Saturday, September 19, 2020

Federal Prison Industries Awarded Army Contract

Federal Prison Industries, Inc., Washington, D.C., has been awarded a $39,270,400 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for Molle 4000 rucksack carriers. This is a three-year contract with no option periods. Locations of performance are Washington, D.C., North Carolina and South Carolina, with a Dec. 17, 2023, ordering period end date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE1C1-20-D-F065).

Army and Navy Tarpaulin Contract Awarded

Transhield Inc., Elkhart, Indiana, has been awarded a maximum $7,705,846 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for tarpaulins and fitted vehicular covers. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(1), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-1. This is a three-year base contract with two one-year option periods. Location of performance is Indiana, with a Sept. 18, 2023, performance completion date. Using military services are Army and Navy. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2023 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime, Columbus, Ohio (SPE7LX-20-D-0218).

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) will hold its quarterly meeting on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) will hold its quarterly meeting on Wednesday, October 7, 2020.

The COAC will hear from the current subcommittees on the topics listed below and then will review, deliberate, provide observations, and formulate recommendations on how to proceed:

1. The Intelligent Enforcement Subcommittee will discuss its White Paper on Enforcement Modernization to support CBP’s 21st Century Customs Framework, which aims to further improve risk management and the impact of efforts to detect high-risk activity, deter noncompliance, and disrupt fraudulent behavior by better utilizing technology, big data, and predictive analysis to drive decision-making. The subcommittee also will discuss prioritized past recommendations and any new recommendations from the Anti-Dumping/Countervailing Duty (AD/CVD), Bond, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and Forced Labor Working Groups. The Forced Labor Working Group will present recommendations on CBP’s existing forced labor allegations submission mechanisms including the e-Allegations web portal.

2. The Secure Trade Lanes Subcommittee will provide updates on the Trusted Trader Working Group’s activities specific to the CTPAT Trade Compliance program enhancements including benefits, Participating Government Agency engagement, and forced labor. The Export Modernization Working Group will provide updates and recommendations focusing on improving current export processes. The subcommittee will also report on the activities of the Remote and Autonomous Cargo Processing Working Group.

3. The Next Generation Facilitation Subcommittee will provide an update on the progress of the One U.S. Government Working Group with Partner Government Agencies regarding advancement in Trusted Trader initiatives. There will be an update on the progress of the Unified Entry Processing Working Group’s operational framework. Finally the Emerging Technologies Working Group will provide an assessment of various technologies evaluated this past quarter that could be adapted for CBP and the trade.

4. The Rapid Response Subcommittee will provide updates on the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) Automotive Working Group activities regarding the plans for Auto Certification Submissions and challenges/concerns post entry into force of the USMCA. The Broker Exam Modernization Working Group will discuss alternate locations for broker exams and remote proctoring exam options.

Counterfeit Designer Shoes, Handbags, & Clothes Seized by CBP in Louisville

On September 17, 2020, a CBP officer in Louisville held a shipment, manifested as women’s clothes, for inspection. The parcels was inspected to determine the admissibility of its contents in accordance with CBP regulations. When the shipment was opened designer shoes, handbags, and clothes were found inside. The items were inspected by an import specialist who determined the items were counterfeit. In all, 95 items were seized. If these items were real, the total MSRP for these would have been $193,740. The packages were coming from Vietnam and were heading to Westminster, California.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) protection is a priority trade issue for CBP. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, CBP and their partner agency Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) seized 27,599 shipments containing IPR violations with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of over $1.5 billion had the goods been genuine. Watches and jewelry represent 15 percent of all IPR seizures, and continue to top the list of all seized IPR materials.

Dulles CBP Officers Seize Nearly $3 Million in Counterfeit Consumer Goods

On September 15, 2020, CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport checked those boxes when they seized nearly $3 million in counterfeit consumer goods from China.

The shipment, which arrived on August 22, and destined to a drop shipper in Dallas, was manifested as “sticker storage bag.” The shipment consisted of 74 boxes that included 4,213 belts of various designer brand names, 176 Louis Vuitton handbags, 39 Gucci shirts, 37 pairs of Gucci pants, and six Louis Vuitton shirts.

CBP officers detained the shipment August 24 as suspected counterfeit goods. CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandise Center of Excellence and Expertise and the Apparel, Footwear and Textiles CEE, the agency’s trade experts, worked with trademark holders and verified that all 4,471 products were counterfeit. They appraised the products at $2,950,479 manufacturer’s suggested retail price, if authentic.

