Weekly Trade Briefing: Oct. 11 – 15, 2021

International Trade News

Trade Update • OCTOBER 15, 2021

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

WTO Launches New HS Tracker

The World Trade Organization recently launched a new online tool that tracks changes to the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System. The HS Tracker provides a broad overview of amendments by consolidating the different versions of the HS in one combined structure and also features a visualizer function that graphically displays HS code changes across different HS versions along with explanatory notes. The toolset was developed in cooperation with the World Customs Organization to assist Customs officials, traders, and others in preparing for HS amendments that will take place effective January 1, 2022.

U.S. Businesses Disappointed by Biden’s China Tariff Plan

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. businesses are unsatisfied with the Biden administration’s new China trade policy, saying it fails to provide the tariff relief they expected for importers who lack cost-effective alternatives to Chinese products. The complaints are primarily coming from companies that depend on Chinese electronic components and other parts to manufacture goods, and from retailers that import footwear and apparel from China. “Manufacturers want to see more opportunities to seek tariff relief, not just those eliminated and expanded exclusions,” said Ken Monahan, vice president of international economic affairs at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Tai Raises U.S. Concerns in ‘Candid’ Call with Chinese Counterpart

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai last Friday met virtually with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He for the first time since announcing the administration’s new strategy for U.S.-China economic relations, raising concerns over China’s industrial policy and implementation of the Phase-one deal, according to a readout of their discussion. Brushing off USTR’s remarks about “China’s state-led, non-market policies and practices that harm American workers, farmers and businesses,” Chinese state media pushed back, claiming “the U.S. wants to dismantle China’s economic sovereignty” and is “seeking to make the Chinese economy unilaterally serve U.S. interests… and make it reintegrate into the supply chain which is clearly dominated by the U.S.” More reactions from Beijing to the Biden administration’s “new approach” can be found here and here.

USTR Accepting Nominations for TEPAC Membership

The USTR this week called for nominations to serve on the agency’s newly re-chartered Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee, which is composed of not more than 35 outside advisors. The non-compensated membership is for the current two-year charter term that will expire on Sept. 28, 2023. TEPAC was established to provide general policy advice to the USTR on trade policy matters that have a significant impact on the environment and includes representatives from a wide range of interest groups, stakeholders, and others with expertise in trade and environment matters.  The committee “generally meets two or three times per year, or as necessary,” depending on factors such as trade negotiation activity and other USTR needs, according to the charter. For an FAQ about serving on federal advisory committees click here.

G20 Trade Ministers Call for WTO Reforms

Trade ministers from G20 countries meeting in Italy on Tuesday called for reforms to critical aspects of the World Trade Organization but did not announce any progress on a range of stubbornly contentious issues that remain unresolved ahead of the upcoming WTO ministerial conference (MC12) set for the end of November. In a statement following the meeting, the G20 ministers expressed their support for efforts working toward positive outcomes on fisheries subsidies, trade and health, and agriculture. However, regarding industrial subsidies the members were unable to reach a consensus, leaving just “many” to affirm the need for stronger international rules to prevent abuse and ensure greater fairness in this area.

Use of Environment Canada’s CNMTS Mandatory for Cross-Border Shipments of Canadian Waste and Recyclables as of Oct. 31

The updated Cross-border Movement of Hazardous Waste and Hazardous Recyclable Material Regulations are set to come into effect at the end of the month. As a result, as of Oct. 31, companies shipping subject materials across the border will be required to utilize Environment and Climate Change Canada’s secure web portal known as the Canadian Notice and Movement Tracking System to create their movement documents. Fact sheets and additional information about the CNMTS is available here.

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