Monday, March 1, 2021

SPE1C1-21-R-0040 Multi-Ply Cloth Face Cove

As part of his National Strategy to defeat COVID-19, on February 24, President Biden announced a new effort to make masks more easily available to communities hard hit by the pandemic. The Administration will deliver more than 25 million masks to over 1,300 Community Health Centers across the country as well as 60,000 food pantries and soup kitchens, reaching some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations.

On Friday, February 28, DLA issued the following solicitation for the procurement of the cloth face masks,

https://beta.sam.gov/opp/467ba1f2a5af49ae9e013bba343e6aeb/view?keywords=SPE1C1-21-R-0040

Scope: The Contractor shall provide all necessary material and equipment in order to manufacture cloth face covers for individual wear. The Face Cover shall meet the requirements of ASTM F3502-21 Standard Specification for Barrier Face Coverings. The face cover is not intended to replace surgical masks, N-95 respirators, or other medical devices.

Sizes: The Contractor shall provide face covers in two sizes: • Youth size • Adult size Appendix X1 of ASTM F3502-21 describes the Modified NIOSH Bivariate Panel. Youth size face covers shall be a good fit for individuals having facial dimensions as described in cells 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of figure X1.1 of ASTM F3502-21. Adult size face covers shall be a good fit for individuals having facial dimensions as described in cells 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 of figure X1.1 of ASTM F3502-21.

Salient Characteristics: The face cover shall be made of at least two layers of cloth. Removable inserts or filters are not considered a layer of cloth. The face cover shall meet, at a minimum, the ASTM F3502-21 Level 1 performance for filtration efficiency (>20%) and Level 1 performance for air flow resistance (<15mmH20).

Materials: Materials found to be acceptable for face covers include the following:

  • 100% Polyester tricot knit
  • 65% Polyester, 35% Cotton plain weave
  • 57% T420 High Tenacity Nylon, 43% Cotton ripstop weave
  • 65% Rayon, 25% Para-aramid, 10% Nylon weave
Other materials may be acceptable, provided they conform to the requirements of this solicitation.

Biden Administration Releases 2021 President’s Trade Agenda and 2020 Annual Report

On March 1, 2021, the Office of the United States Trade Representative delivered President Biden’s 2021 Trade Policy Agenda and Annual Report to Congress.

The report was accompanied by this Fact Sheet

The President’s trade agenda is a key part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s effort to defeat COVID-19, help the economy recover, and build back better. President Biden will pursue a fair international trading system that promotes inclusive economic growth and reflects America’s universal values. The President knows that trade policy must respect the dignity of work and value Americans as workers and wage-earners, not only as consumers.

President Biden’s trade priorities outlined in the report are:

  • Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic and Restoring the Economy: The Biden Administration is focused on increasing vaccine production and distribution so that every American can be vaccinated as soon as possible. The trade agenda will support long-term investments to strengthen domestic production of essential medical equipment, expand industrial capacity and bolster preparation to tackle future public health crises. The trade agenda will also support the goal of ensuring that frontline workers have immediate access to necessary personal protective equipment and promote long-term supply chain resiliency for equipment and supplies critical to protecting public health in the United States.

    Trade policy will also support the broader economic recovery by helping companies, including small businesses and entrepreneurs, put Americans to work by building world-class products for export to foreign markets.

  • A Worker Centric Trade Policy: Trade policy is an essential part of the Build Back Better agenda. Trade must protect and empower workers, drive wage growth, and lead to better economic outcomes for all Americans. The Biden Administration will review past trade policies for their impacts on, and unintended consequences for, workers.

    Workers will have a seat at the table as the Biden Administration develops new trade policies that promote equitable economic growth by including strong, enforceable labor standards in trade agreements that protect workers’ rights and increase economic security. The Administration will engage allies to secure commitments to fight forced labor and exploitative labor conditions, and increase transparency and accountability in global supply chains.

  • Putting the World on a Sustainable Environment and Climate Path: The United States will work with other countries, both bilaterally and multilaterally, towards environmental sustainability and raising global climate ambition. As part of the whole-of-government effort, the trade agenda will include the negotiation and implementation of strong environmental standards that are critical to a sustainable climate pathway.

    The trade agenda will support the Biden Administration’s comprehensive vision of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving net-zero global emissions by 2050, or before, by fostering U.S. innovation and production of climate-related technology and promoting resilient renewable energy supply chains.