On a typical day in 2019, CBP officers seized $4.3 million worth of products with Intellectual Property Rights violations.

CBP officers and Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents seized 27,599 shipments containing counterfeit goods in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, down from 33,810 seizures in FY 2018. However, the total estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of the seized goods, had they been genuine, increased to over $1.5 billion from nearly $1.4 billion in FY 2018.

E- Commerce sales have contributed to large volumes of low-value packages imported into the United States. In FY 2019, there were 144 million express shipments and 463 million international mail shipments. Over 90 percent of all intellectual property seizures occur in the international mail and express environments

The People’s Republic of China (mainland China and Hong Kong) remained the primary source economy for seized counterfeit and pirated goods, accounting for 83 percent of all IPR seizures and 92 percent of the estimated MSRP value of all IPR seizures.

Rhode Island textile manufacturer forges ahead in uncertain times with Defense procurement contracts awards.

Northwest Woolen Mills, a division of The Brickle Group, has recently been awarded a string of Department of Defense contracts for textile clothing requirements for the armed forces.

The company submitted and won awards for a three-year contract for both Snow Camo Trousers and Parka for the Army expected to be worth nearly $13 million dollars. In addition, the most recent 5-year contract for Wool Berets was also awarded last month to Northwest Woolen Mills, expected to be worth over $18 million dollars.

Max Brickle, President of The Brickle Group, noted, “We’re excited to be able to continue supporting our troops and local communities and industries that will benefit from this award. Especially during these uncertain economic times that Covid19 has brought us to. This will help not only our company and employees and our Rhode Island community, but all of our subcontractors and their staff as we all weather the Covid-19 storm.” With its extensive background and global contacts in the textiles industry, Northwest Woolen Mills has also recently converted part of its business focus to sourcing and supplying PPE gear for federal, state and local government, businesses large and small, NGOs and schools around the country to fight Covid-19. It is currently waiting to hear on several federal government contracts related to hard to find USA made PPE.

The Brickle Group to which Northwest Woolen Mills belongs, is a diverse textiles manufacturing company. Its other divisions include Bouckaert Industrial Textiles, which manufactures nonwoven fabrics, and Hyman Brickle and Son which recycles fabrics and yarns and creates new textile products like the yarn that goes into every MLB baseball.

CBP Intercepts 20,000 Counterfeit N95 Masks in Boston

On Wednesday, September 2, CBP Officers targeted a suspicious shipment arriving from Hong Kong. Officers detained the shipment of 43 boxes that appeared to contain counterfeit N95 respirator masks. The boxes were brought to the International Cargo Port where specialists from CBP’s Apparel, Footwear and Textile Center of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) determined the items to be counterfeit with an appraised value of $163,200.

“Counterfeit personal protective equipment puts frontline workers and the general public’s health at risk,” said Michael Denning, Director of Field Operations for the Boston Field Office. “CBP Officers and our trade teams are trained to identify and intercept these dangerous goods before they can do harm to our communities and the American consumer.”

Certain organizations are attempting to exploit the limited supply of and increased demand for some pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment and other medical goods required to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other products, these criminals are smuggling and selling counterfeit safety equipment, unapproved COVID-19 test kits, unproven medicines and substandard hygiene products through the online marketplace.

To combat these criminal activities, CBP is targeting imports and exports that may contain counterfeit or illicit goods. The products in targeted shipments often include false or misleading claims, lack required warnings or lack proper approvals.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Military Clothing Contracts Awarded

The National Industries for the Blind, Alexandria, Virginia, has been awarded a maximum $14,834,277 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for advanced combat shirts. This is a one-year base contract with two one-year option periods. Locations of performance are Virginia, Texas, North Carolina, and New York, with a Sept. 15, 2021, ordering period end date. Using military services are Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2021 defense working capital funds. The contracting agency is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE1C1-20-D-B090).

M&M Manufacturing, Lajas, Puerto Rico, has been awarded a maximum $9,213,750 modification (P00015) exercising the first one-year option period of an 18-month base contract (SPE1C1-19-D-1145) with three one-year option periods for various types of blouses and coats. This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Location of performance is Puerto Rico, with a Sept. 19, 2021, ordering period end date. Using military services are Navy, Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2020 through 2021 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

WTO Panel Rules U.S. Section 301 China Tariffs Illegal

On September 15, 2020, a World Trade Organization the Panel released its report which concludes that the U.S. Section 301 tariffs in China are inconsistent with the U.S. WTO obligations because the additional duties apply only to products from China and thus fail to accord to products originating in China an advantage granted to the like product originating in all other WTO Members. The panel also said the tariffs are WTO-illegan because the additional duties are ordinary customs duties applied in excess of the rates to which the United States bound itself in its Schedule and accord imports from China "less favourable treatment" than that provided in the United States' Schedule.

