Archive for the ‘Trade Policy’ Category

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What Small Businesses Should Know About Tariffs

August 13, 2018

This post originally appeared on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Blog, SBA News and Views.

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Our friends at the Small Business Administration recently published a blog post assembling a list of resources to assist small businesses with questions about tariffs and where to find more information about what imported products are impacted. Please continue reading and make use of the resources listed to help you make the most informed business decisions.

Peter J. Cazamias serves as the Small Business Administration’s Associate Administrator for SBA’s Office of International Trade.

What are tariffs?

arrows pointing in various directions

Tariffs are a taxes, levies, or duties on a particular category of imports. These fees are charged as a percentage of the price of an imported good paid for by a U.S. buyer. These charges are collected by U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents at all U.S. ports of entry.

How can I obtain a tariff waiver on my foreign purchases?

U.S. businesses may request that individual imported products be excluded from the new tariff charges; and U.S. producers may also comment on why certain exclusions should be denied. The Department of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) have separate application procedures based on the actions taken by their organizations.  Decisions are case by case and require separate individual applications for each item to be imported.

Where can I find out more information?

SBA directs small businesses to visit the following U.S. Government resources for more information, to receive answers to frequently asked questions, and to request a tariff exclusion on imported products:

  • Information on a Second Tranche of Goods from China with Additional Tariffs of 25%:
    • A list of goods with additional tariffs of 25% to be collected starting August 23, 2018 is available on the USTR.gov website under press releases.  (Click here ).
  • A List of Goods from China Under Consideration for Further Tariff Actions:
    • A list of Chinese goods USTR proposed additional tariffs of 10% is available at www.regulations.gov under USTR-2018-0026-0001. (Click here). In light of the possible increase of this additional duty rate to 25 %, USTR has extended the public comment period until September 6, 2018 and requests to appear at a public hearing until August 13, 2018.  (Click Here))
  • Information on Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Global Imports:
    • The United States has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended.
    • Information on the Department of Commerce exclusion application and objection process can be found on the Bureau of Industry and Security websites at  https://www.bis.doc.gov/232-steel and https://www.bis.doc.gov/232-aluminum.
    • Questions regarding steel exclusion requests can be addressed to the U.S. Department of Commerce at 202-482-5642 or Steel232@bis.doc.gov..
    • Questions regarding aluminum exclusions requests can be directed to 202-482-4757 or Aluminum232@bis.doc.gov.
    • Information on foreign government response and goods impacted can be found here.
  • Some impacted goods may also be subject to anti-dumping (AD) or countervailing duties (CVD) duties for unfair trade actions involving selling at less than fair value and prohibited government support. Small businesses importing goods with additional duties related to an AD/CVD investigation should be aware that the estimated AD/CVD duties paid during an investigation can increase significantly and a bill may follow after the goods clear U.S. Customs.  Small businesses may direct questions on specific tariff lines and AD/CVD duties to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Enforcement & Compliance Communications at 202-482-0063.
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International Intellectual Property Day

April 26, 2018

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

By Stevan Mitchell, Director, Office of Intellectual Property Rights, Industry and Analysis, International Trade Administration

Logo for stopfakes.gov websiteIntellectual property (IP) is a key commodity in U.S. trade.  Each year more than 50 percent of U.S. merchandise exports and more than 10 percent of total U.S. services exports come from IP intensive industries.  The United States has become the global leader in cutting edge sectors in part due to strong IP protection regimes. Our commitment to IP protection and enforcement is among the strongest in the world, as reflected in our trade relationships. We know that IP is how the U.S. economy will continue to grow, and that protection both at home and abroad are critical for our industries to flourish worldwide.

Although IP is a private right, government has an essential role to play in educating innovators and creators about its importance, how to obtain protection, and how to enforce against infringers. This is particularly the case when it comes to obtaining and enforcing IP in foreign markets. Although all WTO members must adhere to the minimum IP protections set out in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs), the specifics of IP protection vary widely by country. Even for U.S. businesses that do not export, foreign protection of IP is critical; businesses should always be registered in markets where they manufacture, in addition to markets where they sell their products.

