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.

Givens & Johnston Secures Favorable Scope Ruling Regarding Pipe Spools.

Pipe Spools

Givens & Johnston PLLC recently secured a scope ruling excluding certain pipe spools manufactured in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from Chinese anti-dumping duties (ADD) and countervailing duties (CVD). The exclusion covers pipe spools fabricated from non-Chinese originating pipe and pipe fittings (e.g. Japanese, Korean, U.S., etc.). In 2016, the ITA and Customs determined that all pipe spools fabricated in PRC were within the scope of the ADD & CVD orders applicable to Chinese pipe and pipe fittings as part of the ITA’s Westlake scope ruling decision.

In the Westlake case, the ITA declined to apply a substantial transformation analysis to the fabrication of pipe spools. Instead, the ITA used a mixed media analysis that looked at the components individually rather than as part of a whole. In Westlake, the ITA held that the pipe and pipe fittings fabricated into a pipe spool continue to have the same characteristics of pipe, so the ITA continued to treat them as pipe for ADD & CVD purposes. More recently, the ITA used the same method of analysis, except determined that because the non-Chinese origin pipe spool components were not subject to Chinese ADD & CVD, the fabrication into pipe spools did not change this result.

The full text of the scope ruling can be found here.

This ruling is crucial to companies who fabricate goods in the PRC from non-Chinese originating components and to any importers interested in importing pipe spools that are not subject to Chinese ADD & CVD. If you have any questions regarding how this ruling may affect you or your business, please give Givens & Johnston a call:

950 Echo Lane, Suite 360
Houston, Texas 77024
Phone: (713) 932-1540
Fax: (713) 932-1542

January 2018 may see potential tariffs on all solar panel imports to the US.

Solar Panels

President Trump campaigned with a tough on trade message and it appears January 2018 may be the first of many actions taken by the current administration.

The potential tariffs involve the importation of solar panels from around the world. Currenly, manufacturers in China account for almost two-thirds of all solar panel production worldwide and in the last 10 years, China’s manufacturers have lowered the global prices of solar panels by 90 percent. While Chinese manufacturers argue the lower solar panel prices benefit the environment, American producers successfully argued for the US to impose tariffs for Chinese solar panels “dumped” into the United States.

These tariffs have resulted in Chinese manufacturers shifting the manufacturing of solar panels to Southeast Asia to avoid paying anti-dumping duties to the US. In response, American producers have now asked the Department of Commerce to implement tariffs on all solar panel imports to the US regardless of country of origin. With a fast approaching deadline of January 26th, we will see whether the Trump administration upholds their tough on trade message.