The NAFTA (USMCA) loyalty oath?

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As has been widely reported, the new NAFTA agreement (USMCA) contains what has been branded a “loyalty oath” among the US, Canada and Mexico.

What is this “loyalty oath”?
In short, the oath says that in the event any USMCA member enters into a free trade agreement (FTA) with a non-market country, the other two remaining countries can leave the agreement and form their own bilateral trade pact.

Why is this clause in the USMCA?
This clause is likely an effort by the US Administration to isolate China economically since neither Canada or Mexico would want to leave the USMCA. This clause is also aimed at limiting the imports from China to Mexico/Canada for shipment into the US duty free.

Is a “loyalty oath” found in other trade agreements?
Currently, no, however this inclusion in the USMCA may be an indication of what will occur in future trade agreements to further isolate China from their trading partners.

Is the “loyalty oath” set in stone?
Right now, no, the disclaimer on the current USMCA text states: “Subject to Legal Review for Accuracy, Clarity, and Consistency Subject to Language Authentication“. Only upon ratification by all countries can we know for sure whether this is in the agreement.

What is a market or non-market economy?
This loyalty oath against non-market economies is likely aimed at China while not specifically named in the agreement. Beijing has asked for recognition as a “market economy” within the World Trade Organization (WTO) since their accession agreement expired in December 2016. If China is branded a “market economy”, this would limit trade remedies such as anti-dumping/countervailing duties to be used against Chinese imports.

What are the non-market economies around the world?
According to the European Union, besides China, the other non-market economies include Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Where can I read the full text of the “loyalty oath”
I could not find any news sources that cited the USMCA section.

The exact text of the oath is copied below:

4. Entry by any Party into a free trade agreement with a non-market country, shall allow the other Parties to terminate this Agreement on six-month notice and replace this Agreement with an agreement as between them (bilateral agreement).

The official PDF on the US Trade Representative website can be accessed here: (last accessed October 9, 2018).

https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/agreements/FTA/USMCA/32%20Exceptions%20and%20General%20Provisions.pdf

See Article 32.10 (4)

If you have any questions about NAFTA or the USMCA and how this may impact your business, call experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Brief Summary of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

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After 13 months of negotiations, the United States, Mexico and Canada have concluded the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace the 25 year-old NAFTA agreement. This new agreement was reached on September 30th and will not come into force until ratified (estimated to be sometime in early 2019). Below is a brief summary of some of the changes:

Dairy:
Canada to increase US access to Canada’s diary market through an increase in the Tariff Rate Quotas (TRQs) for US milk ,cream and cheese. Outside quota imports to Canada were previously subject to a 300% tariff. Canada will also take steps to eliminate their “Class 6 and 7” milk pricing structure that had the impact of making domestically produced milk more competitive in price than foreign milk.

Poultry, eggs and sugar:
Canada allowed greater access to the US exporters for poultry, eggs and sugar while the US increased their quotas of Canadian sugar and sugar-containing products.

Notice Requirement for Tariff Changes for Certain Goods:
Canada needs to notify the US of any proposed change to Canada’s tariff schedule.

Grain:
The US and Canada will avoid using discriminatory grain grading standards.

Wine, Spirits and Beer:
The new agreement allows the recognition and protection of geographic indications for goods, such as “Tennessee Whiskey” can only be used by US manufacturers and “Canadian Whiskey” can only be used by Canadian whiskey producers. “Tequila” will also only be allowed to be used by Mexican manufacturers.

Textiles:
The USMCA changed the origin rules, providing for a 10% (by weight) de minimis threshold to tolerate the presence of content from outside the region, subject to limits on elastomeric content.

Rules of Origin:
The Rules of Origin increases the de minimis threshold from 7% to 10% of FOB adjusted value.

Automotive Developments:
Revised rules of origin for automotive goods require the following (and most provisions phase-in before 2023):

-The USMCA requires a regional (North American) value content of not less than 75%. Automotive parts will also be subject to regional value content requirements of between 65% and 75%.

-At least 70% of an auto producer’s steel and aluminum purchases must be “North America-originating” for that producer’s vehicles to qualify for USMCA duty-free treatment. Auto producers must keep records of steel and aluminum purchases and certify on an annual basis that it is keeping the required records.

=Auto producers must also comply with a new “Labour Value Content” (LVC) provision for their vehicles to qualify for USMCA treatment. The LVC provision requires that workers who earn at least US$16 per hour must carry out 40 to 45% of an auto producer’s activities (i.e., manufacturing, technology, assembly). Auto producers will need to keep records and certify that they meet these requirements.

Section 232:
The USMCA requires the US to give a 60-day notice to Mexico or Canada if the US proposes future section 232 measures. Any new measures would not apply for 60 days and Canada and Mexico can “seek to negotiate an appropriate outcome”.

Intellectual Property (Chapter 20):
Main change requires a minimum of ten years of government-granted marketing exclusivity for biologics. Canada currently provides a term of eight years, whereas the U.S. provides twelve years under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act (BPCIA) of 2009.