The Office of Intellectual Property Rights at the International Trade Administration (ITA) takes seriously our mandate to educate U.S. business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), about protecting IP in foreign markets. To that end, today, in commemoration of World IP Day 2018, we are pleased to announce the publication of four new Country Toolkits on www.STOPfakes.gov to assist U.S. entrepreneurs in understanding the ins and outs of IP protections in four Southeast Asian markets: Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei. ITA and the Department of Commerce would like to recognize the professionals whose efforts contributed to these toolkits, including Margaret (Maggie) Hanson-Muse and her regional team for envisioning and originating the project, and IP Attaché Peter Fowler for his guidance and expertise.

In addition to the new comprehensive toolkits, we are excited to announce the launch of a brand new series of Country Snapshots, available on the Toolkits page of www.STOPfakes.gov.  The Country Snapshots are a quick and easy way to learn the basics about how to protect IP in a foreign market. Each Snapshot identifies the agencies responsible for obtaining patents or trademarks and for registering copyright, and provides their contact information. The Snapshots also list the international agreements to which the country is a party, the legal framework for the protection of trade secrets, and identify whether the country is listed on the Special 301 Report (an annual report identifying markets with deficient IP protections).

This first tranche of Snapshots includes some of the world’s largest markets. Upcoming releases will include U.S. FTA partners and countries in the European Union. These Snapshots are a first stop for American entrepreneurs who are preparing to export or manufacture abroad. Combined with our national STOPFakes.gov Road Shows and other educational resources available on our site, we are providing our innovative industries with the information they need to take full advantage of export markets without putting at risk their valuable IP assets.

Our office is committed to partnering with ITA industry analysts to produce more industry-specific products. We have recently launched a series of Industry IP Toolkits, which identify for exporters of products and services those IP issues they should address early on in developing export strategies. We now have Industry Toolkits for exporters of building materials, medical devices and auto parts, and today we publish a new Industry Toolkit for pleasure boat exporters. 

We are also excited to announce the launch of @STOPfakesGov twitter account, to keep followers apprised of new events and publications, as well as tips and observations useful to protecting creative, innovative and branded assets.  Follow us!

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STRENGTHENING CREDIT CONDITIONS FOR EXPORTING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES

April 6, 2018

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Ericka Ukrow is a Senior International Trade Specialist specializing in Financial Services at the International Trade Administration.

Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2017. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Meeting of the TFAC, February 22, 2018. From left to right front row: TFAC Chair Kevin Klowden, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary for Services James Sullivan, Designated Federal Officer for the TFAC Ericka Ukrow.

Exporters, lenders, and researchers are working together to improve options for trade financing through the Department of Commerce’s Trade Finance Advisory Council (TFAC).

In an increasingly interconnected global economy, trade is taking a prominent role in our country’s economic growth.

The availability of finance is essential for a vigorous trading system. Most export transactions are supported by some form of financing or credit insurance. However, significant gaps in the global provision of trade finance remain.

Globally, the trade finance gap in 2017 was estimated at $1.5 trillion, with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) facing the greatest hurdles to access trade finance.

The TFAC advises the Secretary of Commerce on effective ways to increase access to financing resources for all U.S. exporters, especially SMEs. With up to 20 private-sector members representing financial and insurance services providers, manufacturing firms, trade finance industry associations, and research organizations, the TFAC’s thought-leadership coordinates perspectives from diverse stakeholders into the development of policies and programs in this area.

These insights help direct Commerce’s actions toward conducive framework conditions that would amplify U.S. exporters access to strategic educational and financing resources.

