A weekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.
CFIA Updates Compliance and Enforcement Policy
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency recently updated its Compliance and Enforcement Policy, effective November 1. The revised document now includes various changes required with the coming into force of the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, as well as revisions to the administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance. A number of updates have also been made from the prior 2015 version to reflect changes in the operating environment such as the MyCFIA online interface.
China to Speed Up Trade Talks with EU, Japan, and South Korea, Says Xi
In a speech Wednesday, following recommendations of the Chinese Communist Party at its recent plenum on the country’s next five-year plan and long-term goals for 2035, President Xi Jinping said China wants to negotiate and sign more free trade agreements as it aims to conclude talks with the European Union, Japan, and South Korea and conclude Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations. Xi’s ambitious trade agenda is the external aspect of his so-called “dual circulation” strategy, which he outlined earlier this year. Notably, Xi did not mention a possible phase-two deal with the U.S. or express any interest in joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Canada’s Trade Deficit Grows to $3.3B; U.S. Trade Gap Falls Nearly 5%
Canada’s merchandise trade deficit grew to $3.3 billion in September as both exports and imports climbed higher, but remained below their pre-pandemic levels, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday. The agency said the September reading compared with a deficit of $3.2 billion in August. Both imports and exports rose 1.5%, to $48.5B and $48.8B, respectively. Meanwhile, the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services fell 4.8% in September from a 14-year high the previous month. Imports and exports both increased for the fourth straight month. According to official trade statistics released Nov. 4, the monthly trade deficit of $63.9B reflected a 2.6% increase in exports to $176.4B and a 0.5% rise in imports to $240.2B.
Mexico Agrees to Monitor Exports of Certain Secondary Steel Products
Mexico has avoided being hit with threatened Section 232 tariffs on electrical transformer laminations and cores after agreeing to create a “strict monitoring regime” for such exports composed of grain-oriented electrical steel, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced on Thursday. A Commerce Department probe launched earlier this year at the urging of unionized steelworkers, domestic producers, and lawmakers found that some foreign countries were using Mexico and Canada to circumvent the Section 232 tariffs against imports of GOES.
EU Reaches Political Deal on Updated Trade Enforcement Regulation
The European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the European Union reached an agreement last week on a revised Trade Enforcement Regulation to strengthen the protection of the EU trade interests in World Trade Organization disputes. The new measures were required due to the current paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body and will enable the EU to take retaliatory action in situations where dispute settlement procedures are blocked.
Commerce Imposes Duty on Vietnamese Tires, Cites ‘Undervalued’ Currency
Following one of several probes launched this summer investigating 20 subsidy programs for tires exported from four Southeast Asian countries, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Wednesday that it is imposing a preliminary anti-subsidy tariff on car and truck tires from Vietnam, citing its “undervalued currency” among the reasons for the decision. This is the first time Commerce has based a CV duty on the exchange rate of a foreign currency. The tariffs range from 6.23% to 10.08%. U.S. imports of passenger tires from Vietnam were valued at about $470 million in 2019, the department said.
China Halting Key Australian Imports in Sweeping Retaliation
Bloomberg reports that China has ordered traders to stop purchasing at least seven categories of Australian commodities, ratcheting up tensions with its key trading partner in its most sweeping retaliation yet. As of Friday, barley, sugar, red wine, timber, coal, lobster, copper ore, and copper concentrates from Australia are expected to be barred from China even if the goods have been paid for and have arrived at ports. The escalation in tensions between the two countries started after Australia pushed for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus in April.
Large Residential Washing Machines 2020 Quota Period 4 Starts Nov. 7
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced the fourth quota period of 2020 for large residential washing machines subject to the safeguard measures under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. Period 4 opens Nov. 7, 2020 and runs through Feb. 7, 2021, with a quarterly restraint level of 300,000 units (without rollover). Washing machines imported within quota limits for the period are dutiable at 16%, while machines over quota are dutiable at 40%.