Breaking news – Section 301 Statement by US Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer and list of Chinese goods impacted by $200 billion in tariffs.

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Robert Lighthizer, official portrait, work of the U.S. Federal Government

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer released a statement today regarding Section 301 of the Trade Act.

The full statement can be read here.

Here’s a summary of the statement:
1. Last Friday, US started imposing tariffs of 25% on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports.
2. Will eventually cover $50 billion in Chinese imports.
3. Tariffs are against products that benefit from China’s industrial policy and forced technology transfer practices.
4. China retaliated with $34 billion in tariffs and threats on $16 billion more.
5. In resopnse to China’s retaliation, President Trump ordered tariffs of 10% on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports.

Brief history of the 301 tariffs:
1. Last August (2017), President Trump asked USTR to begin the Section 301 process. The basis of the 301 was due to China’s”abusive trading practices with regard to intellectual property and innovation.”
2. USTR conducted investigation, published 200 page report showing: “China has been engaging in industrial policy which has resulted in the transfer and theft of intellectual property and technology to the detriment of our economy and the future of our workers and businesses. ”
3. The USTR also found these “practices are an existential threat to America’s most critical comparative advantage and the future of our economy: our intellectual property and technology.”

To view the Federal Register notice and list of proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, click here.

If you have any questions how these 301 tariffs may impact your business, or if you would like to submit comments to the US Government, please contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Trump proposes further tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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Official Portrait of Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer

US Trade Representative (USTR), Robert Lighthizer released a statement supporting Trump’s request for the USTR to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for an additional 10% in tariffs.

This follows Trump’s announcement last Friday of a 25% tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods to counter what Trump claims to be “China’s theft of intellectual property and technology and its other unfair trade practices”.

Lighthizer’s full statement reads:

“I support the President’s action. The initial tariffs that the President asked us to put in place were proportionate and responsive to forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft by the Chinese. It is very unfortunate that instead of eliminating these unfair trading practices China said that it intends to impose unjustified tariffs targeting U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. At the President’s direction, USTR is preparing the proposed tariffs to offset China’s action.”

Call David Hsu if you have any questions on how US and Chinese tariffs may impact your business, 832-896-6288 or mail at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

The Office of the United States Trade Representatives releases special 301 report on Intellectual Property Rights.

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On April 27th, The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released their 2018 Special 301 report listing trading partners that do not “adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights”.

The Report singles out several US trading partners to address IP-related issues and places certain countries on a “Watch List” and “Priority Watch List”.

As you may be aware, Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 authorizes the President to take all appropriate action, including retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice of a foreign government that violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory, and that burdens or restricts US commerce. Section 301 actions are unique in that they do not require authorization from the World Trade Organization (TWO) to take enforcement action.

The US Government estimates the Intellectual Property industries directly and indirectly support 30% of all employment in the United States (or about 45.5 million American jobs).

Some highlights of the 2018 Special 301 Report include:

1. The following 12 countries are on the “Priority Watch List” – Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

2. China is included on the “Priority Watch List” for the 14th year in a row and claims China’s technology transfer practices, trade secret theft, counterfeit manufacturing etc.

3. India is also included on the “Priority Watch List” for “longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected U.S. right holders over the past year.”

4. Canada was surprisingly indicated on the “Priority Watch List” instead of their usual “Watch List” status. The USTR cited Customs inability to inspect or detained counterfeit or pirated good shipped through Canada and IP protections for pharmaceuticals among others.

The full Spectial 301 Report can be read here.

If you have any questions about this report, feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

US proposes tariffs impacting $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

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The current administration announced tariffs on an additional 1,300 technological and transport products from China. Imports of these 1,300 goods are worth an an estimated $50 billion and could be subject to an additional 25-percent tariff.

The list posted on US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office covers nonconsumer products, ranging from chemicals to electronic components and excludes some common consumer products such as cellphones and laptops assembled in China. However, the list also includes consumer products such as flat-panel televisions, LED’s, motorcycles and electric cars.

Part of the justification for tariffs is an effort by the administration to cut the trade surplus – in which China has a $375 biillion trade surplus on goods from the US in 2017. Throughout his campaign, President Trump promised reducing the trade surplus by $100 billion during his presidency.

After the proposals were announced, the USTR has a public comment period from now until May 11th. A hearing will follow on May 15th. During this comment period, companies and consumers will be able to ask the government to remove or add certain products to the list.

If you have any question about these potential tariffs or want to know more about how to get your good off the list, contact trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

US Trade Representative (USTR) – 2018 National Trade Estimate Report.

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Last week, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released their 2018 National Trade Estimate. The National Trade Estimate (NTE) is an annual report documenting foreign trade and investment hurdles American exports face when conducting business abroad.

The entire 504 page report can be downloaded here.

Fortunately, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has made several fact sheets available summarizing major points in these key issues:

2018 Fact Sheet: Key Barriers to Digital Trade

2018 Fact Sheet: Reducing Technical Barriers to Trade

2018 Fact Sheet: USTR Success Stories: Opening Markets for U.S. Agricultural Exports

2018 Fact Sheet: National Trade Estimate Report – Major Developments

For all your legal trade law questions, contact David Hsu, 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Renegotiated KORUS FTA results in changes more favorable to US companies.

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According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative website, the Trump administration has negotiated additional favorable terms of the United States – Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) that went into effect in 2012.

Fulfilling part of his campaign promises, President Trump has re-negotiated the KORUS with these (and many more) favorable changes to US companies:

1. Korea will double the number of US automobile exports to 50,000 cars per manufacturer per year.

2. US automobile exports to Korea that meet US safety standards can enter the Korean market without further modification. This lowers the cost of US cars being sold in Korea as additional testing and modifications are not needed before the US cars are sold in the marketplace.

3. Korea will recognize US standards for auto parts to service US vehicles in Korea, this reduces the labeling burden for US parts manufacturers.

4. Korea will amend their Premium Pricing Policy for Global Innovative Drugs to ensure non-discriminatory and fair treatment for US pharamceutical exports.

5. Korea imports of steel products into the US will be subject to a product-specific quota equal to 70% for the average annual import volume of such products during the years 2015-2017, resulting in reduction of Korean steel shipments to the US.

If you have any questions regarding the KORUS or other trade and customs law issues, feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Trump Announces Tariffs on at Least $50 billion in Chinese Goods.

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On March 22nd, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum instructing the U.S. Trade Representative to prepare a list of goods imported from China that will be subject to tariffs.

The tariffs are in response to China’s policies of forced technology transfers, forced joint ventures, intellectual property theft and technology licensing restrictions for U.S. companies doing business in China.

Check back here for the list when it is published. It is is estimated the list will include approximately 1,300 tariff lines and the public will have 30 days to submit comments.

If you have any questions how this may affect your imports, call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email 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.