutional rules and order, (iv) against national defense, and (v) against state secrets and espionage as defined under the Turkish Criminal Code. Under the Turkish Criminal Code, the standard term of custody is 24 hours, and can be extended up to four days for crimes collectively committed by three or more persons. As the term of custody is extended only for certain crimes and conditions, it is highly unlikely for this to adversely affect the business environment.
    • Removal of judges: Judges that are found to be linked to the FETO will be removed from office. If you or your company is a party to a lawsuit that is being heard by one of these judges, it would be reasonable to expect certain delay in the proceedings caused by replacement of such judges.
    • Lease agreements and rights on property: Leases and rights on properties owned by the Treasury or public institutions, whose lessees and beneficiaries of rights on property are found to be linked to the FETO, can have their respective leases and rights unilaterally terminated by the owners of the relevant properties.
    • Limitations on attorney-client privilege: During the state of emergency, related to the offenses listed above only, the public prosecutor can order certain exceptions to the attorney-client privilege in communications between detainees and their lawyers. As such, communications can be recorded; communications can be held with the presence of an official; written documents between lawyers and detainees can be confiscated; and the length of communication can be limited. These measures do not affect attorney-client privileges in the ordinary course of business and will only apply to detainees in cases of particular circumstances, such as the endangerment of public security or that of the penal institution.

Conclusion

As expected, the primary focus of the measures is to eliminate threats against national security during the state of emergency. In line with the state of emergency’s objective and previous statements released by the government, the Executive Order is limited to the measures directly impacting public security and do not aim to change the day-to-day lives of individuals, nor the country’s financial markets, economy and business environment.

We will keep you posted should there be any further development with respect to other upcoming extraordinary measures.

This article was authored by Birturk Aydin and Ismail Esin who may be contacted for additional information.

US – USTR seeks comments on WTO dispute regarding recourse against China’s failure to bring its AD/CVD measures on U.S. broiler products into conformity with WTO agreements
On July 27, 2016, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a document providing notice [Dispute No. WTO/DS427] that on May 27, 2016, the United States requested the establishment of a dispute settlement panel under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization with the People’s Republic of China (China) concerning China’s continuing imposition of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on chicken broiler products from the United States. That request may be found at www.wto.org in a document designated as WT/DS427/11. USTR invites written comments from the public concerning the issues raised in this dispute. Although USTR will accept any comments received during the course of the dispute settlement proceedings, comments should be submitted on or before August 15, 2016, to be assured of timely consideration by USTR.
US – President delegates functions under the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

On July 27, 2016, the Federal Register published Executive Order 13733 - Delegation of Certain Authorities and Assignment of Certain Functions Under the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (the Act). The Executive Order delegates the following Presidential functions under the Act:

    • Section 2313A(b) of the Export Enhancement Act of 1988, as added by section 504 of the Act: Secretary of Commerce. The State and Federal Export Promotion Coordination Working Group established by the Secretary of Commerce under this section shall also coordinate with local and municipal governments representing regionally diverse areas.
    • Section 909(d) of the Act: Secretary of State, in consultation with other relevant Federal agencies.
    • Section 915(d) of the Act: Administrator USAID, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the USTR.
    • Section 915(e) of the Act: USTR, in consultation with the Secretary of State.

With respect to engagement on currency exchange rate and economic policies –

    • Prior to undertaking an enhanced analysis of a country pursuant to section 701(a)(2)(A)(ii) of the Act, the Secretary of the Treasury shall seek the views of the USTR on changes in trade restrictions in that country.
    • In exercising the functions under section 701(b)(2)(A) of the Act, the Secretary of the Treasury shall consult with the Secretary of State in making any determination that commencing enhanced bilateral engagement with a country would cause serious harm to the U.S. national security.
    • If the Secretary of the Treasury determines that a country has failed to adopt appropriate policies to correct the undervaluation and surpluses described in section 701(b)(1)(A) of the Act, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, the USTR, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Commerce, shall make a recommendation to the President.

The delegated authority and functions may be redelegated.

US – CBP announces technical and business webinars

On July 21, 2016, CBP announced in CSMS#16-000621 that CBP will be conducting a series of Post Release Technical Webinars for Software Developers and Business Webinars for trade filers and brokers. The webinars will focus on the technical/programming requirements and the business/policy requirements for Reconciliation, Drawback, Liquidation and Protest. You must register to participate in the webinars. The webinar schedule and appropriate registration link for each webinar is provided below. Please register at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions concerning these webinars please contact Christopher Mabelitini.

Post Release Software Developer Technical Webinars:

Post Release Business Webinars:

Mexico ratifies Trade Facilitation Agreement

The WTO announced that Mexico has ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in the latest signal of support for the landmark global deal. Mexico’s WTO ambassador Fernando De Mateo presented his country’s instrument of ratification to WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 26 July 2016.

Concluded at the WTO’s 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference, the TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.

The TFA will enter into force once two-thirds of the WTO membership has formally accepted the Agreement. With the acceptance by Mexico, the number of TFA ratifications now stands at 87, representing more than three-quarters of the ratifications needed to bring the Agreement into force.



Turkey - State of Emergency declared in Turkey

Recent Development

Turkey experienced an attempted coup by a faction of the military on the night of July 15, 2016. The coup was thwarted by civilian resistance and the intervention of the police forces. As a response to the coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a three-month state of emergency on the night of July 20, 2016. The state of emergency came into effect following the Council of Minsters’ approval, published in Turkey’s Official Gazette on July 21, 2016. Although the current state of emergency is set for three months, the Parliament can extend the state of emergency for periods of up to four months each, upon the Council of Ministers’ request.

