US and Allies Contemplate Revoking Russias Favored Nation Trade Status

the famous saint basil s cathedral in russia
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Earlier this week, President Biden said the United States and 7 other nations plan to take further action against Russia for their President’s invasion of the Ukraine. The actions would include ending normal trade relations, effectively placing Russia on the same trade status as other nations like Cuba and North Korea.

The US will likely begin next week on formal legislation to implement this shift in US trade policy towards Russia.

Since the invasion of the Ukraine, the US has already, or will take the following actions in trade towards Russia:

  1. Plan to ban imports of Russian seafood and alcohol which totaled $550 million last year;
  2. Biden intends to ban exports from the US to Russia of luxury goods;
  3. US has already stopped purchases of Russian oil and energy products.

However, the US will still depend on Russia for palladium used to make catalytic converters.

If you have any questions about how new US policy towards Russia will impact your business, feel free to contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, DH@GJATradeLaw.com at anytime.

Busiest container transhipment port – Singapore.

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According to the numbers released by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore in mid-January, Singapore’s port handled a total of 37.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units – an increase of 1.6% from 2020.

In 2021, Singapore handled 599 million tons of freight, more than 2020 but less than pre-COVID times.

The four next-busiest ports are all located in China: Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Shenzhen and Guangzhou Harbor.

China’s WTO victory: China can levy duties on $645 million in US imports.

cargo ship near port
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This week, an arbitrator with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body in Geneva ruled in favor of China – permitting China to levy duties on approximately $645 million worth of US imports each year.

While this action may appear in response to the Trump-era 301 duties, this past week’s decision has its beginnings during the Obama administration – when in 2012 the WTO established a panel to address Chinese complaints about unfair duties imposed by the United States on products such as paper, tires and solar panels. At that time, the U.S. argued the duties were necessary to counteract the alleged “dumping” of Chinese-made goods in the US market. 2 years later, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body sided with China when they permitted China to place tariffs on $2.4 billion in US goods.

WTO siding with China is nothing new, in 2019, another WTO arbitrator allowed China to levy duties on $3.6 billion worth of US imports.

Since China’s entry into the WTO, the US government has complained about the US’ unfair treatment in the WTO dispute settlement system. It was former President Donald Trump who stopped the WTO Appellate Body from hearing cases when the Trump administration blocked appointment of new Judges. Ironically, after the Biden administration took office, new Judges were appointed and cases were heard – leading to this current win for China.

President Trump to sign Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in response to China’s persecution of Muslim Uyghurs.

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According to CBN News, the Trump administration will sign the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Acts” this upcoming week – legislation that was passed through both houses of the usually contentious Congress.

The passage of the “Uyghur Human Rights Policy Acts” is the first legislation passed by any nation that has addressed Uyghur’s political, economic, social and religious rights and persecution by China’s communist party. The significance of the new act is the ability to impose Magnitsky sanctions against Chinese officials who have been responsible for persecuting religious and ethnic minorities in China.

The Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (Magnitsky Act) authorizes the US government to sanction individuals who perpetrate human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and can ban individuals from entering the US.

Uyghurs are an ethnic minority in China that practice Islam and in recent years (since approximately Spring of 2017), China’s communist regime has been forcing Uyghurs to denounce their religious practices and adopt more non-traditional way of life. According to CBN, more than 3 million Uyghurs are being detained against their will.

Importer and company executives pay $5.2 million penalty under the FCA.

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The DOJ recently announced a $5.2 million settlement from importer, Blue Furniture Solutions, LLC, based on alleged importation of merchandise into the United States using false descriptions and invoices that claimed the merchandise was not within the scope of the antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture from China.

A whistleblower under the FCA’s qui tam provisions exposed Blue Furniture Solution’s intentional misrepresentations totaling $1.7 million in antidumping payments. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened under the FCA.

One year later, on April 20, 2020, the DOJ announced the $.52 million settlement – in which the company pays $4.7 million and executives pay $550,000 for personal liability. Information on this case can be found in the following: United States ex rel. University Loft Company v. Blue Furniture Solutions, LLTC et al., No. 15-CV-588-LY (W.D. Tex.). The related criminal matter appeared under the case name United States v. Zeng, No. 19-CR-64-DCN (D.S.C.).

If you believe an importer is misrepresenting their customs entry to save on AD duties, or if you are a subject of an FCA investigation, contact experienced customs and trade law attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 by phone or text; or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Corona virus’ January and February impact on trade.

birds eye view photo of freight containers

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According to the Financial Times, global trade dropped 2.6 percent in February compared to the same time in 2019. This February drop also follows a 1.5 percent drop from January 2020. Specifically, China had a 7.3 percent fall in imports in January 2020 due to parts of the country shutting down in response to the Corona virus. For February, China had another 3.2 percent drop for the month.

The US did not show any impact in trade volume while the EU trade volume dropped 1.5 percent for February 2020. Will be interesting to see March and April numbers when reported.

General importing/exporting questions? Contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu by phone/email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

What’s significant about July 1, 2020.

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With all the news coverage focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration quietly notified Congress yesterday (Friday, April 24, 2020) that the U.S.-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) will take effect on July 1st.

If you have any questions how the new policy may impact your business, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Japan-US Trade Pact in effect starting January 1, 2020.

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Mt. Fuji in the background, source: Jane Chang

The Japan-U.S. trade agreement started in April 2019, and starting January 1st, comes into effect, resulting in an immediate cut in tariffs on American farm products and a variety of Japanese industrial goods. Unfortunately, the trade agreement does not include passenger cars and auto parts. In addition to a trade agreement, the US and Japan reached an agreement on digital trade. As the US pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this trade agreement was crucial for continued US/Japan trade.

Some terms of the trade deal include a reduction in import duty of US beef from 38.5% to 26.6%, with the ultimate duty rate of 9% in 2033. Other duties on cheese, wine, pork will eventually reach zero. In return, US duties on Japanese air conditioner parts and fuel cells were also removed as part of the deal.

While this current trade deal does not address import duties on cars and parts from Japan, second round talks with Washington (set for April 2020) may result in a trade deal. But the United States maintains import duties on cars and auto parts from Japan, despite strong calls for their abolition by the Japanese side.

We have been keeping up with this new trade deal, if you are wondering how it may impact your business, give us a call or text at 832-896-6288 or send us an email to David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or work official email: dh@gjatradelaw.com.

USMCA to be signed on Wednesday 1/29.

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Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

As you are aware, the Senate passed the USMCA legislation last week. According to Reuters, President Trump will sign the USMCA trade agreement next Wednesday at the White House. The Reuters article cites unnamed sources regarding invitations for the upcoming ceremony.

This new US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) wills replace NAFTA and still requires formal approval from Canada.

Contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com if you have questions how the new USMCA may impact your business.

Senate passes USMCA, heads to Trump’s desk.

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Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

After passing through the House, the Senate just passed the USMCA trade deal by 89-10 vote. The new trade deal will now head to Trump’s desk for his signature.

Contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu if you have any questions on how the new trade deal will impact your business, phone/text 832-896-6288 or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.