Weekly Trade Briefing: Oct. 18 – 29, 2021

International Trade News

Trade Update • OCTOBER 29, 2021

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

Obtaining Non-confidential SIMA Exhibits

The CBSA recently advised that it now makes non-confidential/public exhibits in connection with antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings available via external transfer links, upon request to the SIMA Registry and Disclosure Unit. When requested, the Unit will provide link(s) via e-mail to the requested folder containing the non-confidential exhibits for that proceeding. This enables interested parties to download such materials at the time they become available while limiting the need for pre-arranged transfer sessions to confidential exhibits only.

EPA Sets Out Strategic Roadmap to Curtail Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

On October 18, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the EPA’s Strategic Roadmap—laying out a whole-of-agency approach to addressing the issue of polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances. Commonly known as “forever chemicals” (which don’t break down naturally and have turned up in the water supplies of communities across the U.S.), PFAS are used in an array of products such as cosmetics, dental floss, food packaging, clothing, and cleaning supplies. The EPA’s approach would “place responsibility for limiting exposures and addressing hazards of PFAS on manufacturers, processors, distributors, importers, industrial and other significant users.”

CPB Blocks Certain Mexican Tomato Imports Over Forced Labor Practices

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently issued a Withhold Release Order against Agropecuarios Tom S.A. de C.V., and Horticola S.A de C.V., and their subsidiaries based on information that reasonably indicates the use of forced labor against its workers. Accordingly, effective Oct. 21, CBP officers at all U.S. ports of entry will detain fresh tomatoes produced by the Mexican growers identified in the WRO. CBP notes that “Mexican authorities took action against allegations of forced labor conditions on the same tomato farm” last year, which it said demonstrated a “shared commitment to protecting the human rights of workers.”

U.S. Lifts Ban on Mexican Wild-Caught Shrimp Imports

Following “close cooperation” between the U.S. and Mexico on sea turtle conservation as well as a range of bilateral fisheries and marine conservation issues, the U.S. Department of State on Oct. 21 notified Congress that it had certified Mexico under “Section 609” of U.S. Public Law 101-162 as having a turtle excluder devices (TEDs) program comparable to that of the United States. With the certification, imports of wild-caught shrimp from Mexico exported after the above-noted date will again be allowed into the U.S. 

U.S. Reaches DST Deal with Five Countries over to Avoid Section 301 Duties

The U.S. Treasury Department on Oct. 21 announced that it had reached an agreement with five countries – Austria, France, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom – on digital services tax measures that had been subject to recent investigations under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. As a result of the deal, these countries will avoid 25% duties on certain imports into the U.S. that were otherwise being contemplated. Under the agreement, the five countries have agreed to an arrangement linked to the implementation of a new OECD global tax agreement. The suspended 25% tariff on certain imports from India and Turkey is set to go into effect on Nov. 30, absent a resolution of the dispute before that time of the USTR’s decision to further suspend tariff actions.

Proposed EV Tax Credits ‘Inconsisent’ with USMCA, Warn Canada and Mexico

Canada and Mexico recently warned U.S. lawmakers that proposed incentives for American-made electric vehicles could violate provisions of the USMCA, according to press reports. In an Oct. 22 letter to U.S. lawmakers, Mary Ng, Canada’s minister of international trade, said elements of proposed EV tax credits under consideration in both chambers “would undermine decades of United States-Canada cooperation to foster a mutually beneficial integrated automotive production and supply chain” and would harm industry on both sides of the border. Mexico’s Secretary of the Economy Tatiana Clouthier had last month expressed “strong concern” about the provisions in one of the bills regarding final assembly in the U.S. and requirements for 50% American-made content and American-made battery cells.

EU-U.S. Section 232 Agreement Expected Soon, Steel Group Says

The U.S. and the European Union are “very likely” to reach a deal on steel and aluminum trade restrictions before the end of the month, with an announcement expected shortly, the European Steel Association told reporters on Oct. 28. The EU has set a deadline to reach a resolution on the Section 232 tariff dispute by Nov. 1, a month before a hike of its retaliatory tariffs, put on hold earlier this year, is slated to go into effect. The group said successful outcome largely hinged on U.S. political considerations, noting that the Biden administration is under pressure from domestic steel producers not to make changes because the tariffs have been “a real industrial policy success” in terms of higher output and new capacity.

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