What is a State of Emergency?

A state of emergency is a temporary system of rules granting the Council of Ministers certain extended authorities to restore rights and freedoms when public order is seriously disturbed due to violent events or when there are severe indications of widespread violence against democracy or fundamental human rights and freedoms. The state of emergency concept is a constitutional concept regulated by the Turkish Constitution. During a state of emergency, the Council of Ministers is entitled to issue executive orders (kanun hükmünde kararname) limiting certain rights and freedoms in order to re-establish public security and order, as well as to take certain extraordinary measures listed under the State Emergency Law No. 2935. Such executive orders have the same legal force as laws, and must be submitted to and approved by the Parliament; the primary aim of the executive orders is to expedite the legislative process. The declaration of a state of emergency does not revoke, change, or alter the implementation of any current legislation and does not alter the nature of the Turkish Republic as a state of law

Conclusion

As an extraordinary measure which has not been implemented in Turkey in over a decade, the declaration of a state of emergency following the attempted coup of July 15, 2016 was an expected precaution. The Council of Ministers, under the constitutionally granted authority, is expected to issue expedient and effective legislation for the elimination of threats to democracy. These legislative measures will also likely diminish present terrorism related security concerns in the country. Statements by President Erdoğan and governmental officers and ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, reflect the following on the state of emergency:

    • Its main purpose is to remove the threats presented by the attempted coup and mitigate its effects;
    • It will not impact the day-to-day lives of individuals, nor the economic and investment climate;
    • The government will not divert from the current financial market regulations, and the Turkish market will continue to operate in a strong and sound manner;
    • The government aims to keep the state of emergency as short as possible, and to terminate it within 30 to 45 days despite the three-month duration.

Based on the above statements, we understand that the governmental officials do not expect the state of emergency to have a negative impact on economic or social life in Turkey. We aim to provide you with a more detailed analysis in the coming days.

This post was authored by Birturk Aydin and Ismail Esin.

Lao PDR becomes 104th contracting party to Revised Kyoto Convention

The WCO has reported that on 16 July 2016, at the 127th/128th Sessions of the Customs Co-operation Council (the official name of the WCO), the Secretary General of the WCO Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, in his capacity as the depository of the Convention, took receipt of the instruments of accession of Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention).

Having entered into force on 3 February 2006, the Revised Kyoto Convention is a WCO legal instrument acceded by several countries as way to further promote legitimate trade and effective controls. It is regarded by the entire international Customs Community as a key blueprint for modern Customs in 21st Century, which complements countries’ efforts for ratification of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

Canada, provinces, territories reach internal trade agreement-in- principle

On July 22, 2016, the Government of Canada announced that an unprecedented agreement-in-principle to modernize Canada's internal trade framework was endorsed by premiers at the Council of the Federation. The agreement is the result of a collaborative effort among the Government of Canada, the provinces and the territories. A press release by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada said that in an increasingly global economy, Canada must have a free trade agreement that lowers barriers within the country. An open Canadian market creates well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it. It drives economic growth and provides consumers with more choice. It also enables Canadian businesses to be as competitive at home as they are abroad.

The Government of Canada has taken a lead role in ensuring that the new Canadian Free Trade Agreement will help grow the economy, create new opportunities for Canadian businesses and provide consumers with increased choice. This modern and ambitious agreement creates the right conditions for companies to turn ideas into innovations, get new products and services to market faster, and scale up their businesses more quickly and easily.

  • To respond to an issue that is important to Canadians, the premiers agreed to address alcohol in the agreement. This is the first-ever commitment by all parties to work on options to liberalize trade in alcoholic beverages, with a specific timetable and accountability to ministers.
  • Almost all federal departments and Crown corporations and most provincial and territorial government entities will be covered by the procurement rules of the agreement, making it easier for small and medium-sized companies to compete for business opportunities across Canada.
  • In a historic commitment, all parties have agreed to establish an ongoing process to bring down regulatory barriers and limit the creation of new barriers to trade in Canada. This will reduce the cost of doing business across Canada.
  • The agreement will contain stronger dispute resolution provisions to ensure that governments abide by its trade-liberalizing rules.
WTO launces enhanced e-GPA web portal

On 22 July 2016, the WTO announced that it has launched an enhanced version of its e-GPA web portal (version 2.0). This enhanced portal provides a single point of access to the market access information under the WTO’s revised Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), together with related information that the GPA parties are committed to provide. The portal serves as a market access information tool for governments, businesses and other interested parties. The announcement said --

The portal offers improved transparency and user-friendly accessibility to relevant government procurement information, and aims to better publicize the market access opportunities (worth up to US$ 1.7 trillion annually) available under the Agreement.

