“President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China. I disagree very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy,” Blinken told senators at his confirmation hearing. Read more HERE
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
A genuine fur felt, made in USA, Steton fedora, from Hatco, a "thank you" for some services from Agathon Associates. I surprised my wife with it so she could make it a birthday present to me. Like a 1940s Film Noir detective, I'll wear it while ferreting out textile fraud.
Friday, January 15, 2021
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers at John F. Kennedy International Airport assigned to the Cargo Control and Enforcement Division seized over 100,000 Counterfeit 3M N95 masks in two shipments from Hong Kong.
The Import Specialists from CBP’s Apparel Footwear & Textiles Center of Excellence and Expertise determined that both shipments were in fact counterfeit. CBP consulted with 3M who confirmed that the merchandise was not authentic. In total there were 144,000 pieces of counterfeit merchandise seized under 19 USC § 1526(e). If genuine the goods would have had a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $158,400.
Counterfeit N95 masks could end up in healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and clinics. Since they are counterfeit, they may not meet the standards of the legitimate manufacturer and may not offer the labeled level of efficacy. Unsuspecting users, including surgeons, nurses and other healthcare professionals, may not be getting the level of protection needed to operate safely while conducting their important duties.
Read more HERE.
The report finds that "This past year has brought very few, if any, positive developments in terms of Russia’s implementation of a WTO compliant trade regime. On a positive note, consistent with its WTO commitments, Russia has implemented all of its final tariff bindings. However, in most other areas, Russia continues to reject the market-opening goals of the WTO."
USTR Finds Vietnam's Currency Manipulation is Unreasable and Burdenous Restriction on U.S. Commerce, but Declines to Take Action
The U.S. Trade Representative has issued findings in the Section 301 investigation of Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to currency valuation, concluding that Vietnam 's acts, policies, and practices including excessive foreign exchange market interventions and other related actions, taken in their totality, are unreasonable and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. In making these findings, USTR has consulted with the Department of the Treasury as to matters of currency valuation and Vietnam’s exchange rate policy.
USTR is not taking any specific actions in connection with the findings at this time but will continue to evaluate all available options. The Section 301 investigation was initiated in October 2020.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Steve Merch, director of supplier operations for the clothing and textiles supply chain at Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, leads a team of contracting specialists and technical staff who are procuring textiles-based items ranging from nitrile gloves to face masks for DOD, HHS and FEMA. Merch and his team of contracting specialists and technical staff have worked overtime since March to procure textiles-based items ranging from nitrile gloves to face masks for the Defense Department, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They provided millions of reusable face masks, several versions of disposable coveralls and non-surgical gloves to DOD customers, as well as disposable protective gowns and protective coveralls for FEMA and surgical face masks and isolation gowns to replenish the HHS-managed Strategic National Stockpile. Read more HERE.
On January 14, 2021, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released the findings of its 2020 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy (the Notorious Markets List), which highlights online and physical markets that reportedly engage in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.
“Holding intellectual property rights violators accountable and ensuring that American innovators and creators have a full and fair opportunity to use and profit from their work is critical for both physical and online markets,” said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The 2020 report includes for the first time a section addressing the role of Internet platforms in facilitating the importation of counterfeit and pirated goods into the United States. “Today, the greatest risk of importation of counterfeit and pirated goods, harming both U.S. content creators and U.S. consumers, is posed not by foreign flea markets and dark web sites but by inadequate policies and inadequate action by e-commerce companies that market and sell foreign products to American consumers,” stated Ambassador Lighthizer. “Combatting piracy and counterfeits will require sustained effort by both the federal government and by companies that profit from the sale of such goods.”
In addition to addressing the role of e-commerce in facilitating the sale of pirated and counterfeit goods, the 2020 Notorious Markets report identifies 39 online markets and 34 physical markets that are reported to engage in or facilitate substantial trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy. This activity harms the American economy by undermining the innovation and intellectual property rights of U.S. IP owners in foreign markets, and it harms American consumers as well. An estimated 2.5 percent, or nearly half a trillion dollars’ worth, of imports worldwide are counterfeit and pirated products.
USTR initiated this Review on October 1, 2020, through publication in the Federal Register of a request for public comments. The request for comments and the public’s responses are online at www.regulations.gov, Docket number USTR-2020-0035.
To read the 2020 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy, click here.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Monday, January 18th, U.S. government offices, and much of private business other than retail, will close in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A century after a violent civil war freed African-Americans, the promises of equality set forth in the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution went unfulfilled until Dr. King's non-violent protests brought change. For this, he is one of just three mortals honored with a federal holiday. King was born into a time and place in America where people were divided by the color of their skin. There were many important actors in the 1960s civil rights movement, but Dr. King stands out for his insistence on uniting Americans.
The Italian navigator Christopher Columbus is justly honored with a federal holiday for his discovery of the New World. For uncountable thousands, possibly tens of thousands, of years, the human family was divided into an Old World of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and a New World of the Americas, Australia, and many islands. Each World wholly unaware of the existence of the other. With advances in science and navigation it was just a matter of time until someone re-introduced the two halves of humanity. The man who did it was Columbus, on October 12, 1492. It is sad that many today seek to divide Americans into "us" and "them," and even do so around the date that we celebrate the one man most directly responsible for re-united mankind.
The third person honored with a federal holiday is our first president, George Washington. In many ways he made the office of President of the United States what it is. The Constitution created a president, with certain enumerated powers, but left many details to be worked out. Was the president to reign like a king? Or would he merely preside, as administrator of the acts of congress? A man accustomed to military command, Washington was far from a figure head leader, but he eschewed such honorific titles as "His Excellency," preferring the functional title of "Mr. President." Most importantly, he stepped down from the presidency, overseeing a peaceful transition of power, and retired from public life.