The ruling is not legalling binding.

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer was dismissive.

“This panel report confirms what the Trump Administration has been saying for four years: The WTO is completely inadequate to stop China’s harmful technology practices,” said Ambassador Lighthizer. “Although the panel did not dispute the extensive evidence submitted by the United States of intellectual property theft by China, its decision shows that the WTO provides no remedy for such misconduct. The United States must be allowed to defend itself against unfair trade practices, and the Trump Administration will not let China use the WTO to take advantage of American workers, businesses, farmers, and ranchers. It is important to note that this report has no effect on the historic Phase One Agreement between the United States and China, which includes new, enforceable commitments by China to prevent the theft of American technology.”

IN MY OPINION: If Trump is re-elected, I believe he will keep the China tariffs. He has repeatedly stated that he likes tariffs as a tool to deal with China. It plays well with his base. Year after year, since China entered the WTO at the end of 2001, the U.S. issued an annual report on all the ways China is out of compliance with its WTO commitments and how that is harming the U.S. economy. And year after year the U.S. did nothing about it. Trump took action, and even his detractors concede that action against China was overdue.

IN MY OPINION: If Biden is elected I expect he will end the China tariffs quickly. Even though Biden may be forced to recognize that the U.S. must do something about China, he likely will say that Trump's tariffs on a wide swathe of trade, most of it unrelated to the underlying reason for the tariffs, is, arguable, a blunt instrument. Therefore I expect that Biden will suspend these tariffs and seek a more diplomatic and nuanced approach. Personally, I think such a more subtile approach will be unsuccessful, but I can easily see him going in that direction. He will likely also cite yesterday's WTO ruling as evidence that Trump has made the U.S. a rogue nation, embarrassed the U.S. internationally, and abandoned the U.S. long commitment to a rules-based interational trading regime.

Lawsuit Challenges China 301 Tariff, Deadline Join is Friday, September 18

A lawsuit was filed last Friday challenging the legality of the Section 301 tariffs on China. It specifically challenges List 3 and List 4. The nature of legal remedy they are relying on means that if they are successful the plaintiffs would recover all Section 301 tariffs back to the date the tariff was first applied. HOWEVER relief will NOT BE AVAILABLE to others who have paid those tariffs. The only way to get relief, if relief is granted, is to FILE YOUR OWN lawsuit. AND YOU MUST ACT QUICKLY, the deadline to file is Friday, September 18, 2020.

Here's a link to the lawsuit

https://filehost.thompsonhine.com/uploads/USCIT_-_HMTX_Industries_LLC_et_al_v_United_States_-_Sept_2020_2ea7.pdf

If you Google on "Court No. 20-00177" you will find several trade lawyers who can explain this action.

Back in September 2018 I posted my opinion that a lawsuit might be successful, but due to high cost and the likelihood of winning no one, until now, has attempted this approach.

Now, with this lawsuit commenced I suggest you contact whoever you use as an international trade attorney ask for a consultation to determine whether you should act quickly and file your own suit.

AGOA TPLs Announced

The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act ("AGOA") provides for duty-free entry of apparel assembled in the AGOA region of fabric formed in the U.S. of yarn formed in the U.S. It also provided for a Tariff Preference Level ("TPL") equal to seven percent of all U.S. apparel imports for apparel assembled in the AGOA region of fabric from the AGOA region. The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements ("CITA"), in a notice to be published tomorrow, announces the TPL for the period October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021 will be 1,856,390,368 square meter equivalents ("SME"). There is also a TPL for Lesser Developed Countries ("LDCs") in the AGOA region for apparel assembled in an AGOA LDC of third-country fabric. The TPL is set at 3.5 percent of all U.S. apparel imports. Today CITA announced the TPL for the 12-month period starting October 1, 2020 will be 928,195,184 SME.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

500,000 Counterfeit N95 Masks Seized by Chicago CBP

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers attached to the Anti Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET) in Chicago were contacted by Homeland Security Investigation to seize a shipment arriving from Schenzhen China. On September 10, 2020, the shipment was seized.500K Fake Mask

The shipment listed 500,000 N-95 respirator masks, which were believed to be counterfeit. A-TCET officers removed 30 masks and sent them to a CDC testing office in West Virginia. The CDC report concluded that 10% of the respirators tested had a filter efficiency rating below 95%. The shipment was seized under Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Adulterated or Misbranded Products.