The new version of the portal incorporates the following new or enhanced features:

  • an Advanced Search tool — this new tool provides access to a number of advanced features. For example, it allows the user to search and filter the entire GPA coverage database with regard to particular parties, entities, goods and services (including construction services), using keywords to extract relevant information.
  • further analysis and reporting tools with regard to the GPA thresholds — these provide user-friendly access to the GPA thresholds both in special drawing rights (SDR) and national currencies. Access to parties' notifications of thresholds in national currencies via the site is made easy.
  • additional means for the user to access information on current procurement opportunities, applicable national legislation and more links to notifications to publication media provided by parties as set out in Appendices II, III and IV of the revised GPA.
  • a module to handle modifications to coverage — this enables the user to monitor changes in parties' coverage commitments arising from the modifications process under Article XIX, to compare different versions of coverage arising from this process, to undertake queries in the database and to generate reports. This module will also keep the e-GPA data on coverage up to date on a permanent basis, and will support parties in improving their efficiency in the administration of the Agreement

The e-GPA portal was developed by the WTO Secretariat with the support of the parties to the Agreement. It benefited from collaboration between the Intellectual Property, Government Procurement and Competition Division, the Information Technology Solutions Division and several other divisions of the Secretariat. It complements other initiatives in the Secretariat — notably the i-TIP project — aimed at creating an integrated, interactive database of trade measures across the Organization.

US – Commerce establishes Trade Finance Advisory Council
On July 25, 2016, the International Trade Administration (ITA) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing establishment of the U.S. Department of Commerce Trade Finance Advisory Council. This advisory committee will advise the Secretary on the development of strategies and programs that would help expand access to trade finance for U.S. exporters. The establishment of this federal advisory committee is necessary to provide input to the Secretary regarding the challenges faced by U.S. exporters in accessing capital, innovative solutions that can address these challenges, and recommendations on strategies that can expand access to finance and educate U.S. exporters on available resources. The notice also requests nominations for membership, which must be received on or before 5 p.m. EDT Monday, August 22, 2016.
US - ITA to implement recovery fee to support EU-US Privacy Shield
On July 22, 2016, the International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Department of Commerce, published in the Federal Register a notice of implementation of a cost recovery program fee with request for comments.[Docket No.: 160713610–6610–01]. ITA is implementing a cost recovery program fee to support the operation of the EU–U.S. Privacy Shield Framework (Privacy Shield), which will require that U.S. organizations pay an annual fee to ITA in order to participate in the Privacy Shield. The cost recovery program will support the administration and supervision of the Privacy Shield program and support the provision of including education and outreach. The Privacy Shield fee schedule will become effective on August 1, 2016, when ITA will begin accepting self-certifications. ITA also is providing the public with the opportunity to comment on the fee schedule. ITA will reassess the fee schedule after the first year of implementation and, in accordance with OMB Circular A–25, at least every two years thereafter. Comments must be received by August 22, 2016.
US - CBP extends ACAS pilot program
On July 22, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (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. The ACAS pilot 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. The ACAS program was originally announced in the Federal Register on October 24, 2012 as a six month pilot, but has been extended several times. The most recent notice extended the pilot period through July 26, 2016. CBP is extending the ACAS pilot program through July 26, 2017. Comments concerning any aspect of the announced test may be submitted at any time during the test period.
US - President extends the national emergency with respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations
On July 22, 2016, the Federal Register published the Presidential Notice of July 20, 2016—Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations which extends the national emergency for an additional year. The national emergency is being extended in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), 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.
US – CBP mandates use of ACE for certain entry types

The July 2016 ACE Monthly Trade Update reminds traders that on July 23, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border (CBP) will deploy and mandate additional entry types for electronic entry and entry summary filing in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). With this implementation, all Automated Broker Interface (ABI) filers will be required to submit their electronic transactions in ACE and no longer be able to use the Automated Commercial System (ACS) to file the following entry types:

02 - Consumption (Quota/Visa)

07 - Consumption (Antidumping/Countervailing Duty and Quota/Visa)

12 - Informal (Quota/Visa other than textiles)

21 - Warehouse

22 - Re-warehouse

31 - Warehouse Withdrawal (Consumption)

32 - Warehouse Withdrawal (Quota)

34 - Warehouse Withdrawal (Antidumping/Countervailing Duty)

38 - Warehouse Withdrawal (Antidumping/Countervailing Duty and Quota/Visa)

Entry types 06 ( Foreign Trade Zone) and 23 (Temporary Importation Bond) were previously mandated in ACE. However, filers were advised to continue filing these entry types with quota merchandise in ACS until July 23, 2016. With the July 23rd deployment, CBP will deploy system validations that will prevent the filing of ACE-mandated entry types in ACS.

This deployment will also bring CBP closer to the final stage delivery of core trade processing capabilities in ACE to complete full implementation of the “Single Window” by December 2016, as mandated by the President’s February 19, 2014, Execute Order 13659 – on streamlining the export/import process for America’s businesses.

For more information about this upcoming deployment in ACE, please review the “July 23rd Mandatory Date Information Notice” and “ACE Mandatory Use Dates”.

US – DHS publishes interim rule on petitions for rulemaking

On July 21, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published in the Federal Register an interim final rule [Docket No. DHS-2009-0009] adopting a process under which interested persons may petition DHS to issue, amend, or repeal a rule. The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requires that each agency give interested persons the right to petition the agency for the issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule (5 U.S.C. 553(e)). Such a petition is known as a “rulemaking petition.” DHS is adopting this rule to describe its procedures for receiving and responding to rulemaking petitions.

Two components of DHS have component-specific regulations governing rulemaking petitions. See 33 C.F.R. 1.05-20 (U.S. Coast Guard); 44 C.F.R. 1.17, 1.18 (Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)). This rule leaves those regulations in place. This rule, however, will cover petitions related to all other components of DHS. Accordingly, the procedures described in this rule are the exclusive procedures for submitting a rulemaking petition related to the programs and authorities of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (except for customs-revenue functions retained by the Department of the Treasury under sections 412 and 415 of the Homeland Security Act and Treasury Department Order No. 100-16), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) among other Department components. Under the rule, DHS will not accept rulemaking petitions delivered by courier.

