Aweekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.
Biden Issues New Buy American Rule to ‘Bolster’ Domestic Supply Chains
The Biden administration on July 28 issued a proposed “Buy American” rule to increase the threshold for domestic content in federal government purchases and support the domestic production of goods the White House has deemed critical to national and economic security. Currently, 55% of the value of the products’ component parts have to be manufactured in the U.S. to qualify, but the rule would raise that to 60% (ultimately, to 75%). It would also establish new reporting requirements aimed at bolstering compliance with the Buy American Act, while also improving data on the actual U.S. content of goods purchased.
Raimondo Defends Use of Sec. 232 Steel and Aluminum Tariffs
In a July 28th interview, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the Biden administration doesn’t plan on removing the controversial Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum in talks with the European Union, citing the positive impact the tariffs have had on employment and production in the steel sector. However, economics professor David A. Gantz argues that this view fundamentally misunderstands the effects of the tariffs and completely ignores the more significant negative impact on domestic manufacturers and other downstream users.
APHIS E-File Now Required for Cut Flowers, Greenery, and Sugarcane Permit Applications
Animal Plant Health Inspection Agency’s Plant Protection and Quarantine division recently announced that effective July 28, 2021, it will no longer issue new or renewed permits from ePermits for cut flowers and greenery, and sugarcane and sugarcane products. Accordingly, PPQ 587 plants and plant products application for these goods must now be made through the APHIS e-file system. However, nursery stock when imported for planting will continue using the ePermits system until further notice.
USTR Needs to ‘Fully Document’ Section 301 Exclusion Process: GAO Report
When considering exclusions from Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods imposed by the Trump administration starting in 2018, the U.S. Trade Representative failed to “fully document its internal procedures,” which resulted in inconsistencies in the case files reviewed, according to a Government Accountability Office report released July 28. “Without appropriately documenting the roles and responsibilities of reviewers and each step in its decision processes, USTR lacks reasonable assurance that it consistently followed its processes,” the watchdog said. The USTR agrees with the recommendations and says it will implement them so the exclusion process is improved should it be called for in the future.
CBP Provides Additional Details About WRO on Silica-Based Products
CBP recently posted answers to a number of frequently asked questions about the Withhold Release Order aimed at silica-based products from China. The June 24 WRO applies to silicon produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry, a company based in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, that has been accused of using forced labor to manufacture its silica-based products. Among other things, the update provides examples of the goods covered and addresses the kind of evidence expected from importers seeking release of detained shipments.
CIT Orders Liquidation Freeze to Remain in Place Until Aug. 20
On August 2, the U.S. Court of International Trade held a status conference and issued a two-week postponement to its August 6th deadline for CBP to establish a “repository” for unliquidated entry information. The order is intended to give plaintiffs and government officials more time to comply with a preliminary injunction in the ongoing Section 301 tariff refund litigation involving imports of certain Chinese products. The September 2, 2021 deadline temporarily restraining CBP from liquidating entries remains in place.
Ng speaks with New Made in America Director
On Aug. 5, International Trade Minister Mary Ng spoke with Celeste Drake, the recently appointed Director of Made in America, in the White House’s OMB. According to a statement, Ng discussed the two countries’ shared trade and economic priorities. Ng also stressed Canada’s standing as a secure, reliable, and market-based partner for the U.S. highlighting the strong bilateral ties across sectors, including in building and construction materials, whose industries and workforces are completely integrated.
Notice of Final Determinations: Certain Upholstered Domestic Seating
On August 3, Canada Border Services Agency terminated the subsidy investigation regarding certain upholstered domestic seating from 17 companies in China and 7 in Vietnam due to little or no amounts of subsidy. At the same time, CBSA made final determinations of dumping and subsidizing of the subject goods from China and Vietnam with respect to exporters for which the investigations have not been terminated.
Tech Industry Opposed to Proposed Use of Part 102 Rules Under USMCA
In comments responding to CBP’s proposed rulemaking regarding non-preferential origin determinations for merchandise imported from Canada or Mexico, Cisco Systems, Inc., and the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) urged that the proposal in its current form either be rescinded or made optional, allowing importers to choose between the Part 102 rules or the “substantial transformation” standard. CompTIA warned that the proposed change would impose a heavy regulatory burden on companies of all sizes.