Aweekly roundup of news reports, government announcements, and other information about current and emerging developments in international trade and customs compliance.
Beijing Says Canada Must ‘Correct’ Its Foreign Policy to Improve Relations
Ahead of last Monday’s federal election, an editorial in China Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s English-language paper, accused Canadian politicians of leveling “false accusations” against China and interfering in the country’s internal affairs with regards to issues such as those pertaining to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Xinjiang. Warning that “Canada would continue to suffer the consequences of frayed bilateral relations” as a result of the ongoing deadlock, it urged the new government in Ottawa to “navigate China-Canada relations in the right direction and recalibrate [i.e., “correct” — as stated elsewhere in the piece] its policy toward China.”
U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council to Hold Inaugural Meeting in Pittsburgh
Amid dwindling expectations for trans-Atlantic cooperation, U.S. and European officials will be meeting in Pittsburgh on September 29 for the inaugural meeting of the Trade and Technology Council that was agreed to in June by President Joe Biden and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The new forum was established to tackle issues such as supply chain resilience, export controls, investment limits, and regulation of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. Additionally, the TTC’s various working groups will be addressing the threat posed by “nonmarket economies” (i.e., China) and related trade practices including forced technology transfer, state-sponsored theft of intellectual property, market-distorting industrial subsidies, etc.
Treasury Department Issues Updated Ransomware Advisory
On September 21, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued an updated advisory to highlight the sanctions risks associated with ransomware payments in connection with malicious cyber-enabled activities and the proactive steps companies can take to mitigate such risks, including actions that OFAC would consider to be “mitigating factors” in any related enforcement action. The update also provides additional resources and guidance that organizations can use to build a comprehensive data breach response plan and international trade compliance program.
Trade Beyond COVID-19 the Focus of WTO Public Forum 2021
The World Trade Organization is set to kick off its annual Public Forum entitled “Trade Beyond COVID-19: Building Resilience” from September 28 to October 1. This year’s Public Forum is expected to host over 1,500 attendees from around the world and will look at the effects of the pandemic on trade and features 102 sessions dealing with three subthemes: Enhancing Resilience beyond COVID-19; Strengthening the Multilateral Trading System; and Collective Action towards Sustainable Trade.
U.S. Solar Companies Urge Commerce to Dismiss AD/CVD Circumvention Petitions
A group of nearly 200 U.S. solar companies this week called on the Commerce Department to dismiss requests made earlier this year by an anonymous industry coalition to expand longstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and modules, saying the duties, if imposed, would impede economic recovery and climate goals. The group warned that the 50-250% duties called for in the petitions “would devastate the industry and each of our individual companies,” threatening more than 230,000 U.S. jobs. The law firm representing the unnamed U.S. manufacturers called SEIA’s claims about harm posed by their petitions “wrong and wildly overstated,” pointing to similar arguments made in connection with prior investigations.
The Detectives Untangling the Global Supply Chain
In light of the growing importance of proving the authenticity and/or source of products such as cotton, the Guardian recently took a deep dive into the work of Russell Frew, the geochemist who co-founded Oritain, a company that has pioneered the use of forensic science and statistical models to help importers verify the origin of their products. By analyzing the natural elements that products and raw materials absorb from their local environment, Oritain creates an “origin fingerprint” to help verify where it came from. Founded in 2008, the company’s clients today include well-known brands such as Primark, but also industry bodies such as Cotton USA and Meat Promotion Wales.
CBP Recommends Spreadsheets in ACE for Entry Changes Being Protested
In order to assist with the marked increase in the number of protest filings over the past two years, in a Sept. 24 message, CBP is strongly recommending that protest filers upload a spreadsheet into the Automated Commercial Environment Protest Module containing certain data elements for CBP’s use in updating the entry summaries for approved protests. While not a requirement per se, CBP’s guidance states that the submission of a spreadsheet containing the entry and entry line changes for a protest is “a best practice allowing a more streamlined process to review and decide protests.”
Commerce Seeking Input on Risks in the Semiconductor Supply Chain
On September 24, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security issued a Federal Register notice seeking public comment and input from domestic and foreign semiconductor design firms, semiconductor manufacturers, materials and equipment suppliers, and semiconductor intermediate and end-users regarding ongoing risks in the semiconductor supply chain. The goal of this public comment request is to facilitate the flow of information across the various segments of the supply chain, to identify data gaps and bottlenecks in the supply chain, and to determine potential inconsistent demand signals. Interested parties have until Nov. 8, 2021, to submit comments.
APHIS to Test Geranium Plant Materials at Inspection Stations Starting Sept. 27
The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently announced that it will begin testing randomly selected imported Pelargonium (geranium) plant material for the bacterial pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum at Plant Protection and Quarantine’s Plant Inspection Stations located at major ports of entry. APHIS warns that testing may increase the shipment’s time on hold by approximately 8 to 24 hours and suggests presenting shipments early in the workday to minimize the delay.