Weekly Trade Briefing: May 3-7, 2021

International Trade News

Trade Update • MAY 7, 2021

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

Striking Dockworkers at Port of Montreal (Photo courtesy of CUPE 375)

Legislation Forces Striking Longshoremen Back to Work

Late last week, the Canadian Senate passed Bill C-29, the Trudeau government’s legislation forcing striking dockworkers at the Port of Montreal back on the job. The bill extends the parties’ expired collective agreement until a new one comes into effect and prohibits any further work stoppages in the meantime. A spokesman for CUPE local 375 called the federal back-to-work legislation an attack on the workers’ constitutional right to strike and vowed the union would take legal action in addition to filing complaints with the International Labour Organization. The Port of Montreal told importers to expect a short period of delays while the normal flow of goods is established.

Seat Turtle

U.S. Bans Mexican Shrimp Imports

In its annual report to Congress regarding America’s global sea turtle conservation program, the U.S. Department of State certified 35 nations and one economy and granted determinations for twelve fisheries as having adequate measures in place to protect sea turtles while harvesting wild-caught shrimp. Mexico’s certification was suspended owing to its sea turtle protection program being found to be no longer comparable to that of the U.S. As a result, wild shrimp imports from Mexico are now banned until such time as the country implements measures sufficient to regain certification.

Digital Services Tax

USTR Holds Virtual Hearings on Digital Services Tax

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative this week kicked off a series of virtual hearings regarding the proposed action in Section 301 Investigations of Digital Services Taxes adopted by Austria, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The multi-jurisdictional hearings will wrap up next Monday. Investigations launched by the previous administration determined that U.S. internet companies could face a combined DST liability of up to $880 million in the six countries, which the U.S. has threatened to retaliate against with equivalent tariffs on a targeted range of goods.

USTR Katherine Tai (Speaking via Zoom to Washington Conference of the Americas)

Tai Says USMCA ‘Starting Point’ for Future Trade Policies

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed last year “is a starting point” for further regional work on climate, labor, and expanding trade benefits to underserved communities, USTR Katherine Tai said on Tuesday. Speaking at the annual Washington Conference of the Americas, Tai touted USMCA for having “the most comprehensive, enforceable labor and environmental standards of any U.S. trade agreement — and, I would argue, any trade agreement.” Despite this progress, “we must also recognize that the agreement did not go far enough in addressing the economic costs of our environmental challenges through trade,” Tai said.

Cotton Pickers in Xinjiang w/ Barbed Wire (Forced Labour Concept)

Proposed Forced Labor Regulations Under Review by OMB

The Office of Management and Budget this week advised that its regulatory affairs division has been asked to review proposed Treasury Department regulations concerning merchandise produced by convict or forced labor or indentured labor under penal sanctions. The document proposes amendments to Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations to update, modernize and streamline the process for enforcing the prohibition in 19 U.S.C. 1307.

Black Upholstered Leather Seating (Zhejiang Happy Smart Furnishings)

CBSA Determines Upholstered Seating from China and Vietnam Being Subsidized and Dumped

The CBSA this week made preliminary determinations of dumping and subsidizing with respect to certain upholstered domestic seating from China and Vietnam. Effective May 5, 28 Chinese manufacturers were assigned provisional duties based on estimated margins of dumping and subsidization ranging from 20.65% to 226.45%, while seven manufacturers in Vietnam received additional duties ranging from 17.44% to 89.77%. The investigation was launched in December following a complaint filed by Palliser Furniture and supported by several other Canadian manufacturers.

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