A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of International Trade (Chief Judge Restani and Judges Barzilay and Eaton) issued an opinion on Friday that will certainly complicate the softwood lumber settlement agreement negotiated between the U.S. and Canada. In Tembec, Inc., et al. v. United States, Chief Judge Restani and Judges Barzilay and Eaton held that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) improperly continued to enforce antidumping and countervailing duty orders on softwood lumber from Canada following the implementation of an affirmative injury determination issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) pursuant to section 129 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act ("URAA").
On June 18, 2006, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) determined that terminating the antidumping suspension agreement that limits imports of Russian uranium products would materially injure the U.S. uranium industry. By a 4-1 vote, the ITC's Commissioners found that lifting the 1992 Russian suspension agreement would likely cause material injury to the U.S. industry, which include, among others, USEC Inc., the only U.S. producer of enriched uranium fuel for nuclear power plants; ConverDyn, the sole U.S. uranium converter; and Power Resources and Crow Butte Resources, the two largest uranium mining companies in the U.S.
The recently released second report of the U.S. Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba can be found here. The report includes the following recommendations for assistance and programs the U.S. can offer to advance freedom and democracy in Cuba, including $80 million over two years to increase support for Cuban civil society, expand international awareness, break the regime's information blockade and continue developing assistance initiatives to help Cuba realize a democratic transition. The House International Relations Commmittee's Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere will hold a hearing on the Cuba Commission report on July 27, 2006.
The Customs Electronic Bulletin Board (CEBB) has officially been retired. A complete description of where the items on the CEBB can now be found on CBP's website is located at: www.customs.gov/xp/cgov/import/communications_to_trade/cebb_linklist.xml.
The minutes of the May 20, 2006 Departmental Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (COAC) have been posted on the CBP website. Among other things, the minutes state that 32% of C-TPAT members have been validated and 154 C-TPAT members are included in Tier 3.
On July 25, 2006, the Subcommittee on Trade of the Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on budget authorizations for fiscal years 2007 and 2008 for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of DHS, and on other Customs issues. The hearing will also address other Customs issues, including: the creation of CBP and ICE and the integration of the former U.S. Customs Service into DHS, the C-TPAT program, Customs automation and modernization efforts and the mechanisms needed to fund them, as well as general Customs oversight issues.
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MT) recently introduced the Customs and Trade Facilitation Reauthorization Act of 2006 (S. 3658). Among other things, the Customs and Trade Facilitation Reauthorization Act provides for the following:
Export ControlsIn a hearing held last week on the proposed sale of F-16 aircraft and weapons systems to Pakistan, Representatives Henry Hyde (R-IL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA), the chairman and ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, strongly criticized the State Department or ignoring congressional oversight on arms sales and their risk to national security. Representative Hyde said "that a sequence of actions and inactions by the State Department recently resulted in a host of serious national security and compliance issues." "The State Department cannot persuasively justify its position even now. This Committee is determined to take all appropriate action in order to ensure that there will not be a recurrence of this flouting of Congress' role", he added. As a result, Representatives Lantos and Hyde have introduced H.R. 5847, a bill that requires quarterly updates on possible upcoming arms sales and enforces a 20-day consultation period before the State Department formally notifies Congress of a proposed sale. In introducing the legislation, Congressman Lantos said that the "Department of State chose to exploit the proposed sale of sophisticated F-16 aircraft and weaponry to Pakistan as the unfortunate vehicle to overturn what had been a constructive process to ensure that arms sales do not compromise U.S. national security." Lantos added "while I support the substance of the sale, we have had long-standing concerns over the security plan to protect the U.S. technology in these aircraft and missiles in sales to a country that produced the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network. In the Department's rush to reduce Congressional oversight, our concerns have not been heeded. Make no mistake, they will."
