Monday, July 19, 2021

Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 38-Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Application for Production Authority; Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc.; (Polyacrylonitrile-based Carbon Fiber); Invitation for Public Comment

On July 19, 2021, the Foreign Trade Zone Board published in the Federal Register (86 FR 38010) Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 38— Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Application for Production Authority; Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc.; (Polyacrylonitrile-based Carbon Fiber); Invitation for Public Comment

In response to a request from Hexcel Corporation, the FTZ Board is inviting public comment on the rebuttal submission of Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc. (TCF) (dated July 1, 2021) pursuant to 15 CFR 400.32(c)(2). The rebuttal submission was presented in the context of the FTZ Board’s consideration of the pending application, as amended, requesting certain authority for TCF to produce polyacrylonitrile-based carbon fiber at its facility in Greenwood, South Carolina. In response to this invitation for public comment, parties may also address argument or evidence presented in the application and in other parties’ direct and rebuttal comment submissions in earlier comment periods in this proceeding.

This controversial FTZ application has been under consideration since 2019, as Agathon Associates previously reported.

Ambassador Katherine Tai Commends the Treasury Department and the State Bank of Vietnam for Reaching an Agreement Regarding Vietnam’s Currency Practices

On July 19, 2021, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement welcoming the Department of the Treasury and the State Bank of Vietnam’s (SBV) agreement to address U.S. concerns about Vietnam’s currency practices. As part of its ongoing modernization, the SBV will allow Vietnam’s currency to move in line with the development of Vietnam’s financial and foreign exchange market and with Vietnam’s economic fundamentals. This announcement is an outcome of the enhanced bilateral engagement between Treasury and the SBV under the U.S. Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.

As highlighted in the joint statement, Vietnam will continue to increase its exchange rate flexibility over time. The State Bank of Vietnam also committed to continue providing information to Treasury with full transparency so it can conduct thorough analysis and reporting on the SBV’s activities in the foreign exchange market.

In light of Treasury and the SBV having reached agreement to address the concerns regarding Vietnam’s currency policies, USTR, in coordination with Treasury, will monitor Vietnam’s implementation of its commitments and work with Vietnam to ensure that it addresses the acts, policies and practices related to the valuation of its currency that were found actionable in the Section 301 investigation.”

Friday, July 16, 2021

Athletic Shoe Contract Awarded

The Original Footwear LLC, Arecibo, Puerto Rico, has been awarded a maximum $13,248,894 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for men’s and women’s athletic shoes. This was a competitive acquisition with three responses received. This is a two-year contract with no option periods. Location of performance is Puerto Rico, with a July 16, 2023, ordering period end date. Using military services are Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE1C1-21-D-1483).

Issuance of a Hong Kong Business Advisory

On July 16, the U.S. Department of State, along with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, issued a business advisory to caution U.S. businesses about emerging risks to their operations and activities in Hong Kong. Many of these risks stem from the implementation of the Law of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, also known as the National Security Law (NSL), and other recent legislative changes.

Developments over the last year in Hong Kong present clear operational, financial, legal, and reputational risks for multinational firms. This business advisory provides companies with information that can assist them in making informed business decisions and properly assessing risk.

The policies which the PRC government and the Government of Hong Kong have implemented undermine the legal and regulatory environment that is critical for individuals and businesses to operate freely and with legal certainty in Hong Kong.

Businesses should be aware that the risks faced in mainland China are now increasingly present in Hong Kong. The National Security Law and actions taken by PRC and Hong Kong authorities may negatively affect their staff, finances, legal compliance, reputation, and operations.

The advisory highlights the following:

  • Businesses operating in Hong Kong, as well as individuals and businesses conducting business on their behalf, are subject to the laws of Hong Kong, including the National Security Law. Foreign nationals, including one U.S. citizen, have been arrested under the NSL.
  • Businesses face risks associated with electronic surveillance without warrants and the surrender of corporate and customer data to authorities.
  • Businesses that rely on a free and open press may face restricted access to information.
  • Individuals and entities should be aware of potential consequences of certain types of engagement with sanctioned individuals or entities.
  • Businesses operating in Hong Kong may face heightened risks and uncertainty related to PRC retaliation against companies that comply with sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries, including through enforcement of the PRC’s Countering Foreign Sanctions Law.

Businesses with potential exposure should be aware of the potential reputational, economic, and legal risks of maintaining a presence or staff in Hong Kong.

In order to mitigate reputational and other risks, businesses should apply industry due diligence policies and procedures to address applicable and identified risks.

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

On July 14, 2021, the U.S. Senate passed, by voice vote, S.65 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, to ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States market. The bill was ingtroduced by Senator Marco Rubio [Rep., Florida) 0n January 27, 2021, and had 54 cosponspors.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

CPSC Sues Amazon to Force Recall of Hazardous Products Sold on Amazon.com

On July 14, 2021, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) filed an administrative complaint against Amazon.com, the world’s largest retailer, to force Amazon to accept responsibility for recalling potentially hazardous products sold on Amazon.com.

The complaint charges that the specific products are defective and pose a risk of serious injury or death to consumers and that Amazon is legally responsible to recall them. The named products include 24,000 faulty carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm, numerous children’s sleepwear garments that are in violation of the flammable fabric safety standard risking burn injuries to children, and nearly 400,000 hair dryers sold without the required immersion protection devices that protect consumers against shock and electrocution.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board Meeting August 31, 2021

On July 15, 2021, Manufacturing Extension Partnership Advisory Board published in the Federal Register (86 FR 37285) Notice of open meeting.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announces that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Advisory Board will hold an open meeting on Tuesday, August 31, 2021.