Over the last fifteen months, the TFAC has focused on:

  1. export finance best practices;
  2. enabling new private sector channels for the flow of credit to exporting SMEs;
  3. education strategies to reduce the information gap across government, community banks, and other enablers of SME finance;
  4. addressing financing process obstacles that impede SME credit;
  5. analyzing trade credit insurance underutilization in the United States; and
  6. reviewing the performance of alternative export credit agencies’ models.
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 17, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell - Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

Meeting of the TFAC at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Alan Beard and Patricia Gomez (new members), Lou Tierno – Fulton Financial Corporation, Stacey Facter – Bankers Association for Finance and Trade, Peter Bowe – Ellicott Dredges, Gary Mendell – Meridian Finance Group, David Herer – ABC-Amega.

At the February TFAC meeting, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recognized the Council for its critical role in advancing the Administration’s goal of reducing U.S. trade deficits by empowering more SMEs with financing solutions that would increase their export opportunities.

“While we seek to level the playing field and negotiate more favorable terms with our trading partners, we count on you to continue empowering SMEs in the international arena. Without adequate access to finance, it is difficult for U.S. exporters to sell their products and services globally.”

He also encouraged Council members to identify how emerging technologies, such as blockchain, could facilitate trade finance solutions and reduce risk for U.S. SME exporters.

The TFAC also welcomed Secretary Wilbur Ross’ new appointed members this year:

  • Steven Bash, Senior Vice President, International Banking, City National Bank
  • Alan Beard, Managing Director, Interlink Capital Strategies
  • Russell D’Souza, Vice President, Corporate Treasurer, Hanesbrands, Inc.
  • Patricia Gomes, Managing Director, Regional Head Global Trade and Receivables Finance North America, HSBC Bank USA, N.A.
  • William Browning, Senior Vice President, Business Credit – Trade Finance Manager, First National Bank
Photo of TFAC meeting in progress, Feb. 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken - National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera - The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann - Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul - Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

Meeting of the TFA at the Commerce Department, February 22, 2018. From left to right: Todd McCracken – National Small Business Association, Sergio Rodriguera – The Credit Junction, Karsten Herrmann – Munich Reinsurance America, Tim Gaul – Caterpillar, and new members Russell D’Souza and Steven Bash.

These new appointees expand the Council’s expertise in their representation of both users and providers of trade finance in the manufacturing, banking, and management consulting services sectors.

The TFAC expects to discuss improving the credit conditions and diversifying financing sources for U.S. exporters at their Spring meeting.

If you would like to learn more about the TFAC, you can visit our website or you can contact us at TFC@trade.gov.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the TFAC, stay tuned! The Council may be looking for applicants this summer. You can learn more here.

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Administration Moves Forward with Plans to Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Seeks Comments from the U.S. Public

May 23, 2017

John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere

On May 18, the Administration formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As provided by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, this notification triggers a 90-day period before negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin. As part of the 90-day process – and in an effort to hear from you – the Administration has published a Federal Register Notice (FRN) soliciting public comments on the renegotiation. Per the FRN, the Administration seeks comments on general and product-specific negotiating objectives, as well as comments on specific provisions.  Following the comment period, a public hearing will be held at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The FRN seeks comments on a total of seventeen topics that will help inform the direction, focus, and content of the NAFTA negotiations. These include digital trade, intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises.  Written comments must be submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative no later than Monday, June 12, 2017. To access the FRN for more detailed information and submission instructions, please click here.

Stakeholder consultation is crucial to ensuring our trade agreements are reflective of what the U.S. economy needs to thrive and grow. This is a great opportunity for your voice to be heard. I hope your organization will take the time to submit input that provides the U.S. government with actionable recommendations that will generate meaningful outcomes for U.S. businesses, workers, consumers, farmers, and ranchers.

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Provide Input on the United States Trade Deficit

May 5, 2017

The Trump administration is analyzing the causes of America’s persistent and massive trade deficits. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is asking for input from American stakeholders on the factors that contribute to the more than $500-billion-annual goods and services trade deficit facing the United States. The comment period is already underway with the deadline for submissions on Wednesday, May 10. The Department of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 18, at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., at 9:30 am.

