Weekly Trade Briefing: March 22-26, 2021

International Trade News

Trade Update • MARCH 28, 2021

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


CBP Announces New EAPA Portal

On March 22, 2021, in a trade information notice, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the deployment of a new Enforce and Protect Act Portal. The EAPA Portal will “enable trade users to submit and view allegation cases in a centralized location,” the agency states. Deployment is scheduled for March 27, at which time the e-allegation form on CBP’s website will no longer be available for EAPA submissions.

Mary Ng & Katherine Tai (First "Virtual" Meeting)

Ng Has First ‘Virtual Meeting’ with New USTR Tai

Canada’s international trade minister Mary Ng spoke Monday with her U.S. counterpart Katherine Tai, who was sworn in as the new USTR last week. The two said they were “both committed to future engagement on shared priorities, including recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate and environmental issues, forced labour, and reform at the World Trade Organization.” They vowed to strengthen the two countries’ deeply integrated supply chains, support North American competitiveness, and work together on trade issues. Ng also raised the issue of U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber and solar products, as well as Buy America provisions, according to a Global Affairs read-out of the discussion.

Steel Mill

Section 232 Quota Period 2 Starts April 1

Importers were advised this week by CBP that the second quota period for steel mill articles under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 for the 2021 quota year begins on April 1, 2021 (8:30 AM EST) and will extend through June 30, 2021. Quota Bulletin QB 21-602 2QTR Absolute Steel Mill Articles: Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea details the tariff rates and quantity thresholds involved. Import quota arrangements with these countries were negotiated by the former Trump administration in lieu of the punitive Section 232 tariffs that would otherwise have been imposed.

Beer, Cigarettes and Tobacco (Excise Tax)

Annual Excise Tax Hike Coming Soon

Canadian importers are reminded that effective April 1, 2021 the excise duty rates will increase on spirits, wine, beer and tobacco products. Under the Excise Act, 2001 the rates of excise duty on these products are adjusted annually every April 1 based on changes to the Consumer Price Index. Specific information regarding the inflationary rate adjustment can be found here.


What Role Did the U.S. Originally Have in Mind for the WTO Appeals Body?

As the Biden administration engages with various initiatives to reform the currently paralyzed WTO, tackling what role should be played by the Appellate Body going forward prompts one trade expert to ask what exactly is the difference between the “uniform interpretation” of the existing trade rules, as was contemplated by the Clinton administration in its guidance pertaining to the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, and “a coherent and predictable body of jurisprudence,” which the former administration asserted the WTO had no authority to develop?

Semiconductor Chip

Chamber Warns New ICTS Rule Will Hamper U.S. Competitiveness

In comments to the Commerce Department this week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce added its voice to the growing chorus of U.S. technology firms arguing that an interim final rule allowing the government to block information and communications technologies and services transactions involving “foreign adversaries” could hamper U.S. competitiveness and innovation and fail to protect the ICTS supply chain as intended. The Chamber singled out the nonspecific definition of a “foreign adversary” as one of the rule’s many characteristics that will prevent it from being effective.

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