Trade Updates

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Weekly Trade Briefing: Nov. 9-13, 2020

Posted November 12, 2020

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

POTUS Seal-China Tariffs

Free Trade Group Urges USTR to Extend China Tariff Exclusions

A business coalition called Americans for Free Trade recently called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to extend the temporary product exclusions orders on certain goods from China which are set to expire at the end of the year. “As American businesses continue to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, they should not have to face the uncertainty of tax increases on January 1 because of a reimposition of tariffs on previously excluded products,” the group said. 

DNA+Digital Technology

BIS Proposes Export Controls Genetic Element Design Software

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security published a proposed rule in the Federal Register earlier this month that would add software used to operate nucleic acid assemblers and synthesizers to the Commerce Control List. BIS is seeking comments on the new rule covering this emerging technology by December 21, 2020 so that it can ensure the proposed controls are “effective and appropriate” regarding their potential impact on “commercial or scientific applications.”

CBP Staffer Holding Tablet, Singapore Customs Official in Background

CBP and Singapore Customs to Explore Single-Window Connectivity

On Tuesday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the signing of a letter of intent with Singapore Customs that will “enable closer cooperation in the areas of trade facilitation, revenue protection and risk management.” More specifically, the two customs agencies intend to explore single-window connectivity between Singapore’s Networked Trade Platform and the U.S. Automated Commercial Environment.

Steel Smelter

U.S. Steel Producers Call on Biden to Preserve Sec. 232 Tariffs

American Iron and Steel Institute interim President and CEO Kevin Dempsey has called on the incoming Biden administration not to lift Trump’s Section 232 tariffs. In a YouTube video, Dempsey said U.S. steel manufacturers are competing with imports from countries with “weak environmental laws” and that the COVID-19 crisis would have had a far greater impact on the industry “if the tariffs were not in place.” Warning of a possible new import surge, Dempsey also noted that China has ramped up steel production amid the pandemic, as opposed to every other major steel-producing country. 

CBP Logo/DHS Seal

CBP to Deploy Real-time Automated Surety Interface in ACE

U.S. Customs and Border Protection advises that the implementation of changes in connection with the Real-time Automated Surety Interface enhancement to the eBond User Interface in the Automated Commercial Environment is expected to be completed by December 5, 2020. The enhancement expands the data provided to sureties and surety agents in real-time via the Bond Status message, with the goal of eventually replacing the current nightly and quarterly downloads that currently provide users with ACE Cargo Release and post-release processing information.

Digital Compliance Check Mark

Corporate Anti-Fraud Group Releases New Compliance Guidelines

Companies should create closer links between their compliance departments and senior managers who focus on an array of risks and corporate hazards, the COSO organization said in new guidance issued Tuesday. The voluntary guidance encourages organizations to better coordinate risk management, compliance, and ethics functions to strengthen protections against legal and regulatory pitfalls. “You need to integrate those together,” says COSO Chairman Paul Sobel. “Make sure that they’re being managed jointly or at least integrated so that they’re not duplicating efforts.”

UK and Canadian Flags

Trudeau Says He Expects Trade Deal with U.K. Before 2021

In remarks at a digital event this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that he expects Canada can strike a new trade deal with the U.K. before the end of the year when the Brexit transition period terminates and the comprehensive agreement with the European Union will no longer apply. “Canada is a really easy one — we’re there for it, we’d like to do it, so I’m very hopeful that it’s going to get done, but that is really up to the U.K. government,” Trudeau said, while also cautioning that London may not have “the bandwidth” to get a new agreement completed on time.

Forbidden City (紫禁城)

How Name Brands and Their Trademarks Are Faring in China

The Fashion Law website examines the chronic problem of “trademark-squatting” in China owing to that country being a first-to-file jurisdiction for trademark registration. Unfortunately for legitimate rightsholders, China’s system does not require evidence of prior use or ownership when filing, leaving registration of popular foreign marks open to “bad faith” applications from third parties that are not the otherwise rightful owners of such marks, but that are looking to piggyback on – and profit from – the goodwill associated with well-known brands.


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