The rule is effective August 22, 2016. Comments must be submitted on or before September 19, 2016.

US – HTS updated in AES to accept changes from Pres. Proc. 9466
The Bureau of Census has advised that effective immediately, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) tables have been updated in the Automated Export system (AES) to include the recent changes from Presidential Proclamation 9466 signed June 30, and effective July 1.

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

The Schedule B and HTS tables are available for download here. The current list of HTS codes that are not valid for AES is available here.
US – CBP creates National Jones Act Division of Enforcement (JADE)

In a Notice to the Port of New Orleans Trade Community dated July 15, 2016 (No. 16-013), the Area Port Director informed the trade that In order to present a uniformed approach on issues involving the Jones Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Office of Field Operations (OFO) announces the creation of the National Jones Act Division of Enforcement (JADE). The Notice stated that the Jones Act is the foundation of maritime policy of the United States and a vital tool for our nation's security and economy. The mission of the JADE will be to assist CBP and industry partners on issues concerning coastwise trade, with the goal of being a clearinghouse for all coastwise trade issues. All formal ruling requests will continue to be forwarded to Regulations and Rulings, Office of Trade. The JADE will be located within the New Orleans Field Office and will be staffed by a team of subject matter experts (SMEs) to assist industry partners with questions and concerns on issues involving coastwise trade. The JADE will work in partnership with industry stakeholders in the enforcement of the Jones Act, along with all other coastwise trade laws. As an advocate for coastwise trade, the JADE be available for outreach presentations to industry partners on the subject of coastwise trade.

Suspected violations of coastwise trade can be submitted through the e-Allegation portal. Industry Partners may contact JADE at jonesact cbp.dhs.gov with any questions or concerns regarding coastwise trade issues.

US - DTCC re-launches Company Visit Program

On July 15, 2016, the Office of Defense Trade Controls Compliance (DTCC) announced that it has relaunched its Company Visit Program (CVP). The Company Visit Program (CVP) entails visits by Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) officials to U.S. entities registered with DDTC as manufacturers, exporters, or brokers of defense articles and defense services, as well as others involved in ITAR-regulated activities, to include foreign companies and foreign governments. The CVP is administered by DTCC; however, representatives from DDTC’s Licensing and Policy offices, or other entities in the Department or elsewhere in the U.S. government, may also participate in the visits. An overview of the CVP is available in a PowerPoint. The following information is taken from DTCC’s questions and answers page:

The CVP has several purposes. First, the CVP ensures DTCC understands how compliance programs are implemented in accordance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Second, the program enables DDTC to gather information to support the Directorate’s development of regulatory policy and practice. Finally, DTCC uses site visits to glean, assess, and disseminate industry best practices, provide feedback to individual companies on their compliance programs, and share information on compliance programs industry-wide. Note that the CVP includes two (2) types of visits:

    1. CVP-Outreach ("CVP-O") is an extension of DDTC’s outreach activities, e.g., speaking at conferences. These visits are intended to be a learning exercise for both parties, and provide an opportunity to discuss challenges (such as adapting to changes associated with Export Control Reform) and offer suggestions or best practices. CVP-O site visits are unrelated to specific compliance matters. The purpose of the visit is to understand how companies implement ITAR compliance requirements, not to evaluate compliance failures or violations.
    2. CVP-Compliance ("CVP-C") visits are designed for DTCC oversight activities, for example as part of consent agreement monitoring. These visits may include a more in-depth look at a company’s compliance program.

The CVP-O and CVP-C type visits are neither audits nor inspections. Visits do not produce a grade or pass/fail assessment for internal or external use, and generally do not include review of transactional records. DDTC will request information from the company to gain a better understanding of their compliance program. CVP-C visits may require a more in-depth look at a company’s compliance program because the visits are focused on overseeing compliance matters already known to DTCC. DDTC may provide recommendations for improvements to a company's compliance program during both CVP-O and CVP-C type visits. If we make recommendations, it is an effort to offer assistance, help prevent violations and share best practices. The CVP is intended to serve as a learning tool for both parties. If the DDTC team discovers or learns of a violation during the visit, it will recommend that the company review the issue and submit a disclosure, if appropriate.

DDTC plans visits for each quarter based on other engagements requiring travel and available resources. Generally, DDTC aims to conduct between two and four CVP visits per quarter. In 2015, DTCC conducted eight company visits under CVP auspices; three of those visits were pursuant to consent agreement monitoring.

DTCC selects companies based on its CVP goals. DTCC considers a variety of factors when selecting companies to visit, including proximity to other activities DDTC is participating in, registration status, volume of licensed activity, experience conducting ITAR activities, nature of business, type and sensitivity of technology, geographic location, monitoring of an existing consent agreement, and value to ongoing work within the Directorate. Companies may also request a CVP, but the DDTC cannot guarantee that it will be selected.

