Weekly Trade Briefing: May 17-21, 2021

International Trade News

Trade Update • MAY 21, 2021

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

EU and US Flags in Interlocking Gears

EU Suspends Section 232 Tariff Hike, Begins Talks with U.S. on Overcapacity Crisis

On Monday, the European Union announced that it is temporarily suspending plans to hike retaliatory duties imposed on a wide range of signature U.S. products to counter the former administration’s Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. In a joint announcement, USTR Katherine Tai, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and European Commission Executive VP Valdis Dombrovskis said they have agreed to enter into talks to find solutions to address the overcapacity crisis, which they said poses a “serious threat” to the aluminum and steel industries in both the U.S. and Europe.

Softwood Lumber - Home Construction

House Lawmakers Urge USTR to Negotiate a New Softwood Lumber Deal

Nearly a hundred House members wrote a letter to USTR Katherine Tai earlier this week, urging her to pursue a new agreement with Canada on softwood lumber. The lawmakers argued that absent having such a deal in place has helped contribute to recent massive cost increases for home builders and the U.S. construction industry. Lumber prices have risen by roughly 300% in the past year due in part to increased demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to a significant rise in housing prices, the lawmakers noted. The USTR said last week that Canada has so far been unwilling to engage on the issue, but the Canadian government disputed the remarks, countering that Ottawa has repeatedly pitched the idea of striking a new deal on lumber.

Corinthian Column (Legal Concept)

Biden DOJ Argues Against Pause in Section 301 Duty Liquidation

The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday requested that the Court of International Trade not block the liquidation of duties on goods from China while the “master case” against those duties plays out, detailing its arguments for why the refunds being sought by the plaintiffs are unwarranted. Last month, importers suing the administration over the imposition of Section 301 tariffs on Chinese goods implored the CIT to ensure that, if their litigation is successful, they can receive full refunds of unliquidated duties.

Senators Rob Portman & Sharrod Brown

Ohio Senators Push for New Trade Enforcement Tools to Level Playing Field with China

Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown this week called on the USTR and the Commerce Department to work with Congress to create new trade remedy tools to combat market-distorting practices. Encouraged by Katherine Tai’s recent testimony where she said the U.S. needs new tools “for addressing the 2021 challenges we have” rather than “retrofitting” outdated ones, the lawmakers pushed for a new bill to defend against unfair trade practices and help level the playing field with China. The proposed legislation would, among other things, establish the concept of “successive and concurrent” investigations to expedite antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

U.S. Capitol Building (Congress)

SHOP SAFE Act Reintroduced

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has reintroduced legislation aimed at stopping the online sale of counterfeit products, reviving a bill first announced last year that would hold e-commerce giants such as Amazon liable for fake merchandise sold on their platforms. The bill also aims to incentivize online platforms to establish best practices such as seller vetting to ensure their legitimacy, removing counterfeit listings, and removing sellers who repeatedly sell fake goods. The act would also establish a framework for assessing liability under the contributory infringement theory. The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet is due to hold a hearing on the reintroduced bill at the end of May.

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