On 31 January 2019, the Department for International Trade announced that the Trade Policy Minister, George Hollingbery, signed the trade continuity agreement in London with a number of representative governments. A continuity agreement will see British businesses and consumers benefitting from continued trade with Eastern and Southern Africa after the UK leaves the European Union. Read more…
On 18 July 2018, the Official Journal published Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1013 of 17 July 2018 imposing provisional safeguard measures with regard to imports of certain steel products. On 26 March 2018, the Commission published a Notice of Initiation of a safeguard investigation concerning imports of 26 steel product categories (2018/C 111/10) in the Official Journal. The Commission decided to initiate the investigation in the light of sufficient evidence that imports of those products might cause or threaten to cause serious injury to the Union producers concerned. On 28 June, the investigation was extended to two additional product categories. There was also a high risk of further increase of imports resulting from trade diversion due to the measures against imports of steel adopted by the United States under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (‘Section 232’). The 28 product categories (‘the product concerned’ or the ‘product categories concerned’) are all covered by the steel surveillance mechanism introduced by the Commission in May 2016. They are also subject to the US tariff measures under Section 232.Read more…
On 23 April 2018, South Africa notified the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards that it initiated on 20 April 2018 a safeguard investigation on “other screws fully threaded with hexagon heads made of steel”.Read more…
As you may recall, early last year, President Trump issued two presidential memoranda instructing the U.S. Commerce Department to initiate an investigation into the national security implications of steel imports and aluminum imports into the United States. If these so-called “section 232” (section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended) investigations determine that steel import and/or aluminum imports “threaten to impair the national security[,]” then the President can impose additional customs duties (among other things) on covered products.
On June 16, 2018, the Secretary of Commerce issued his reports to the President in both matters (unclassified versions of the reports are available here). In each case, the Department of Commerce concluded that the quantities and circumstances surrounding steel and aluminum imports “threaten to impair the national security,” thereby opening the door to the imposition of import restraints. Specifically, Commerce’s recommendations are as follows:Read more…
On July 14, 2017, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice providing country-by-country allocations of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 (October 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018) in-quota quantity of the tariff-rate quotas for imported raw cane sugar, certain sugars, syrups and molasses (also known as refined sugar), specialty sugar, and sugar-containing products.Read more…
On 11 October 2016, the Official Journal published a notice announcing that the European Union and the Republic of Botswana, the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Namibia, the Republic of South Africa and the Kingdom of Swaziland have notified the completion of the procedures necessary for the provisional application of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the SADC EPA States, of the other part, in accordance with Article 113 of that Agreement. Read more…
On 10 June 2016, the European Commission announced that the European Union and six countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the first of its kind between the EU and an African region pursuing economic integration. The signature took place in Kasane, Botswana.
The EPA is a development-oriented free trade agreement. In addition to this agreement, other regional agreements could also soon be signed with West Africa and the East African Community. The announcement said:
The EPA takes into account the different levels of development of each partner. It guarantees Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Swaziland duty-free, quota-free access to the European market. South Africa will also benefit from enhanced market access, going beyond the existing bilateral arrangement. Furthermore, the agreement signed today increases the flexibility of Southern African producers to put together products from components from various countries, without the risk of losing their free access to the EU market. It also provides for a number of protective measures, for instance for nascent, fragile industries or for food security reasons.
The Southern African markets will open gradually and partially to EU exports, in an asymmetric way. In the process of diversifying their economies and broadening production, imports of certain goods are important for Southern African nations – certain industrial parts, seeds and machinery, for instance. The import duties on many of these so-called intermediary goods will be significantly reduced, making the products more easily accessible to Southern African entrepreneurs.
For the South African market specifically, particular advantage has been granted to EU producers of traditional quality products with a worldwide reputation – for example wines and food products – that will now get the exclusive right to use their traditional names, or ‘geographical indications’, in South Africa. Correspondingly, several South African geographical indications will, from now on, be protected on the EU market, such as different types of South African wine such as Stellenbosch and Paarl, along with Rooibos tea and other products.
By signing the agreement, all participants commit to acting towards sustainable development, including by upholding social and environmental standards. The EPA also establishes a consultation procedure for environmental or labour issues and defines a comprehensive list of areas in which the partners will cooperate to foster sustainable development. Civil society will have a special role in monitoring the impact of the agreement. In addition, a detailed chapter on development cooperation identifies trade-related areas that could benefit from EU financial support.
The EPA creates joint institutions to support dialogue, the smooth handling of all trade issues, and the monitoring of the impact of the trade deal. The EU will work with its SADC partners to ensure the smooth implementation of the agreement, together with regional and national development cooperation bodies.
The EU Council of Ministers took the decision to authorise the signature of the Economic Partnership Agreement on 1 June. Following the signature, the agreement will now be submitted for approval to the European Parliament, and for ratification in the 28 EU Member States according to national ratification procedures and in the Southern African countries.
On 23 February 2016, the World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that South Africa deposited its instrument of acceptance for the 2005 protocol amending the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) on 23 February 2016, becoming the fourth WTO member to do so in 2016. The announcement stated:
On January 14, 2016, the Federal Register published Proclamation 9388 of January 11, 2016 – To Take Certain Actions Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. The proclamation: