Aweekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.
ITC to Investigate Trade Policy Impacts on U.S. Workers
On Nov. 29, the U.S. International Trade Commission announced that it is undertaking a two-part investigation that will catalog existing information and develop new research and analysis capabilities to better identify and measure the potential distributional effects of U.S. trade and trade policy on U.S. workers, including by skill, wage and salary level, gender, race/ethnicity, age, and income level, especially as they affect under-represented and under-served communities. The move follows a request made in October by the USTR to help advance its work in furtherance of the Biden administration’s trade agenda.
U.S., EU, and Japan Vow to Work Cooperatively to Tackle China’s Trade Practices
Following a virtual meeting between top trade officials to restart efforts aiming to “tackle issues distorting global trade” including overcapacity, industrial subsidies, and the role of state-owned enterprises, the U.S., Japan, and the European Union have agreed to identify gaps in enforcement mechanisms and to pursue new tools for dealing with the challenges posed by non-market economies (i.e., China). According to a joint statement, officials told their respective teams to “advance in parallel” in all three areas and pledged to review their progress regularly.
Cross-Border Trade Tensions Focus of Ng-Tai Meeting
Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng met virtually on Nov. 30 with USTR Katherine Tai to discuss a number of ongoing trade disputes, including the Trudeau government’s “continued significant concern with the discriminatory, protectionist elements” of a proposed tax credit for electric vehicles under the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill. In a readout, Ng’s office described the proposal as running counter to terms of the USMCA. Ng also “voiced her disappointment” at Commerce recently doubling its countervailing duties on Canadian softwood lumber imports.
USITC to Launch Sec. 337 Investigation into Alleged Patent Infringement of Integrated Circuits/Chipsets
The USITC on Dec. 1 voted to institute a Sec. 337 investigation of certain integrated circuits, chipsets, and electronic devices, and products containing the same following a complaint by the U.S. subsidiary of Dutch multinational NXP Semiconductors. Respondents in the complaint include Amazon, MediaTek, Belkin International, and Linksys. Prior to Jan. 15, 2022, the Commission will set a target date for completing the investigation. In the meantime, one of the USITC’s administrative law judges will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing before making an initial determination as to whether the alleged patent infringement has occurred.
U.S. and Canada Expand Sanctions Against Belarus
On December 2, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced the expansion of sanctions against Belarus in response to the Lukashenka regime’s continued “disregard for international norms.” In coordination with Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, the new sanctions prohibit certain financial transactions and target 20 individuals and 12 entities, including a tourism company, a state-owned cargo carrier, certain defense companies, and potash exports.
Ways & Means Subcommittee Hears Complaints About China’s ‘Predatory’ Export Practices
In testimony before a Dec. 2 House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee hearing on “Supporting U.S. Workers, Businesses and the Environment in the Face of Unfair Chinese Trade Practices,” lobbyists decried Chinese subsidy practices, use of forced labor, and the adverse effects China’s “refusal to play by the rules.” Chair Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) focused much of the discussion on making it easier for domestic industry to win antidumping and countervailing duty cases and said that the $800 de minimis statute needs to be altered (China’s threshold in this regard is 50 yuan or roughly $8) to prevent it being used as a loophole “to avoid paying any costs or go through oversight at the U.S. border, all of which undercuts U.S. companies playing by the rules.”