An appraisal performed by an Import Specialist established the Domestic Value at $3,074,385.00 and MSRP at $474,905.00. The Domestic Value is higher than the MSRP strictly due to the masks being in high demand. The package was destined for a company in Manalapan, New Jersey.

“Our CBP officers working with partners in HSI were able to stop these faulty mask from being sold under the guise of fully protecting Americans,” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director-Chicago. “These masks did not meet the safety standards outlined by the CDC, which puts the public at risk, jeopardizing the health and well being of everyone.”

The shipment of masks were turned over to HSI for further investigation and enforcement.

Certain organizations are attempting to exploit the limited supply of and increased demand for some pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment and other medical goods required to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other products, these criminals are smuggling and selling counterfeit safety equipment, unapproved COVID-19 test kits, unproven medicines and substandard hygiene products through the online marketplace.

To combat these criminal activities, CBP is targeting imports and exports that may contain counterfeit or illicit goods. The products in targeted shipments often include false or misleading claims, lack required warnings or lack proper approvals.

DHS Cracks Down on Goods Produced by China’s State-Sponsored Forced Labor

On September 14, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued five Withhold Release Orders (WRO) on products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The products subject to the WROs are produced with state-sponsored forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government is engaged in systemic human rights abuses against the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minorities.

“By taking this action, DHS is combating illegal and inhumane forced labor, a type of modern slavery, used to make goods that the Chinese government then tries to import into the United States. When China attempts to import these goods into our supply chains, it also disadvantages American workers and businesses,” said Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli. “President Trump and this Department have, and always will, put American workers and businesses first and protect American citizens from participating in these egregious human rights violations.”

“The Trump Administration will not stand idly by and allow foreign companies to subject vulnerable workers to forced labor while harming American businesses that respect human rights and the rule of law,” said Acting CBP Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “Today’s Withhold Release Orders send a clear message to the international community that we will not tolerate the illicit, inhumane, and exploitative practices of forced labor in U.S. supply chains.”

The new WROs direct CBP Officers at all ports of entry to withhold release on the following goods:

  1. All products made with labor from the Lop County No. 4 Vocational Skills Education and Training Center in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Information reasonably indicates that this “re-education” internment camp, which is often called a Vocational Skills Education and Training Center, is providing prison labor to nearby manufacturing entities in Xinjiang. CBP identified forced labor indicators including highly coercive/unfree recruitment, work and life under duress, and restriction of movement.
  2. Hair products made in the Lop County Hair Product Industrial Park in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Information reasonably indicates this site is manufacturing products with forced labor of the Uyghur people and other minority ethnic groups who are detained in “re-education” internment camps in Xinjiang. CBP identified forced labor indicators including highly coercive/unfree recruitment, work and life under duress, and restriction of movement.
  3. Apparel produced by Yili Zhuowan Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Baoding LYSZD Trade and Business Co., Ltd in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Information reasonably indicates that these entities use prison and forced labor in apparel production. CBP identified forced labor indicators including the restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive working and living conditions.
  4. Cotton produced and processed by Xinjiang Junggar Cotton and Linen Co., Ltd. in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Information reasonably indicates that this entity and its subsidiaries use prison labor in their raw cotton processing operations in Xinjiang. Cotton-processing factories and cotton farms in this region are prison enterprises that use convict labor.
  5. Computer parts made by Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co., Ltd. in Anhui, China. Information reasonably indicates that Hefei Bitland uses both prison and forced labor to produce electronics. CBP identified forced labor indicators including abuse of vulnerability, restriction of movement, isolation, and intimidation and threats.

“The series of actions CBP has taken against imports from China demonstrates the pervasive use of unethical and inhumane labor conditions in China, and CBP will not turn a blind eye,” said Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade. “Allowing goods produced using forced labor into the U.S. supply chain undermines the integrity of our imports. American consumers deserve and demand better.”

In Fiscal Year 2020, CBP has issued an unprecedented 12 WROs in a single fiscal year, including 8 WROs on products from China. All WROs are publicly available and listed by country on CBP’s Forced Labor Withhold Release Orders and Findings webpage.

Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307) prohibits the importation of all goods and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by forced labor, convict labor, or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions, including forced child labor. CBP combats import risks, detects high-risk activity, deters non-compliance, disrupts fraudulent behavior, and thoroughly investigates allegations of forced labor.