    • Once a company is selected for a potential CVP visit, DTCC contacts the company. The company can elect not to participate in the visit. If the company would like to participate, DTCC will propose visit dates and begin planning with the company.
    • Once visit dates are finalized, DTCC sends the company a formal visit notification letter outlining the visit. DTCC may request pre-visit materials from the company for review and preparation purposes. Before the visit, DTCC will work with the company to finalize the agenda.
    • At the visit's opening, DTCC meets with senior management to explain the visit's purpose and the agenda. The company should provide an overview of its operations and export activity during opening discussions. Visits generally last one to two days, depending on the purpose, and occur on the company's premises in offices and conference rooms, and through tours of business operations within the facility (e.g., business development, contracts, procurement, design, manufacture, security, IT, personnel, and shipping).
    • At the visit's conclusion, the DDTC team briefs company senior management and export control staff to share information the team gathered. DDTC invites the company to provide feedback, ask questions, or raise concerns for follow-up.
    • The DDTC team returns to the Department and generates an internal report. The team also follows up on company feedback. DTCC will send a formal close-out letter to the company. Close-out letters summarize the visit, indicate best practices, recommend areas for improvement or suggest best practices, and address feedback, questions, or concerns raised by the company. DTCC also requests feedback on the visit's quality and usefulness and suggestions for improving the program.
US - State receives petition to expand Pembina-Emerson LPOE
On July 20, 2016, the Department of State (State) published in the Federal Register a notice [Public Notice: 9639] that on May 24, 2016, it received an application for a Presidential Permit to expand the Pembina-Emerson Land Port of Entry (LPOE) on the U.S.-Canada Border at Pembina, North Dakota, and Emerson, Manitoba, Canada. The North Dakota Department of Transportation filed this application. State's jurisdiction over this application is based upon Executive Order 11423 of August 16, 1968, as amended. As provided in E.O. 11423, State is circulating this application to relevant federal agencies for review and comment. Under E.O. 11423, State has the responsibility to determine, taking into account input from these agencies and other stakeholders, whether issuance of a Presidential Permit for the proposed expansion of this border crossing would serve the national interest. Interested members of the public are invited to submit written comments regarding this application on or before October 31, 2016, to the U.S.-Canada Border Affairs Officer, via email or mail. The application and supporting documents are available for review at State’s website here.
Vietnam launches safeguard investigation

On 18 July 2016, Viet Nam notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 6 July 2016 a safeguard investigation on pre-painted galvanized steel sheet and strip. In the notification, Viet Nam indicated as follows:

Any request for information regarding the investigation must be submitted within 30 days after the initiation of the investigation.

Interested parties who desire to present evidence, documents and opinions pertaining to the investigation could submit evidence, documents and opinions in Vietnamese, in both computer files and hardcopy during the investigation.

Interested parties who want to receive the public information and documents on the investigation shall submit the registration for interested parties within a period of 30 days after the initiation of the investigation to the following address:

VIETNAM COMPETITION AUTHORITY (Trade Remedies Investigation Division)
25 Ngo Quyen Street, Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel: (84 4) 22205002 ext.1038
Fax: (84 4 22205003
Email: giangpc moit.gov.vn ; hungnht moit.gov.vn

Further information is available in G/SG/N/6/VNM/5.

EU/China Smart and Secure Trade Lanes pilot to be expanded

The European Commission has announced that on 15 July 2016, the General Administration of China Customs and Hong Kong Customs joined the customs authorities of eight EU Member States (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom) and the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union of the European Commission, DG TAXUD in Phase 3 of the Smart and Secure Trade Lanes (SSTL) pilot project. Seven additional Member States (Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia) as well as the WCO take part as observers.

The SSTL is a Pilot project between the EU and Asia which allows testing end-to-end supply chain security instruments and mechanisms in line with WCO SAFE Framework of Standards (FoS). It was launched in 2006 by the Netherlands, UK and China to test specific safety and security related recommendations of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards as regards security measures applied to containers, facilitating ‘Customs-to-Customs’ data exchange, risk management cooperation, mutual recognition of customs controls and trade partnership programmes. Member States participate on a voluntary basis. In 2010, Phase 2 was launched with the aim to expand the project which involved selecting more complex lanes, the inclusion of non-AEO companies, the expansion of risk management cooperation. Eventually, Phase 2 participants included Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and Hong Kong Customs as well as the original participants.

Phase 3 will result in an increase in the share of goods traded between the participants covered by SSTL, and is thus expected to have a substantial impact on overall supply chain security and trade facilitation between the EU and China. This involves notably expanding the scope of the pilot, both geographically as well as to air and rail transport, in addition to maritime transport; increasing the volume of consignments covered; and incorporating advanced risk management techniques and developing common risk rules. An ambitious data exchange mechanism is being developed to support the above objectives and actions.

Furthermore, there is Risk management cooperation under the SSTL umbrella which allows addressing areas of mutual interest. So far several joint risk rule exercises have been conducted with focus on IPR, cigarettes and waste.

SSTL also contributed to a series of important security policy areas, notably as regards the technical comparison of the AEO programmes in view of establishing EU China AEO Mutual recognition, the contribution to the WCO unique consignment reference numbers (UCR) concept and addressing temporary admission issues for container security devices (CSDs).

For more information:

US – USTR seeks comments to compile National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

On July 19, 2016, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing that the Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) is requesting interested persons to submit comments to assist it in identifying significant barriers to U.S. exports of goods, services, and U.S. foreign direct investment for inclusion in the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers (NTE). Pursuant to section 181 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2241), USTR is required to publish the NTE annually. The TPSC invites written comments from the public on issues that USTR should examine in preparing the NTE.

Section 1377 of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (19 U.S.C. 3106) (Section 1377) requires the USTR to review annually the operation and effectiveness of all U.S. trade agreements regarding telecommunications products and services that are in force with respect to the United States. USTR is collecting information regarding the trade barriers pertinent to the conduct of the review called for in Section 1377 through this notice. Public comments are due not later than 11:59 pm, October 27, 2016.