For copyright protection, the USMCA requires that copyright terms last 70 years following the life of the creator for works, and 75 years for performances and sound recordings. Canada’s current copyright terms are “life of the author plus 50 years” and 70 years, respectively.

Another notable provision is on the exclusion of “fair use” exceptions to copyright law. However, Canada is not required to adopt the U.S.-style notice-and-takedown regime for internet service providers.

Anti-Corruption:
USMCA criminalizes supply and demand sides of bribery transactions and facilitation payments.

What’s next?
The USMCA will need to be signed first and then have to be ratified by the respective countries.

If you have any questions how the new USMCA will impact your business or have questions regarding the new country of origin, IP or any other issues in the USMCA, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes hundreds of fake World Cup soccer jerseys.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials in El Paso seized four shipments shipped from China containing counterfeit Mexican national team soccer jerseys. The estimated retail value of these jerseys, if authentic, totals $66,390.

Prior to this seizure, CBP also seized 4 other shipments with Mexico, Germany and Brazil team jerseys totaling $47,340.

The CBP media release claims counterfeit goods harm the competitiveness of legitimate businesses and the items may be of poor quality and contain health and safety hazards to consumers. El Paso has made close to 400 seizures of goods for intellectual property rights violations with a seized MSRP of more than $3.8 million.

If you or someone you know has had their shipments seized by Customs, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

It’s official – US issues trade tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

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The Whitehouse issued two presidential proclamations that placed 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs on imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The full proclamations can be found here for steel and here for aluiminum.

If you have any questions on how these new tariffs will impact your business or what options you may have – contact experienced antidumping attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for a free evaluation.

US Customs and Border Protection and Mexican Counterparts sign Memo of Understanding.

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Credit: DHS Official Photo/Jetta Disco)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March 26, 2018, that U.S. Customs and  U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and the Tax Administration Service (SAT) Chief Osvaldo Santin signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on customs issues and trade enforcement.

The MOU/MOC included commitments to cooperate on issues such as:

  1. increasing trade and customs compliance;
  2. battling cross-border illicit acitivites;
  3. cargo pre-inspection; and
  4. commitment to work together on unified cargo processing;
  5. collaboration on agriculture safety;
  6. collaboration on agriculture quarantine inspections and;
  7. information sharing.

The official homeland security press release can be found here.

With an ever increasing trade of goods between the US and Mexico, it’s great that CBP and SAT will work together to improve our trade relationship with Mexico.

APHIS Recognizes Mexico as Free of Classical Swine Fever.

pig-alp-rona-furna-sow-63285.jpegClassical swine fever (CSF or sometimes referred to as hog cholera/swine fever/European swine fever) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. CSF used to be widespread but many countries had eradicated the disease until it was reintroduced in 1997-199 (CSF was eradicated in the US in the 1970’s). A 1997 outbreak of CSF in the Netherlands involved more than 400 herds and cost $2.3 billion dollars to eradicate with some 12 million pigs killed.

While eradicated in North America, the US is also not immune to the risk as CSF is still endemic in South and Central America. Because of this, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) previously classified imports of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products from Mexico as risky following a 2015 site review.

However, at the request of Mexico’s government, the USDA APHIS has now determined that the risk of CSF through Mexican imports of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products is very low. As such, these items can now be saefly imported into the US as long as the imports follow APHIS’ import regulations.

Importations of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products must (1) be accompanied by a certificate issued by a Mexican government veterinary officer, (2) must come from swine raised and slaughtered in regions APHIS considers CSF free.

If your company would like more information regarding importation of swine and swine products or other general USDA APHIS concerns, please do not hesitate to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

January 11, 2018 – Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews.

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As posted in the Federal Register here, the U.S. Department of Commerce is initiating administrative reviews on multiple antidumping and countervailing duty orders:

Antidumping Duty Proceedings:
India: Welded Stainless Pressure Pipe A-533-876
Indonesia: Monosodium Glutamate A-560-826
Mexico: Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipes and Tubes A-201-805
Mexico: Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar A-201-844
Republic of Korea: Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe A-580-809
Taiwan: Certain Circular Welded Non-Alloy Steel Pipe A-583-814
The People’s Republic of China: Diamond Sawblades and Parts Thereof A-570-900
The People’s Republic of China: Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products A-570-865
The People’s Republic of China: Fresh Garlic A-570-831
The People’s Republic of China: Monosodium Glutamate A-570-992
The People’s Republic of China: Polyethlene Terephthalate (Pet) Film A-570-924
The People’s Republic of China: Seamless Refined Copper Pipe and Tube A-570-964
United Arab Emirates: Polyethylene Terephthalate (Pet) Film A-520-803

Countervailing Duty Proceedings
India: Welded Stainless Pressure Pipe C-533-868
The People’s Republic of China: Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires 7 C-570-017
The People’s Republic of China: Chlorinated Isocyanurates C-570-991 1/1/16-12/31/16
Turkey: Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar C-489-819

If you have any questions about administrative reviews or general antidumping and countervailing duty questions, feel free to call us at anytime: 832.896.6288 or contact us by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.