A weekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.
Congo Reinstated as AGOA Beneficiary
Starting January 1, 2021, the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be reinstated and designated a beneficiary country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Washington suspended Congo from the trade pact some 10 years ago because of alleged human rights violations under former President Joseph Kabila. Congo’s main exports, copper and cobalt, are included in the AGOA but are already duty-free under the Generalized System of Preferences.
US-Israel FTA Extended Through 2021
A Presidential Proclamation issued this week extends the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement benefits on Agricultural Products through December 31, 2021. The 35-year-old pact — the first free trade agreement that either country ever signed — has resulted in two-way trade totaling nearly $47 billion in 2018, with U.S. exports accounting for nearly 40% of that figure, a more than five-fold increase since enactment of the Reagan-era accord.
Tariff Duty Reduction on Certain EU Imports Retroactive to Aug. 1
This week’s Presidential Proclamation also implements the agreement reached earlier this year with the European Union that removed tariffs on U.S. lobsters in exchange for halving duties on imports of certain glassware, ceramics, disposable lighters, and prepared meals. The six tariff subheadings affected (1604.20.05, 3214.90.50, 3601.00.00, 7013.41.50, 9613.11.00, and 9613.90.80) will be subject to duty reduction retroactive to August 1, 2020.
U.S. Adds to Countermeasures Against EU in Boeing-Airbus Dispute Over ‘Unfair’ Calculations
The Trump administration this week announced the imposition of tariffs on additional European imports in response to calculations made by the European Union that it says “unfairly” increased the amount of retaliation against the U.S. for subsidies provided to Boeing that had been ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization. Affected products of French and German origin include aircraft manufacturing parts, certain non-sparkling wine, and certain cognac and other grape brandies.
Industry Groups Urge USTR to Drop Vietnam Currency Probe
A diverse group of industry trade groups urged the USTR on Tuesday to drop an investigation into Vietnam’s currency practices, warning that new tariffs would not only harm U.S. interests and consumers but possibly also result in a backlash against U.S. pork exports. The groups testified at a USTR hearing into whether Vietnam deliberately undervalues its currency for an unfair trade advantage. The investigation is the first currency probe undertaken by the USTR, a move outside of its traditional policy space that some argue is legally questionable.
BIS Adds China’s Top Chipmaker SMIC and 76 Others to EAR Entity List
As part of an ongoing pursuit to combat efforts made by China to divert U.S. technology for their military programs, the Bureau of Industry and Security this week added 77 entities and people to the Entity List made pursuant to the Export Administration Regulations. The Commerce Department has also added a new Military End-User List, covering nearly 60 Chinese companies, including that country’s top chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation.