US-China Trade Deadline – March 1, 2019.

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As reported by the Guardian, over the weekend, Robert Lighthizer appeared on TV and spoke regarding several trade issues:

  1. The Trump administration is set to impose further duties on Chinese goods on March 1, 2019 if a trade deal is not reached. The March 1st deadline marks the end of 90 days starting December 1 of this month.
  2. The US Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer was chosen by Trump to negotiate the trade deal and Lighthizer told CBS’s Face the Nation that March 1, 2019 is “a hard deadline”.
  3. In other news, at Trump’s last meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, both sides announced a truce and delay in the scheduled January 1, 2019 increase in tariffs to 25% from 10% on approximately $200 billion of Chinese goods.
  4. In response to last Monday’s arrest of Huawei’s CFO, Lighthizer indicated the two issues are separate (trade on one side and law enforcement on the other side).
  5. Lighthizer indicated that part of the negotiations require China to increase purchases of US goods along.
  6. Other requirements for China would be changes to the rules requiring American firms to provide technology to Chinese partners as a condition of doing business.

Check back for more information as it becomes available. Also, if you have any goods scheduled under “List 3” and have questions about what the delay may mean to your imports under List 3, feel free to give me a call, 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Trump may end special trade status with Hong Kong

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According to Bloomberg – the U.S-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended Congress to reassess Hong Kong’s special trading status for sensitive US technology imports. Since 1992, the US-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 treats Hong Kong as fully autonomous for trade and economic matters even after Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. As such, Hong Kong has not been impacted by the current China tariffs and is also supported by the US in the WTO.

The report indicated that Beijing’s actions toward Hong Kong “continue to run counter to China’s promise to uphold Hong Kong’s autonomy”. The report further states that President Trump could issue an executive order suspending these privileges to Hong Kong if he believes Hong Kong is not autonomous from Beijing.

If President Trump were to revoke the special trade status with Hong Kong regarding exports of dual-use technology (technology that can be used by consumers and the military) to Hong Kong.

The Bloomberg article quoted Hong Kong legislature member, Felix Chung: “The Western community would look at Hong Kong with different eyes and may not even trust Hong Kong. The business sector cannot take this kind of risk.”

Will follow up with more updates if and when available.

EU approves counter tariffs against US steel and aluminum.

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In response to US tariffs on steel and aluminum, all members of the EU unanimously approved a plan to impose import duties on $3.3 billion worth of US products of steel and aluminum.

Further details will be released in 3 days as they are available and duties are expected to be in place later this month or early July (the next scheduled meeting is June 20th).

Questions, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Trump administration considering new tariffs on imported vehicles.

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Reuters reports the Trump administration may consider imposing new tariffs on imported vehicles based under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

A little bit of background – a section 232 investigation is conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended and the purpose of a 232 investigation is to determine the effect of imports on the national security. Investigations may be initiated based on an application from an interested party, a request from the head of any department or agency, or may be self-initiated by the Secretary of Commerce.

Reuters reports the administration is currently considering tariffs of up to 25 percent for imported vehicles. As this was just announced, the plan is still not yet implemented and will receive much feedback from interest groups, foreign trading partners, domestic dealers of importer cars and anyone else involved in the import car business.

Check back for the latest news. If you have any questions about the current steel and aluminum tariffs initiated under section 232, contact experienced trade attorney – David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Deal reached to allow ZTE to purchase U.S. hardware and software?

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ZTE Campus in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China; By Brücke-Osteuropa – Own work, Public Domain

According to a Wall Street Journal article dated May 22nd, the US and China have reached a tentative deal on what steps ZTE could take in order for the Trump administration to remove the ban preventing U.S. companies from selling hardware and software to ZTE.

As previously mentioned on this blog, U.S. companies were barred for selling components and software to ZTE for a period of 7 years due to ZTE not complying with the terms of a 2017 plea deal for violations related to shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea.

Citing sources close to the negotiation, the WSJ reported ZTE would need to make management changes, changes in the board and payment of additional fines.

Check back for more updates to the ongoing ZTE issue as they become available.

For any questions about denial orders, ZTE, customs or trade law, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Trump delays decision on steel and aluminium tariffs.

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A little background – back in March 2018, President Trump imposed worldwide tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminum. Countries such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union were temporarily exempted from these tariffs.

Later in April, the US gave South Korea a permanent exemption from these tariffs in exchange for a 30% reduction of SK exports of steel to the United States.

One country not exempted was China, and as posted previously on this blog, China retaliated with their own duties on many US imports to the middle kingdom.

Fast forward to May 1st and the current administration has extended negotiations on steel and aluminium tariffs for an additional 30 days with Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Tentative agreements have been reached with Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

Check back here for more details as they become available.

Section 232 – Duties do not apply to goods coming from these countries until May 1, 2018.

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Until May 1, 2018, the Section 232 duties do not apply to goods coming from:

• Argentina;

• Australia;

• Brazil;

• Canada;

• Mexico;

• the member countries of the European Union; and

• South Korea.

After that time, the President will review whether to continue exempting these countries from the order.

Furthermore, the most recent customs message also says that admissions into FTZs can only be made with a privileged foreign status, which closes the previous FTZ loophole.

Any Section 232 questions? Call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Department of the Treasury – List of Countries Requiring Cooperation with an International Boycott.

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According a January 8, 2018 Federal Register notice here, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) published it’s quarterly “List of Countries Requiring Cooperation with International Boycott”. According to the notice, the following countries do require or may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott (within the meaning of section 999(b)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986:

Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (all 9 of these countries have previously been designated as boycotting countries).

The Treasury rules apply to U.S. taxpayers, including but not limited to members of a controlled group, regardless of whether the transaction involves U.S. goods or services. The rules do impose reporting requirements on U.S. taxpapers and their related companies. If taxpayers have coopreated with an unsanctioned boycott, they are denied certain tax benefits as a peanlty. U.S. taxpapers must report anything related to boycotting countries by filing IRS Form 5713 and attaching to the taxpayer’s federal tax return.

If your company does business overseas, it is important to be aware of reporting found instances of boycott laws and regulations and ensure your company is in compliance with all of the rules. We find our clients sometimes overlook the boycott issue, unfortunately Customs will not, and failure to comply with boycott rules may result in significant penalties.

If you have any questions regarding boycotts, contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issues their 2017 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets.

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On January 11, 2018, the USTR released their report on “notorious markets”. As the name suggests, the USTR issues annual reviews of cities, places or shopping areas (both physical and online) that are believed to be involved in large commercial-scale copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. In addition to financial losses, the USTR says copyright piracy and counterfeit goods undermine advantages to innovation, creativity of US workers while also posing risks to consumer health and safety.

The notorious market list (NML) maintained by the USTR highlights physical and online marketplaces that “reportedly engage in, facilitate, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from substantial piracy and counterfeiting”. The list includes 18 physical markets and over 20 online marketplaces. The USTR does note that the NML list does not make findings of legal violations nor reflects the US analysis of the IP protection and enforcement climate in the countries in which the listed markets are found.

The report focus this year is on “illicit streaming devices” that includes streaming, on-demand, and over-the-top media service providers or other piracy applications that allow users to stream content, download or otherwise access information. Such streaming devices include Amazon fire TV sticks that are “jailbroken” or have the “Kodi” application installed. Other lesser known manufacturers also sell and market such stream devices using keywords such as: mini tv, tv box, stream, kodi, internet media player, tv browser, android tv, or variations thereof. The USTR estimates pirated content viewed on these streaming devices cost up to $840 million in lost revenue in the US and over $4-5 billion a year to the entertainment industry.

The USTR report spends the remaining 35 pages of the report highlighting various websites and physical brick-and-morter markets worldwide that may contribute to the sale and distribution of counterfeit and intellectual property infringing products.

If you have had your imported goods seized by Customs due to suspected intellectual property and trademark violations, call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com. Certain time limitations do apply and you need legal representation.

USITC Votes to Continue Investigations on Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet from China.

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According to News Release 18-008 from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) website (found here), the USITC voted to continue investigations on common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The USITC typically continues investigations if they believe there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured due to imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The “material injury” results because the USITC believes the manufacturing of aluminum sheet is being subsidized and sold in the US at a cost lower than “fair value”.

A continuation of an investigation means the US Department of Commerce (Commerce) will continue antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. The due date for the preliminary countervailing duty determination is due February 1, 2018. The antidumping duy determination is due on April 17, 2018.

The investigation of common alloy aluminum sheet from China can be found in Investigation Numbers 701-TA-591 and 731-TA-1399, publication number 4757, dated January 2018.

If you have any questions about these orders, or want to know if any of the products you import may be subject to dumping, please feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.