- Requires, within one year, an assessment of nonintrusive container scanning in foreign ports;
- Adds CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry;
- Requires enhanced cargo targeting and analysis to facilitate trade and restart the movement of cargo following a transportation disruption;
- Requires the Commissioner of Customs to develop a trade resumption plan, which must be routinely exercised with federal, state, local officials and private stakeholders;
- Authorizes the negotiation of bilateral customs partherships (such as the Container Security Initiative) with foreign governments to facilitate safer U.S.-bound trade;
- Authorizes a Customs Industry Partnership Program (including the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) to facilitate safer trade; the program shall offer benefits to qualifying customs users who use secure business systems and meet appropriate physical security requirements;
- Requires a one-portal government-wide system to collect mandatory import and export clearance documentation;
- Adds personnel for Treasury Department oversight of delegated customs functions carried out by the Bureau of U.S. Customs and Border Protection;
- Adds resources for trade facilitation and enforcement, such as increasing the number of CBP import specialists, adding personnel for FTA implementation and enforcement; and restoring and adding personnel to conduct customs violations investigations at ICE;
- Creates a New CBP Intellectual Property Rights Division, director and staff, including co-location of an ICE investigative liaison;
- Streamlines and automates claim and collection of customs duty drawback
The feud between Boeing and Airbus has now spilled over to discussions over compliance with export controls and other laws. The Seattle Times reports that Ralph Crosby, the top U.S. executive for Airbus' parent company, EADS, recently stated that Boeing Chairman and Chief Executive James McNerney was "just patently wrong" when he stated that EADS isn't subject to burdensome U.S. regulatory requirements, such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Crosby said that "EADS is the largest single purchaser of U.S. aerospace parts, buying $8.5 billion worth in 2005. On those parts as well, 'we're governed by ITAR.'" He also said that "EADS operates by a strong code of conduct and quite frankly we find it unusual to have it suggested otherwise."Free Trade Agreements
By a vote of 221-205, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5864, legislation that would implement the U.S.-Oman Free Trade Agreemen. Senate leaders are trying to reach agreement to pass the House bill before the August congressional recess. The trade benefits of the Oman FTA will be fairly small since bilateral trade between Oman and the U.S. amounted to only $1 billion, about 0.04% of all U.S. trade. The FTA would eliminate tariffs immediately on nearly all industrial and consumer products, except certain textiles and apparel, and on 87% of U.S. agricultural exports to Oman. The committee report (H. Rept. 109-574), that accompanies H.R. 5684, states that "Oman has reiterated its commitment to not enforce any aspect of a boycott on Israel, in letters on September 28,2005 and June 15,2006" and "in June 2006 Oman issued an official government circular to its relevant agencies reiterating this policy and commitment."
By a vote of 23-13, House Ways and Means Committee last week approved draft legislation to implement the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA). The PTPA would immediately remove the duties on 80% of U.S. exports of consumer and industrial products to Peru and more than two-thirds of current U.S. farm exports to Peru. Bilateral trade between the U.S. and Peru was $7.4 billion during 2005, with $2.3 billion of this coming from U.S. exports.
OFACOFAC has recently issued a Statement of Licensing Policy that establishes a favorable licensing regime through which U.S. persons can request OFAC approval of participation in projects in support of the Iranian people and their aspirations for freedom. The types of activities that OFAC will consider licensing, on a case-by-case basis, include conferences and training programs aimed at supporting democracy, human rights, and democratic institutions; educational, sports, and cultural exchanges; and independent media and environmental programs designed to benefit the Iranian people.OFAC has recently published a set of guidelines on transactions with the Palestinian Authority. The guidelines explain the scope of OFAC sanctions against the Palestinian Authority and describe OFAC's specific licensing policy with respect to transactions with the Palestinian Authority.
OFAC has named two additional Iranian companies, Sanam Industrial Group and Ya Mahdi Industries Group, to the List of Iranian Weapons Proliferators under Executive Order 13382. These entities are owned or controlled by, or act or purport to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO), a subsidiary of the Iranian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics. AIO manages and coordinates Iran's missile program and oversees all of Iran's missile industries. These entities have been added to OFAC's List of Specially Designated Nationals with the program designation "NPWMD". World Trade Organization
The chairperson of the WTO's Vietnam’s membership negotiations announced that he hopes to secure final agreement on Vietnam's accession to the WTO at the General Council meeting in October 2006. The remaining items that need to be completed include obtaining more factual information from the Vietnamese on certain issues, work between Vietnam and its negotiating partners to clarify some parts of the schedules of commitments;and further policy decisions to be taken by the Government of Vietnam.
Labels: Boycotts, OFAC