US, Vietnam reach agreement on shrimp

On July 18, 2016, the International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, announced that the United States and Vietnam signed an agreement to resolve two longstanding WTO disputes over imports of Vietnamese shrimp to the United States. The agreement also provides a framework for the settlement of certain U.S. court litigation, as well as the resolution of certain outstanding duty claims covering various administrative reviews of the warmwater shrimp antidumping duty order. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Barbara Weisel, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Enforcement and Compliance Paul Piquado, and Vietnam's Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh signed the agreement.

The agreement resolves two outstanding WTO disputes brought by Vietnam: United States – Anti-dumping Measures on Certain Shrimp from Viet Nam (DS404) and United States – Anti-dumping Measures on Certain Shrimp from Viet Nam (DS429).

Pursuant to the agreement, Commerce revisited prior administrative determinations to bring those decisions into compliance with the WTO dispute findings. As a result, a Vietnamese exporter of frozen warmwater shrimp – Minh Phu Group – will no longer be subject to the antidumping duty order. In addition, certain domestic litigation will be resolved and duty deposits will be refunded to the Minh Phu Group. The antidumping duty order will remain in place for all other exporters of warmwater shrimp from Vietnam.

US – USTR announces new Digital Trade Working Group

On July 18, 2016, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman announced the creation of a Digital Trade Working Group within the Office of the USTR. The announcement stated:

The group will serve as a “Rapid Response” team to identify and combat barriers to digital trade and promote sound policies to advance global digital trade around the world. Led by Ambassador Robert Holleyman and composed of USTR staff with expertise in e-commerce, telecommunications, services, intellectual property, innovation, and industrial competitiveness, the group will work to address barriers to digital trade to promote the digital economy through a free and open Internet and commerce without borders.
***
The Digital Trade Working Group was established to develop policy responses to existing and emerging barriers to digital trade around the globe. It will closely examine barriers to cloud computing, platform services, and the trade in digital products, as well as coordinate the negotiation and implementation of digital trade provisions bilaterally and across on-going and completed negotiations including the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the Trade in Services Agreement. The Working Group will also develop strategies for engagement in multilateral fora, including the WTO, APEC, G-20, and G-7 to support both an expansion in digital trade and the adoption of our existing array of digital-trade-promoting rules more broadly.

US – APHIS to end ITDS/ACE test and require ACE submissions
On July 18, 2016, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a notice [Docket No. APHIS-2015-0063], in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), advising the public that a pilot plan to test and assess the International Trade Data System for the electronic submission of data required by APHIS Animal Care, Biotechnology Regulatory Services, Plant Protection and Quarantine, and Veterinary Services for processing in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) has proven successful and will end on August 15, 2016. After this date, all submissions of APHIS-required data must be submitted in accordance with the procedures on the CBP Web site.
US – Labor Dep’t accepts complaint under United States-Colombia TPA

On July 18, 2016, the Department of Labor published in the Federal Register a notice stating that on July 15, 2016, the Office of Trade and Labor Affairs (OTLA) accepted for review Submission #2016-02 regarding Colombia pursuant to Article 17.5.5 of the United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA). On May 16, 2015, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and five Colombian workers’ and civil society organizations provided a formal submission to OTLA alleging violations of Chapter 17 (the Labor Chapter) of the CTPA by the Government of Colombia (GOC). The submission alleges that the GOC has failed to effectively enforce its labor laws through a sustained and recurring course of action or inaction in a manner that affects trade or investment; waived or otherwise derogated from its statutes or regulations in a manner affecting trade or investment; failed to adopt and maintain in its statutes and regulations, and practices thereunder, the rights as stated in the International Labor Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work (ILO Declaration); failed to ensure the proceedings in its administrative, judicial, or labor tribunals are transparent and do not entail unwarranted delays; and failed to ensure that final decisions in such proceedings are made available without undue delay.

OTLA’s decision to accept the submission for review does not indicate any determination as to the validity or accuracy of the allegations contained in the submission. The objective of the review will be to gather information so that OTLA can better understand the allegations contained in the submission and publicly report on the issues raised therein in light of the GOC’s obligations under the Labor Chapter of the CTPA. As set out in the Procedural Guidelines (published as 71 Fed. Reg. 76691, December 21, 2006), OTLA will complete the review and issue a public report to the Secretary of Labor within 180 days of this acceptance, unless circumstances, as determined by OTLA, require an extension of time.

US – USTR seeks comments for AGOA annual review

On July 18, 2016, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice announcing the initiation of the annual review of the eligibility of the sub-Saharan African countries to receive the benefits of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The AGOA Implementation Subcommittee of the Trade Policy Staff Committee (Subcommittee) is developing recommendations for the President on AGOA country eligibility for calendar year 2017. The Subcommittee is requesting written public comments for this 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. Comments received related to the child labor criteria may also be considered by the Secretary of Labor in the preparation of the Department of Labor's report on child labor as required under section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974. The notice identifies the eligibility criteria under AGOA that must be considered under AGOA, and lists those sub-Saharan African countries that are currently eligible for the benefits of AGOA and those that were ineligible for such benefits in 2016.

