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Trade Policy

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On December 13, 2019, the Office of the US Trade Representative announced that United States and China have reached “an historic and enforceable agreement” on a Phase One trade deal that requires structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange. The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional…

A period of uncertainty is currently affecting the WTO dispute settlement system: Its Appellate Body is normally composed of seven members but currently only has three, the minimum number to function. On 10 December 2019, the mandates of two of the remaining three Appellate Body members expire and the organization will no longer be able to decide on appeals in trade disputes between WTO members. The process to fill the vacancies has faltered in 2016…

On December 10, 2019, at an event in Mexico’s National Palace, the modifying protocol  agreement to finalize the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) (that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA).was signed in the presence of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, by Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Mexico’s Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs for North America Jesus Seade, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The signing was made possible by an agreement…

On December 10, 2019, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Chairman, Richard Neal announced in a press conference, that they had reached a deal with the White House on the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement. Neal outlined some of the changes in the deal reached with the White House on the USMCA Trade Agreement on labor and environmental enforcement rules, drug pricing, and other issues. The changes must be agreed to by Mexico…

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has posted on its website an advance copy of a Federal Register notice [Docket No. USTR-2019-0003] that advises the public that USTR is reviewing the action being taken in the Section 301 investigation involving the enforcement of U.S. WTO rights in the Large Civil Aircraft dispute. Annex I to the notice contains a list of products currently subject to 10% or 25% additional duties (See 84 Fed.…

On 6 December 2019, the WTO announced that at a meeting of the full WTO membership on 6 December, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo emphasised that for dispute settlement as for rule-making, the choices members make in the coming months would be consequential for the future of the multilateral trading system. He also welcomed a compromise reached in the Committee on Budget, Finance and Administration on the WTO’s budget for 2020. In his remarks, the Director-General said…

On December 9, 2019, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice that announces that CBP is modifying the Section 321 Data Pilot to include shipments arriving by ocean and to include international mail shipments. This notice also modifies the provisions governing misconduct under the pilot and extends the duration of the pilot an additional twelve months (through August 2021). On July 23, 2019, CBP published a general notice…

On December 6, 2019, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) published in the Federal Register a notice of its determination of the trade surplus in certain sugar and syrup goods and sugar-containing products of Chile, Morocco, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, Colombia and Panama. The level of a country’s trade surplus in these goods relates to the quantity of sugar and syrup goods and sugar-containing products for…

On December 4, 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that the National Diet (Parliament) approved the Japan-US Trade Agreement as well as the Japan-US Digital Trade Agreement. The US Trade Representative commended Japan’s action and said the United States is preparing for the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement and the U.S.-Japan Digital Trade Agreement to go into effect on January 1, 2020. As agreed by President Trump and Prime Minister Abe, both Governments will begin consultations early…

On December 2, 2019, the US Trade Representative (USTR) announced that it had completed the first segment of its investigation under section 301(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Act of 1974 (the Trade Act) and concluded that France’s Digital Services Tax (DST) discriminates against US companies. USTR’s investigation began on July 10, 2019, and solicited comments on the DST’s Discrimination, retroactivity and unreasonable tax policy. A report available on USTR’s website sets out the findings of the investigation. The DST…