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Weekly Trade Brief: October 26-30, 2020

Posted October 29, 2020

A weekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance. 

Steel Smelter

Global Steel Groups, EU Urge G20 Leaders to Address Crisis in Steel Market

A coalition of steel industry associations across the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa urged governments of various countries this week to boost their efforts in the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, in order to more effectively address the growing steel crisis situation. Confronting what they called one of the “sharpest downturns” in steel demand ever recorded, the groups called on G20 leaders to deal with excess capacity issues during a high-profile meeting next month. The European Union joined in the call Thursday, urging G20 leaders to step up joint efforts to address the overcapacity that harms EU steel producers.

Crops, Industrial Farming, Monoculture, Soybeans

PIIE Tracker Shows China’s Purchasing Falling Short of Phase-One Commitments

The latest numbers from an economic think tank that keeps tabs on China’s monthly purchases of U.S. goods covered by the phase one deal between the U.S. and China, shows that through the first 9 months of 2020, China’s purchases of all covered products were only at roughly just over half of their year-to-date targets. Regarding agricultural products, China’s purchases were only at 52% ($12.9 billion, compared with a year-to-date target of $25 billion) of their YTD goal. This contrasts sharply with a recent update by the USTR and USDA which claimed China had met about 71% of its agricultural purchase commitment for the first year of the two-year deal signed in January. 

Yarn Spools

Polyester Textured Yarn from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam Could be Subject to AD Duties

On October 28, 2020, Unifi Manufacturing Inc. and Nan Ya Plastics Corporation America, filed a petition for the imposition of antidumping duties on polyester textured yarn from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The yarn in question is made from polyethylene terephthalate and is produced through a texturing process. As such, the goods are classified under subheadings 5402.33.3000 and 5402.33.6000 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States and may also be entered under HTSUS 5402.52.00. The alleged average dumping margins range from 15.51% for Indonesia to 75.13% for Malaysia.

CBP Field Officer

Expedited Forfeiture Process for Small-Package Seizures Coming Soon, CBP Tells Government Watchdog

CBP plans to “streamline its current process on the forfeiture and disposition of seized merchandise” valued at less than $2,500 by the end of January 2021, the agency said in response to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. In its report, GAO recommended that CBP take steps to develop a streamlined enforcement approach against counterfeit goods arriving via small packages. Concurring with the watchdog, CBP says it intends to accomplish this by issuing a Notice of Seizure concurrent with the publication of forfeiture notices, thereby resulting in low-value shipments being adjudicated within 30-days from the date of seizure.

Egg Processing Machine

USDA (FSIS) Finalizes “Modernization” of Egg Product Regulations, Including New Import Requirements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is adopting as final “modernization” of its regulations on eggs and egg products, including provisions on imports. Many of the changes align the FSIS egg product regulations with current requirements for meat and poultry. Under the changes, that were first proposed in 2018, federal inspectors will operate under a “patrol” system, in which they will cover multiple plants each day. Some inspectors and public-interest groups have warned food safety may suffer as a result.

Coronavirus on Freezer Aisle

Concerns About Virus on Food Imports Are Real, Expert Says

The risk of cross-border coronavirus transmission through the $1.5 trillion global agri-food market is real, according to a scientist who has studied the phenomenon. In recent months China has been vocal about finding traces of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen on packaging and food, raising fears that imported items are linked to recent virus resurgences. Such concerns have been largely dismissed by the World Health Organization and some western nations who say transmission through the cold food chain is “unlikely” based on the evidence.

WTO DG Candidate Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

U.S. Blocks Efforts to Make Former Nigerian Trade Minister WTO Director-General

Following several rounds of consultations with member states in recent months, Nigeria’s former Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been proposed to become the new Director-General of the World Trade Organization. Her candidacy, with backing from Africa, Europe, Japan and China, will be put for endorsement at a WTO General Council meeting on November 9. The U.S. has cast uncertainty on the process, however, by refusing to support Okonjo-Iweala and backing instead the candidacy of South Korean trade minister Yoo Myung-hee, insisting the WTO “must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field” in order to carry out much-needed reforms.

Business Man & Woman Pointing to Document

CBP Seeks to Address Operational Questions Around Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers

In an advance notice of proposed rulemaking issued earlier this week, CBP is seeking public comment regarding numerous operational issues in connection with proposed requirements for the continuing education of licensed customs brokers. The agency cites the dynamic trade environment with changing requirements as well as the “high level of functional and accessible knowledge” required for brokers to be efficient and compliant as reasons for the long-discussed changes now being put forward.



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