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Australia

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On August 9, 2019, the Department of Defense (DoD) published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket DARS–2019–0037] that amends the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to add Australia as a new World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA) country. On October 17, 2018, the WTO Committee on Government Procurement approved the accession of Australia to the WTO GPA. Australia submitted its instrument of accession to the Secretary-General of the WTO on…

On August 5, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13884 (“Venezuela EO”) blocking all property of the Government of Venezuela (“GOV”), a significant escalation of sanctions against the regime of President Maduro. Statements issued by the White House and State Department indicate that this escalation is meant to target the Maduro regime for its continued abuses of human rights and repression. The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) concurrently issued 12 amended general licenses and 13 new…

The entry into force of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) brings with it preferential import tariff rates applicable to CPTPP originating goods. Import tariffs can amount to a substantial increase on the end cost of goods. For businesses operating in a competitive market, preferential tariff rates may afford them a comparative advantage by reducing costs. Under the CPTPP, tariff rate reductions occur automatically after the Agreement has entered into force in a member country’s territory. Accordingly, exporters of most CPTPP originating goods can enjoy preferential tariff rates immediately.

On 18 March 2019, the Minister for Foreign Affairs announced that Australia was joining the US, UK, Canada and EU member states in imposing targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against seven Russian individuals for their role in the interception and seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels that were attempting to pass through the Kerch Strait. Australia is concerned by this escalation of tensions in the Sea of Azov in November 2018.

On 22 January, the Department for International Trade (DIT) announced that the UK and New Zealand had signed a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) that maintains all relevant aspects of the current EU-New Zealand mutual recognition agreement on conformity assessment. The MRA helps to facilitate trade flows between the two nations and means UK exporters can ensure goods are compliant with New Zealand’s technical regulations before they depart the UK, saving businesses time, money and resources. New Zealand exporters to the UK benefit in the same way.

On January 19, 2019, Global Affairs Canada reported that the inaugural Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) Commission meeting was successfully concluded. The CPTPP Commission, consisting of representatives from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam (the countries for which the CPTPP has entered into force), met in Tokyo, Japan and concluded their session by issuing a Ministerial statement. The Commission meeting allowed CPTPP countries to chart a course for next steps as well as agree on a framework for the accession of new members. The Ministerial Statement follows:

On December 5, 2018, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) issued Customs Notice 18-22 Implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which announces that the CPTPP will be implemented in Canada, Australia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore on December 30, 2018. Additionally, the Agreement will enter into force for Vietnam on January 14, 2019. With the exception of a few agricultural goods, the CPTPP will essentially eliminate the customs duties on all qualifying imports into Canada from a country for which the CPTPP is in force (“CPTPP country”), either immediately upon implementation of the agreement, or through a tariff phase-out. At the time of issuance of CN 18-22, not all CPTPP member countries will have completed their domestic ratification process and identified an implementation date. As the remaining CPTPP member countries reach ratification and confirm an implementation date, a separate customs notice will be issued. The text of the CPTPP is available at the Global Affairs website.