CBP receives allegations of forced labor from a variety of sources, including the general public. Any person or organization that has reason to believe merchandise produced with the use of forced labor is being, or likely to be, imported into the United States can report detailed allegations by contacting CBP through the e-Allegations Online Trade Violation Reporting System or by calling 1-800-BE-ALERT.

Follow CBP Office of Trade on Twitter at @CBPTradeGov.

Last modified: 
September 14, 2020

Monday, September 14, 2020

UK and Japan agree historic free trade agreement

The UK has secured a free trade agreement with Japan, which is the UK’s first major trade deal as an independent trading nation and will increase trade with Japan by an estimated £15.2 billion.

The UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was agreed in principle by International Trade Secretary Liz Truss and Japan’s Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu on a video call this morning (Friday 11 September).

The deal is tailored to the UK economy and secures additional benefits beyond the EU-Japan trade deal, giving UK companies exporting to Japan a competitive advantage in a number of areas. It will help to create jobs and drive economic growth throughout the whole of the UK.

The deal is also an important step towards joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This will give UK businesses a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region and help to increase the resilience and diversity of our supply chains.

UK businesses will benefit from tariff-free trade on 99% of exports to Japan. Government analysis shows that a deal with Japan will deliver a £1.5 billion boost to the UK economy and increase UK workers’ wages by £800 million in the long run.

UK manufacturers, food and drink producers and the tech sector are all set to benefit from the measures in the UK-Japan deal, which include:

  • Cutting-edge digital & data provisions that go far beyond the EU-Japan deal. These will enable free flow of data whilst maintaining high standards of protection for personal data. We have also committed to uphold the principles of net neutrality, as well as introducing a ban on data localisation, which will prevent British businesses from having the extra cost of setting up servers in Japan. This will help UK fintech firms operating in Japan - like Revolut and Transferwise - to innovate and grow.

  • Improved market access for UK financial services – including greater transparency and streamlined application processes for UK firms seeking licences to operate in Japan. The deal creates an annual dialogue between Her Majesty’s Treasury, UK financial regulators, and the Japanese FSA that will explore ways to further reduce regulatory friction - something that would be impossible were the UK still in the EU. Financial services are our biggest export to Japan, accounting for 28% of all UK exports.

  • Tariff free access for more UK goods – new and more liberal Rules of Origin will allow producers of coats, knitwear and biscuits to source inputs from around the world for their exports to Japan – making it easier and cheaper for them to sell to the Japanese market.

  • New protection for more iconic UK goods – increasing geographical indications (GIs) from just seven under the terms of the EU-Japan deal to potentially over 70 under our new agreement, covering goods including English sparkling wine, Yorkshire Wensleydale and Welsh lamb. This would lead to improved recognition of key UK brands in the Japanese market.

  • New protections for UK creative industries – British businesses can now be confident that their brands and innovations will be protected. We have gone beyond the EU on provisions that tackle online infringement of IP rights, such as film and music piracy.

  • Improved mobility for business people – securing more flexibility for Japanese and British companies to move talent into each country, covering a range of UK skilled workers to enter Japan, from computer services to construction. This includes commitments that go beyond the EU-Japan deal, for investors, spouses and dependents, and a wider range of intra-company transfers. Requirements for visas will be clear, transparent, and with an aim that they be processed in 90 days. A worker transferring from their UK HQ to the Tokyo office will be able to bring their spouse and dependents and stay for up to five years.

  • Supporting UK car and rail manufacturing – supporting major investors in the UK like Nissan and Hitachi through reduced tariffs on parts coming from Japan, streamlined regulatory procedures and greater legal certainty for their operations.

  • More generous market access for malt producers – Japan has guaranteed market access for UK malt exports under an existing quota which is more generous and easier to access than the EU quota. The UK is the second biggest exporter of malt to Japan, with UK producers exporting £37m there each year.

  • Strong tariff reductions for UK pork and beef exports – We have negotiated a deal that sees tariffs fall on pork, beef, salmon and a range of other agricultural exports. We will continue to benefit from access to the low tariffs for key food and drink products covered by quotas, such as Stilton cheese, tea extracts and bread mixes. This forms a pathway to further market access under CPTPP, which has been committed to by Japan as part of our agreement.

The UK and Japan have a long-shared history as free trading nations and this deal marks an historic moment that will deepen the partnership between two democratic island nations.

International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said:

This is a historic moment for the UK and Japan as our first major post-Brexit trade deal. The agreement we have negotiated – in record time and in challenging circumstances – goes far beyond the existing EU deal, as it secures new wins for British businesses in our great manufacturing, food and drink, and tech industries.