The deadline for filing requests to appear at the August 22, 2016 public hearing, and for filing pre-hearing briefs, statements, or comments on sub-Saharan African countries’ AGOA eligibility: August 5, 2016. The Subcommittee will convene a public hearing on AGOA country eligibility on August 22, 2016. The deadline for filing post-hearing briefs, statements, or comments on this matter: September 2, 2016.

US – DEA to test ITDS/ACE – seeks participants

On July 15, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published in the Federal Register a general notice announcing, in coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a pilot test of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) involving the electronic submission of data related to the importation and exportation of controlled substances and listed chemicals. The pilot program will test the electronic transmission through the CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system, of data, forms and documents required by the DEA using the Partner Government Agency (PGA) Message Set and the Document Image System (DIS). The data, forms and documents will be transmitted for review by the DEA. CBP’s PGA Message Set and DIS enable importers, exporters, and brokers to electronically transmit data required by the DEA directly to ACE. This electronic process will replace certain paper-based processes currently used during the pilot program for pilot participants.

To be eligible to apply for and participate in the pilot, an applicant must be a self-filing importer or broker who has the ability to file ACE Entry and Entry Summaries certified for cargo release using a software program that has completed ACE certification testing for the PGA Message Set and DIS, and, if an exporter, must have the ability to file electronically in the Automated Export System (AES) or in ACE AESDirect. The test will commence no earlier than August 1, 2016, and will continue until concluded by publication of a notice in the Federal Register ending the test. Applications to participate may be submitted throughout the duration of the test.

New Zealand - New excise duty rates for alcohol from 1 July 2016 3/06/2016

The annual adjustment to the excise and excise-equivalent duty rates on alcoholic beverages took place on 1 July 2016. The annual adjustment is based on movements in the consumer prices index less credit services subgroup over the 12-month period to 31 March 2016. The new rates are those set out in the Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Alcoholic Beverages Indexation) Amendment Order 2016.

The rates are summarised as:

Excise rate to 30 June 2016

New excise rate (GST excl.) from

1 July 2016

42.472 cents per litre

42.650 cents per litre

$28.320 per litre of alcohol

$28.438 per litre of alcohol

$2.2655 per litre

$2.2750 per litre

$2.8320 per litre

$2.8438 per litre

$51.579 per litre of alcohol

$51.795 per litre of alcohol

Alcohol products removed from a licensed manufacturing area or imported after midnight on 30 June 2016 are subject to the new rates.

New Zealand - Low value imports – update and next steps

On 30 June 2016, the New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) reported that imports of low-value goods (under NZ$1000) into New Zealand have been growing steadily, especially with the rise of online shopping, and said this is expected to continue.

NZCS has been exploring whether it is possible to change the shape and level of the de minimis – the level under which tax is not collected for imported (physical) goods. This is currently set at $60 duty owing (GST inclusive).

Over the last six months, Customs has consulted with key industry and partner agencies, and will continue to carry out further work to develop its proposals.

Following an update to Cabinet on Monday 27 June, Government has agreed to issue a public statement, identifying intentions to:

    • move to a de minimis defined by the value of the consignment
    • potentially make a reduction to the de minimis in the future
    • undertake further work with industry to develop new collection mechanisms.

See statement by Customs Minister Nicky Wagner.

For more information on the work carried out to date, the following documents are available for your information:

This is not at a public consultation stage yet. No changes will be made without the opportunity for everyone to have a say when a proposal is finalised and presented.

New Zealand - Change to entry rule for exporting to China – 1 October 2016

The New Zealand Customs Service has announced that anticipated changes to the Export Entry Rules (1997) will come into effect from 1 October 2016.

Where tariff preference is being requested under the China – New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, exporters will need to enter Certificate of Origin (COO) numbers in the entry declaration.

The change will require COO numbers to be entered under ‘Other Information’ in the entry header field, with the code ‘COO’ and the certificate number without the full stops (e.g. ‘COO’ – ‘12123412345’).

If the COO number cannot be obtained before lodging the entry, the entry will need to be amended to reflect the correct information after the Customs Export Delivery Order is generated.

This aims to streamline legitimate trade into China by making all relevant information available to the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) at the time of export.

This means any documentation queries raised upon importation can be actioned from one source quickly and accurately – reducing the risk of delays for clearance of goods in China.

Customs wants to identify any potential challenges early, so it has requested that feedback be submitted to feedback customs.govt.nz with the subject “Export Entry Rules” by Friday July 29 2016.

After this date, you will be provided an update in a forthcoming Customs Release.

Brokers and declarants will need to check that their entry lodgement system is able to accept the new code. It is expected that the process will become applicable for exports to all FTA partner countries in the near future.

This process does not replace the requirement for COOs to be presented to GACC for NZ origin preference. Rather, it provides another layer of assurance.

This change is a requirement for NZ Customs, and is not a result of the Joint Electronic Verification System (JEVS), which is being developed in conjunction with GACC. In that case, export entry data is stored by NZ Customs, whereas information within the COO provided by the authorised issuing body will be ‘pushed’ to China Customs via JEVS in future.

EU – Commission publishes further TTIP documents in ongoing transparency commitment

On 14 July 2016, the European Commission published a record number of EU proposals from the ongoing 14th round of talks for a trade agreement with the United States, taking place in Brussels this week.

As part of its drive for a more transparent trade and investment policy, the Commission is making these proposals public only days after submitting them to our negotiating partners.