Next Wednesday we shall see another peaceful transfer of power, from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden. It is the nature of our Republic that we have but one President at a time. Like him or not, he's the only one we have. It is in the interest of every American that we pray that Mr. Biden's Administration fosters the blessings of peace and prosperity. With that in mind I invite all my readers, whether you supported Mr. Biden or not, to say on the afternoon of January 20, 2021:
"Almighty God, whose kingdom is everlasting and power infinite; Have mercy upon this whole land; and so rule the hearts of thy servants the President of the United States, the Governor of this State, and all others in authority, that they, knowing whose ministers they are, may above all things seek thy honor and glory; and that we and all the People, duly considering whose authority they bear, may faithfully and obediently honor them, according to thy blessed Word and ordinance; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen."
Effective January 13 at all U.S. ports of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will detain cotton products and tomato products produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Effective January 13 at all U.S. ports of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will detain cotton products and tomato products produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against cotton products and tomato products produced in Xinjiang based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor. The agency identified the following forced labor indicators through the course of its investigation: debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.
“DHS will not tolerate forced labor of any kind in U.S. supply chains. We will continue to protect the American people and investigate credible allegations of forced labor, we will prevent goods made by forced labor from entering our country, and we demand the Chinese close their camps and stop their human rights violations,” said Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli.
“CBP will not tolerate the Chinese government’s exploitation of modern slavery to import goods into the United States below fair market value,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan. “Imports made on the cheap by using forced labor hurt American businesses that respect human rights and also expose unsuspecting consumers to unethical purchases.”
This WRO will direct CBP personnel at all U.S. ports of entry to detain cotton products and tomato products grown or produced by entities operating in Xinjiang. These products include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton and tomatoes. Importers are responsible for ensuring the products they are attempting to import do not exploit forced labor at any point in their supply chain, including the production or harvesting of the raw material.
In July 2020, the U.S. Government issued an advisory to caution businesses about the reputational, financial, and legal risks of forced labor in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government continues to execute a campaign of repression targeting the Uyghur people and other ethnic and religious minority groups. On December 2, 2020, CBP announced the issuance of a WRO on cotton and cotton products originating from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, an economic and paramilitary organization subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party.
This is the fourth WRO that CBP has issued since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021, and the second on products originating in Xinjiang. Eight of the 13 WRO that CBP issued in Fiscal Year 2020 were on goods made by forced labor in China. All WROs are publicly available and listed by country on CBP’s Forced Labor WROs and Findings webpage.
Federal statute 19 U.S.C. 1307 prohibits the importation of merchandise produced, wholly or in part, by convict labor, forced labor, and/or indentured labor, including forced or indentured child labor. CBP detains shipments of goods suspected of being imported in violation of this statute. Importers of detained shipments have the opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.
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On January 13, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission published in the Federal Register (86 FR 2539) Adjustments to Civil Penalty Amounts
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC" or "Commission") is implementing adjustments to the civil penalty amounts within its jurisdiction to account for inflation, as required by law.
The following adjusted amounts will take effect on January 13, 2021:
- Section 7A(g)(1) of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 18a(g)(1) (premerger filing notification violations under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Improvements Act)--Increase from $43,280 to $43,792;
- Section 11(l) of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. 21(l) (violation of cease and desist orders issued under Clayton Act section 11(b))--Increase from $22,994 to $23,266;
- Section 5(l) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(l) (unfair or deceptive acts or practices)--Increase from $43,280 to $43,792;
- Section 5(m)(1)(A) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(m)(1)(A) (unfair or deceptive acts or practices)--Increase from $43,280 to $43,792;
- Section 5(m)(1)(B) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 45(m)(1)(B) (unfair or deceptive acts or practices)--Increase from $43,280 to $43,792;
- Section 10 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 50 (failure to file required reports)--Increase from $569 to $576;
- Section 5 of the Webb-Pomerene (Export Trade) Act, 15 U.S.C. 65 (failure by associations engaged solely in export trade to file required statements)--Increase from $569 to $576;
- Section 6(b) of the Wool Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. 68d(b) (failure by wool manufacturers to maintain required records)--Increase from $569 to $576;
- Section 3(e) of the Fur Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. 69a(e) (failure to maintain required records regarding fur products)--Increase from $569 to $576;
- Section 8(d)(2) of the Fur Products Labeling Act, 15 U.S.C. 69f(d)(2) (failure to maintain required records regarding fur products)--Increase from $569 to $576;
- Section 333(a) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, 42 U.S.C. 6303(a) (knowing violations of EPCA sec. 332, including labeling violations)--Increase from $468 to $474;
- Section 525(a) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, 42 U.S.C. 6395(a) (recycled oil labeling violations)--Increase from $22,994 to $23,266;
- Section 525(b) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, 42 U.S.C. 6395(b) (willful violations of recycled oil labeling requirements)--Increase from $43,280 to $43,792;
- Section 621(a)(2) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681s(a)(2) (knowing violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act)--Increase from $4,063 to $4,111;
- Section 1115(a) of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, Public Law 108-173, as amended by Public Law 115-263, 21 U.S.C. 355 note (failure to comply with filing requirements)--Increase from $15,301 to $15,482; and
- Section 814(a) of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, 42 U.S.C. 17304 (violations of prohibitions on market manipulation and provision of false information to Federal agencies)--Increase from $1,231,690 to $1,246,249.