This hearing and request for comments allows all American stakeholders to provide relevant information on the effects of international trade with the countries with which the United States has significant bilateral trade deficit in goods.

Reducing or eliminating these trade deficits will usher in a new era of prosperity for American companies and workers. If your company or industrial sector is experiencing problems exporting goods or services to China, Mexico, Europe, Japan, India, Korea or any other major foreign market, then we want to hear your story, as well as your ideas on how to fix the trade deficit. We also want to hear from you if your company or sector is being harmed by illegally subsidized or dumped foreign imports.

Comments will be submitted in a report to President Trump. This information will help the administration renegotiate trade deals and more effectively deter and punish trade abuses when they occur. Differential tariffs, non-tariff barriers, dumping, and unfair subsidies have reduced exports, harmed American workers, and shuttered U.S. businesses. The report will include an examination of how the United States’ trade relationships impact job creation and wage growth at home.

Information on submitting comments or requests to appear at the hearing can be found here.

 

 

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Initiative to Facilitate Data Flows in Asia Scores Big Wins

April 18, 2017

Michelle Sylvester-Jose is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration

The ability of U.S. businesses to transfer data across borders received a big boost last month as Singapore, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines communicated their plans to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system. The three economies join South Korea, which submitted its Intent to Participate earlier this year. With these new additions, the CBPR system will cover over a half billion Internet users.

Once implemented, companies across all sectors in the United States will be able to benefit from uninterrupted data flows in these markets, enabling them to sell more goods and services and support American jobs. As these economies take the next steps towards participation in the CBPR system, the Department of Commerce will continue its work to encourage additional APEC economies to join, expanding markets in the Asia-Pacific region where the CBPR system will be available for use by U.S. businesses.

Since APEC leaders first endorsed the CBPR system in 2011, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Japan have joined the system. The APEC CBPR system was developed by the 21 APEC member economies in consultation with industry and civil society to build consumer, business and regulator trust in cross border flows of personal information. The APEC CBPR system requires participating businesses to develop and implement data privacy policies consistent with the APEC Privacy Framework. Participation in the CBPR system is voluntary, but once an organization joins and certifies to the principles, its commitments are legally enforceable. Beyond facilitating data transfers across borders, the CBPR system increases privacy protections to the benefit of consumers and provides companies with a mechanism to demonstrate strong privacy protections and a basis upon which to build a global compliance system.

For more information and updates on the Department of Commerce’s work on the APEC CBPR System, contact Michael Rose (Michael.Rose@trade.gov) or Andrew Flavin (Andrew.Flavin@trade.gov).

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Department of Commerce Releases Report on Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Petitions

April 17, 2017

Morgan Barr, Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis in ITA’s Industry & Analysis Division

On April 10, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., released the Department’s report on petitions submitted to temporarily reduce or suspend the tariffs paid on particular imported products. With this report, Commerce completes an important step in the new process outlined by Congress in The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (AMCA) of 2016.

When more than 2,500 petitions were submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) at the end of 2016, Commerce got to work on its review.  Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service were charged with determining whether or not domestic production of the article that is the subject of each petition exists and, if so, whether a domestic producer of the article objects to the petition.  Commerce also reviewed all submitted public comments.  An ITA team also reviewed each petition to identify any possible overlap with antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders.

In addition, Commerce worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to incorporate its comments concerning any technical changes to the petitions’ article descriptions that are necessary for purposes of customs administration upon importation.

Under the AMCA, the USITC will take the Commerce report into account before making its final recommendation to Congress on whether a requested product should be included in Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) legislation. The USITC will deliver its preliminary report on MTBs to Congress in June.

The Commerce report can be found at http://trade.gov/mtbs

Additional information on the MTB process can be found at https://mtbps.usitc.gov/external/