From our automotive workers in Wales to our shoemakers in the North of England, this deal will help build back better as we create new opportunities for people throughout the whole of the UK and help level up our country.

Strategically, the deal is an important step towards joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership and placing Britain at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements with like-minded friends and allies.

Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry said:

As we look to the UK’s global trading future, trade deals we sign should be about businesses of all sizes, which is why we are delighted to see a UK-Japan trade deal today that includes a comprehensive chapter for SMEs. FSB has long campaigned for these chapters to be included in trade deals, to give UK small businesses the support and tools they need to reach new markets.

The UK-Japan trade deal therefore marks a major moment. It provides access to a major global market for the UK’s small business exporters, with one in ten viewing Japan as a crucial market to tap into. With over 130,000 small businesses already exporting to Japan, this should provide small businesses looking to grow, maintain or start exporting to Japan with the certainty they need for the future.

Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Carolyn Fairbairn said:

The signing of the UK-Japan trade deal is a breakthrough moment. It will be welcomed by businesses across the country. The Government and business now need to work together to make the most from the deal. It’s a huge opportunity to secure new Japanese investment across a wider range of sectors and UK regions.

Business will help support the Government in its efforts to secure more trade deals around the world and promote their benefits to communities. The Japan deal can be the first of many.

CEO of TechUK, Julian David said:

TechUK welcomes the conclusion of the UK-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement with its comprehensive digital trade chapter. Today’s agreement improves an already flourishing relationship between the UK and Japan tech sectors and creates significant opportunities for trade and investment for both our countries.

Since 2018, in partnership with JEITA, we have run a successful UK-Japan Tech Forum to enable our members to develop a closer relationship with Japan and we look forward to working with the Government and our partners in Japan to assist the tech sector in taking full opportunity of this agreement.

Jim Walker, Managing Director of Walkers Shortbread said:

We welcome the news that a UK-Japan agreement has been agreed today. Japan remains one of Walkers’ most important markets and sales have grown steadily there since first launching in Japan over 40 years ago.

This deal will help provide certainty and create more opportunities to continue building sales in the future in a market where our products already enjoy success.

Dominic Goudie, Head of International Trade, Food and Drink Federation said:

UK food and drink manufacturers are delighted to hear the UK has concluded a comprehensive new trade deal with Japan. As the world’s largest net importer of food and drink, this deal with Japan improves our existing terms of trade and offers significant new growth opportunities for quality UK manufacturing. We particularly welcome the additional flexibility this deal delivers in terms of rules of origin which are so crucial for our industry.

The agreement recognises the unique challenge posed by seasonality and provides confidence for UK exporters across a wide range of product categories. This deal can make a vital contribution towards the UK’s economic recovery and our industry is ready to deliver for every community across the UK.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Tuesday is Felt Hat Day

September 15th is Felt Hat Day the end of the season when men may wear their straw boaters and Panamas rather than the fur felt fedoras, porkpies, homburgs, Western-style, and bowlers that we wear (You do wear a hat, don't you?) the rest of the year. For more information see www.thefedoralounge.com. Straw hats may not be worn again until Straw Hat Day which is May 15th.

For more information, or to buy quality hats, including hats made in the U.S.A., visit these fine vendors:

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Marine Combat Uniform Contract Awarded

American Apparel Inc., Selma, Alabama, is awarded a $7,260,212 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the purchase of up to a maximum of 70,200 marine corps tropical combat uniforms. Work will be performed in Selma, Alabama, and is expected to be complete by September 2025. Fiscal 2020 operations and maintenance (Marine Corps) funds in the amount of $1,201,631 will be obligated on the first delivery order immediately following contract award and funds will expire at the end of fiscal 2020. This contract was competitively procured via the official contract opportunities website beta.SAM.gov, with one offer received. The Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Virginia, is the contracting activity (M67854-20-D-1690).

Friday, September 11, 2020

President Trump Strengthens Buy American Requirement for Government Contracting

A Federal Register notice scheduled to be published September 14, 2020, implements President Trump's Executive Order increasing the minimum domestic content required for most government acquistions and increasing the financial incentive for using domestic content.

On July 15, 2019, the President signed E.O. 13881, Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials (84 FR 34257, July 18, 2019). This E.O. changes regulkations implementing the Buy American statute by increasing the—

1. Domestic content requirements; and

2. Price preference for domestic products.

Under E.O. 13881, the domestic content requirement for iron and steel end products increases to 95 percent. For everything else, the domestic content requirement increases from 50 percent to exceeds 55 percent of the cost of all components.

