A weekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.
USTR Announces Key Staff Appointments
On Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced key staff members who will help the new administration “build back a better economy,” according to the agency. “The experienced and diverse team will partner with USTR’s dedicated career civil servants to craft trade policy that benefits American workers and increases American competitiveness,” USTR said. With the aim of providing insight into Biden's emerging trade policy, a breakdown of the new personnel’s bios, prior work experience, and viewpoints is provided at the International Economic Law and Policy blog.
Tariff-Rate Quotas for Certain UK Goods Still Qualify Under 2021 EU Allocation
The USTR this week advised that products of the United Kingdom which are eligible for importation into the U.S. under Tariff-Rate Quotas will remain eligible under the TRQs allocated to the member countries of the European Union for 2021. The Federal Register notice states that the U.S. “maintains TRQs for imports from specific countries or customs areas, including the EU.” While the Brexit transition ended December 31, 2020, USTR has determined to continue the UK’s eligibility under the EU’s allocation for quota year 2021.
Dems Vow to Renew ‘Upgraded’ GSP in 2021
The renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences will be taken up by Congress this year, House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) said on Tuesday, calling for an “upgrade” and for provisions ensuring reimbursement for duties incurred during a lapse in benefits. The program, which expired on December 31, allows for duty-free entry into the U.S. for 3,500 products from more than 100 designated beneficiary countries. Republicans had pushed for a “clean” extension of GSP last year, but Democrats want to see improvements in the deal, particularly in areas such as human rights, rule of law, and anti-corruption. During the virtual event, Neil also spoke out on other issues facing Congress in the year ahead.
Trudeau Government Calls for ‘Blitz Negotiations’ in Port of Montreal Labour Talks
The Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association reported to members on Wednesday it has learned that the federal government has enlisted the services of “highly respected” mediator Peter Simpon in the ongoing talks between the Port of Montreal Longshoremen's Union and Maritime Employers Association and is urging both sides to engage in “blitz negotiations” over the next two weeks. The truce struck last summer enabling the parties to hammer out a new collective agreement is set to expire on March 21.
Ng Discusses Trade Issues with Mexico’s Secretary of Economy
In a phone call on Thursday, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng and Tatiana Clouthier Carrillo, Secretary of Economy of Mexico shared their commitment to work together on the implementation of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement and to ensure a fast economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic by maintaining open and connected supply chains. During their conversation, Ng stressed the importance of maintaining a stable and predictable business environment for Canadian companies contributing to Mexico’s economic growth.
No Changes to U.S. Tariffs on EU Goods Pending Resolution of Aircraft Trade Dispute
The European Union on Thursday acknowledged a move by the Biden administration declining to impose additional tariffs on EU goods in a long-running dispute over aircraft manufacturing subsidies and said it was ready to work to resolve outstanding trade disputes. The USTR’s office had earlier said it was in agreement with U.S. industry that any revision of existing tariffs on European goods was unnecessary at this time, and would therefore be refraining from changes that would have been possible during a periodic review.