The nine proposals published today are intended to simplify technical regulations without lowering standards, and to set global rules of trade. Specifically, the published texts represent the EU's negotiating position on regulatory cooperation in the sectors of cosmetics, medical devices, cars, chemicals and textiles. Also published today is a new article on climate protection as a part of the chapter on sustainable development, as well as separate chapters on energy and raw materials,market access for financial services, and on institutional cooperation within TTIP. The proposal for regulatory cooperation in the engineering sector will follow.

The published texts show that the Commission is delivering on the goal established at the beginning of the year – to have almost all proposals for chapters of TTIP on the table and consolidate as many texts as possible by the summer break.

On 13 July, the Commission organised a series of stakeholder events at the fringes of the negotiations, where interested stakeholders were briefed on the status of the negotiations and exchanged views with the chief EU and US negotiators.
The following texts were published:

WTO welcomes Liberia as 163rd member

On 14 July 2016, the WTO announced that Liberia had joined the WTO as its 163rd member, after nearly 10 years of negotiating its accession terms with WTO members. Liberia is the eighth least-developed country (LDC) to accede to the WTO through negotiations. The announcement said:

The 30-day countdown to Liberia’s WTO membership was activated when Liberia’s Minister for Commerce and Industry, Axel Addy, handed to the WTO the instrument of acceptance of Liberia’s Protocol of Accession on 14 June 2016.
***
Liberia’s Accession Package was approved by the Working Party members on 6 October 2015 and by Ministers at the Nairobi Ministerial Conference on 16 December 2015.

Seven African countries are still negotiating their WTO accession, out of nineteen governments. The full list of WTO observers can be found here.

Liberia’s accession commitments can be found in the Accession Commitments Database. The database includes all accession commitments of the 35 members that have acceded to the WTO since the organization was established in 1995.

Learn more about Liberia’s WTO accession negotiations here.

US – FTC issues warning letters to companies claiming APEC Cross-Border Privacy Certification

On July 14, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it has issued warning letters to 28 companies that claim certified participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperative’s Cross-Border Privacy Rules system on their websites but do not appear to have met the requirements to make that claim.

The APEC privacy system is a self-regulatory initiative to enhance the protection of consumer data that moves among the APEC member economies through a voluntary but enforceable code of conduct implemented by participating businesses. Under the system, companies can be certified as compliant with APEC CBPR program requirements based on the following nine data privacy principles: preventing harm, notice, collection limitation, use choice, integrity, security safeguards, access and correction, and accountability.

The companies that received the letters must remove the claims regarding APEC CBPR from their websites immediately and inform FTC staff that they have done so, or provide information proving they are actually certified. The letter notes that companies falsely claiming certification in the system may be in violation of the FTC Act.

The FTC recently settled its first case related to a deceptive claim of certification in the APEC CPBR system.

New Zealand - Consultation on proposed TPP patent term extension regulations

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) announced that on 11 July 2016, it released a consultation document seeking feedback on proposed regulations to implement the patent term extension provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Bill. The Bill will, when it enters into force, amend the Patents Act 2013 to provide for patent term extensions for:

    • Unreasonable delays in patent grant; and
    • Unreasonable curtailment of the effective patent term as a result of the Medsafe approval process.

The proposed regulations mainly relate to procedural matters, including:

    • The manner in which requests for extension of term must be made;
    • The information that must be provided (in addition to that required by the TPPA Bill) with requests for extension;
    • Time limits for requesting an extension of term;
    • Procedures by which third parties can oppose the grant of extensions of term for unreasonable curtailment, including the time limits by which oppositions must be made.

In addition, the Bill provides for regulations to be made setting out time periods to be disregarded when determining whether there have been unreasonable delays in grant. These “disregarded periods” will be ignored when deciding whether there has been unreasonable delay in grant.

Submissions are due by 5 pm on 8 August 2016. Submissions may respond to any or all of these issues. MBIE also encourage your input on any other relevant issues. Where possible, please include evidence to support your views, for example references to independent research, facts and figures, or relevant examples. Submissions made be made via e-mail or regular mail to the address in the announcement.

US challenges China’s export duties on nine key raw materials

On July 13, 2016, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced that the United States has launched a new trade enforcement action against the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s export duties on nine different raw materials. When China joined the WTO, China agreed to eliminate its export duties on these products, but it has failed to follow through on this commitment. The announcement stated in part:

The export duties China imposes provide substantial competitive advantages for Chinese manufacturers by making them more expensive for U.S. manufacturers that rely on these raw materials to produce their downstream goods. These nine raw materials – antimony, cobalt, copper, graphite, lead, magnesia, talc, tantalum, and tin – are key inputs into high-value Made-in-America products in vital industrial sectors, including aerospace, automotive, electronics, and chemicals. China’s export duties provide an unfair competitive advantage to China at the expense of American workers and manufacturers.

China’s export duties on these raw materials, which range from 5 to 20 percent ad valorem, disadvantage U.S. producers by raising the prices of these raw materials for downstream manufacturers outside of China, while lowering the prices paid by China’s manufacturers that use these same raw materials. These Chinese manufacturers are able to manufacture lower-priced goods using these unfairly priced raw materials, creating an uneven playing field for U.S. competitors. In this way, China’s export duties create pressures on U.S. and other non-Chinese producers to shift production operations, technologies, and jobs to China.

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Chair, NA International
Commercial Practice Group

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


Members, US International
Trade Compliance Steering Committee


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

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

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


Editor, International Trade
Compliance Update


Stuart P. Seidel
International Trade Resource Lawyer, Washington DC
Email: Stuart Seidel
T + 1 202 452 7088