The Buy American statute does not prohibit the purchase of foreign end products or use of foreign construction material. Instead, it encourages the use of domestic end products and construction material by imposing a price preference for domestic end products and construction material.The Buy American statute does not prohibit the purchase of foreign end products or use of foreign construction material. Instead, it encourages the use of domestic end products and construction material by imposing a price preference for domestic end products and construction material. E.O. 13881 increases the price preference from 6 percent to 20 percent for large businesses and from 12 percent to 30 percent for small businesses.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

National Council of Textile Organizations and National Cotton Council Send Letter to Lead House & Senate Committee Members in Support of CBTPA

On September 9, 2020, he National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and National Cotton Council (NCC) sent a letter today to the chairs and ranking members of two key congressional committees today, voicing support for a timely extension of the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA), which expires on Sept. 30. The House Ways and Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade is holding a hearing on Thursday at 2:00 PM on this important trade preference program.

The CBTPA has provided a structured system of textile and apparel duty preferences for certain countries-- most notably Haiti-- since it was implemented in 2000. U.S. textile and cotton industries see significant benefits from the program, which has helped establish an export market for U.S.-grown cotton, U.S.-spun yarn and other textile materials of U.S. origin.

The U.S. content rule contained in CBTPA provides a mutual benefit to the U.S. industry and the Caribbean Basin region economies.

The associations’ support is contingent upon the trade program not being tied to other unrelated and harmful trade and tariff provisions as noted in their joint letter.

The NCTO and NCC sent the letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and Ranking member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

See the full letter here.

Updates to CBP Suggested Template for Certifications of Origin

CBP has updated the suggested certification of origin template for trade agreements to include the U.S. – Japan Trade Agreement (EIF 1/1/2020) and the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement (EIF 7/1/2020). Please find the suggested template at https://www.cbp.gov/document/guidance/certification-origin-template.

Request for Comments To Compile the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers

On September 10 2020, the Office of the United States Trade Representative published in the Federal Register (85 FR 55925) Request for Comments To Compile the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

USITC Releases the Year in Trade 2019

On August 31, 2020, The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) released The Year in Trade 2019, its annual overview of developments regarding the administration of U.S. trade laws and trade agreements.

The USITC's The Year in Trade is one of the government's most comprehensive reports available regarding activities related to U.S. trade policies, agreements, and trade laws. This report is the 71st in a series of annual reports submitted to the U.S. Congress under section 163(c) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2213(c)) and its predecessor legislation.

The publication reviews U.S. international trade laws and actions under these laws, activities of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and developments regarding U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs), FTA negotiations, and U.S. bilateral trade relations with major trading partners in 2019.

The Year in Trade 2019 covers:

  • all U.S. antidumping, countervailing duty, safeguard, intellectual property rights infringement, national security, and section 301 cases active in 2019.  In addition, the 2019 report covers the operation of U.S. trade preference programs, including the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, the African Growth and Opportunity Act, the Nepal Trade Preferences Act, and the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, including initiatives for Haiti;

  • WTO dispute settlement decisions and other significant activities in the WTO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum;

  • negotiations on U.S. FTAs with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom; negotiations on modifications to the U.S.-Korea FTA and the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement; and developments regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement and other U.S. FTAs already in effect; and

  • bilateral trade issues with selected major U.S. trading partners -- the European Union, Mexico, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Taiwan.

The report also provides an overview of U.S. trade in goods and services during 2019. Statistical tables highlight U.S. bilateral trade with major trading partners and trade under U.S. trade preference programs and FTAs.

An interactive, web-based version of The Year in Trade 2019 is also available at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/tradebalance.html and https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/appendixa.html.

The Year in Trade 2019 (USITC Publication 5055, August 2020) will be posted on the USITC's Internet site at https://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub5055.pdf

Other reports in this series dating back many years can also be found on the Commission's website at https://www.usitc.gov/annual_reports_archive.

USITC Releases Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2019

Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade 2019 (2019 Trade Shifts) is now available on the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) internet site.

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan factfinding federal agency, produces its web-based comprehensive review of changes in U.S. trade patterns annually.

2019 Trade Shifts includes new interactive features, such as tables and graphics that allow users to view and refine, as they choose, the official government data presented. The report highlights changes in U.S. exports and imports by sector and select trading partners in terms of absolute value changes, relative percent changes, and changes in rank.

Highlights from the 2019 Trade Shifts report include:

  • In 2019, U.S. total exports and general imports both decreased though both were still above 2017 levels. Since U.S. imports fell more than U.S. exports, the overall merchandise trade deficit narrowed slightly.

  • U.S. total exports in two-thirds of merchandise sectors decreased from 2018 to 2019. The largest decreases in U.S. total exports were seen in the minerals and metals sector. The largest decrease in U.S. general imports by both absolute and percent change occurred in energy-related products.

  • Mexico, Canada, and China continued to be the main U.S. trading partners in 2019, consistent with past reports. China continued to be the top source of U.S. imports and remained the third largest destination market for U.S. exports. The largest destination markets for U.S. exports, however, were Canada and Mexico. Combined, U.S. exports to these two countries accounted for one-third of all U.S. exports of merchandise in 2019.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

2nd person pleads guilty in counterfeit clothing scheme

A New York City man has pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme to manufacture counterfeit brand-name clothing overseas that was then sold in the U.S., including to the military in violation of federal law, prosecutors said Thursday. To read more CLICK HERE.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program; Comment Period Reopened

On September 8, 2020, the Department of Agriculture published in the Federal Register (85 FR 55363 Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program; Interim final rule; reopening of comment period.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is providing an additional thirty (30) days for public comments on the interim final rule (IFR) that established the Domestic Hemp Production Program on October 31, 2019. Reopening the comment period gives interested persons an additional opportunity to comment on the IFR. Comments are solicited from all stakeholders, notably those who were subject to the regulatory requirements of the IFR during the 2020 production cycle. The comment period for the interim final rule published on October 31, 2019, at 84 FR 58522, is reopened. Comments must be received by October 8, 2020

Friday, September 4, 2020

Monday is Labor Day in the USA

Monday, September 7th, is Labor Day in the United States. National, state, and local government offices will be closed, as will most non-retail business. In a normal year Labor Day marks end of summer.

As I sit in a comfortable chair in my air-conditioned office today the outdoor temperature is expected to exceed 80. As my fingers move across the keyboard the overhead light reflects off my freshly manicured nails and the cuff links in my soft clean white shirt. As I think of my relative comfort I remember that I enjoy ease because other men and women are out in the heat and sun doing dirty backbreaking work. And that is why we set aside the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

Of course, Labor Day honors all workers, not only those who do manual labor. But it is good to remind ourselves from time to time of the necessity of manual labor. Ordinary Americans today enjoy necessities of life, security, and even luxuries, the envy of princes in an earlier age. The bright, hardworking, and daring men and women of Wall Street and other financial markets created new and innovative ways to maximize wealth and gave us the most prosperous society the world has known, and one in which wealth, has been distributed more widely than ever before. In sum, our financial markets —- at least when left alone —- do a bully job of managing wealth. But they do not create wealth. Ultimately you have to make it (manufacturing), mine it (digging or drilling), or grow it (agriculture). Someone has to build houses for the economic indicators to register an increase in housing starts. Some has to drill if we are to have the oil to fuel our economy. Someone has to hoe and weed to keep Whole Foods (whole-paycheck we call it my house) stocked with the organic fruit and vegetables we love to consume.

Politicians in Washington will talk much this Labor Day weekend about the dignity of the workingmen and women of America, but the policies they enact tell a different tale. You do not respect the dignity of the workingman or woman by destroying his job.

A Half-Million Dollars Worth of Counterfeit Designer Bags Seized in Louisville

In the early morning of August 31, CBP officers in Louisville held four packages for inspection to determine the admissibility of its contents in accordance with CBP regulations. When the shipments were opened designer bags were found inside. The bags were sent to an import specialist who determined the bags were counterfeit. In all, 204 counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags were seized. If these bags were real, the total MSRP for these belts would have been $583,440. The packages were coming from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and were heading to a residence in Brooklyn, New York.

Read more HERE.

Customs Fraud and Tax Fraud Gets Fashion Company $118 Million Fine

In a customs fraud scheme, Ambiance Apparel imported clothing from Asian countries and submitted fraudulent invoices to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that undervalued the shipments and allowed Ambiance to avoid paying the full amount of tariffs owed on the imports. At the driection of the American importers, the Asian manufacturers prepared two invoices for the clothing, one that usually reflected 60 to 70 percent of the actual price and was paid by letter of credit, and one that reflected the balance of the actual price and was paid by wire transfer.

To read the U.S. Department of Justice press release CLICK HERE.