  • Advancing Racial Equity and Supporting Underserved Communities: The Biden Administration is committed to a trade agenda that ensures that the concerns and perspectives of Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), and Native American workers, their families, and businesses are a cornerstone of proposed policies. Through thoughtful, sustained, engagement and innovative data collection and sharing, the Biden Administration will seek to better understand the projected impact of proposed trade policies on communities of color and will consider those impacts before pursuing such policies.
  • Addressing China’s Coercive and Unfair Economic Trade Practices Through a Comprehensive Strategy: The Biden Administration recognizes that China's coercive and unfair trade practices harm American workers, threaten our technological edge, weaken our supply chain resiliency, and undermine our national interests. The ongoing comprehensive review of U.S. trade policy toward China is integral to the development of the Administration’s overall China strategy.

    The Biden Administration is committed to using all available tools to take on the range of China’s unfair trade practices that continue to harm U.S. workers and businesses. It will also make it a top priority to address the widespread human rights abuses of the Chinese government’s forced labor program that targets the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and elsewhere in the country.

    Along with pursuing strong enforcement to ensure that China lives up to its existing trade obligations, the Biden Administration will also seek to collaborate with allies to address global market distortions created by industrial overcapacity. Key sectors range from steel and aluminum to fiber optics, solar, and other sectors where the Chinese Government has been a key contributor.

  • Partnering with Friends and Allies: Restoring U.S. leadership around the world and repairing partnerships and alliances are Biden Administration priorities. The United States will work with World Trade Organization’s Director-General Okonjo-Iweala and like-minded trading partners to implement necessary reforms to the WTO's substantive rules and procedures to address the challenges facing the global trading system, including growing inequality, digital transformation, and impediments to small business trade.

    The Administration will work with allies and like-minded trading partners to establish high-standard global rules to govern the digital economy, in line with our shared democratic values. Where gaps exist in international trade rules, the United States will work to address them, including through enhanced cooperation with our partners and allies.

  • Standing Up for American Farmers, Ranchers, Food Manufacturers, and Fishers: Erratic trade actions in recent years taken without a broader strategy burdened America’s agricultural communities. The Biden Administration will stand up for American farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers, and fishers by pursuing smarter trade policies that are inclusive and work for all producers. The trade agenda will seek to expand global market opportunities for American farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers, and fishers and will defend our producers by enforcing global agricultural trade rules.
  • Promoting Equitable Economic Growth Around the World: Policies that promote equitable global economic growth and increase global demand benefit American workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, fishers and service providers by expanding the customer base. The trade agenda will include a review of existing trade programs to evaluate their contribution to equitable economic development, including whether they reduce wage gaps, increase worker unionization, promote safe workplaces, tackle forced labor and exploitative labor conditions, and lead to the economic empowerment of women and underrepresented communities. As part of this review, the Biden Administration will seek to incorporate corporate accountability and sustainability into trade policies.
  • Making the Rules Count: Strong trade enforcement is essential to making sure our trading partners live up to their commitments and that U.S. trade policy benefits American workers, manufacturers, farmers, businesses, families, and communities. The trade agenda will include comprehensive enforcement of trade agreements, including their labor and environmental standards.

    The Administration will also consider new ways to address the suppression of wages and workers’ rights in other countries to the detriment of U.S. workers. Although unilateral action may be necessary in some instances, President Biden will prioritize working on trade enforcement with friends and allies and pursue meaningful change for U.S. workers and businesses in the global trading landscape.

The Biden Administration will pursue a trade policy that helps the U.S. economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and reinforces investments our country is making in the domestic economy. Through a review of existing policies, negotiations of new standards, enforcement of our trade agreements, and partnership with our allies, President Biden’s trade agenda will support all workers, combat climate change, advance racial equity, increase supply chain resiliency, and expand market opportunities for American manufacturers, producers, farmers, fishers and businesses of all sizes.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Webinar: New Industrial Sewing Program From We Make Rhode Island

On March 3, 2021, Chairman of the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network & CEO of Trans-Tex LLC, Michael Woody, will discuss an Industrial Sewing workforce program with Barbara Jackson, Executive Director of We Make RI, a manufacturing training organization in Cranston, Rhode Island.

For more information, or to register, CLICK HERE

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Clothing Contracts for Foreign Military Sales Awarded

Atlantic Diving Supply Inc., Virginia Beach, Virginia (W91CRB-21-A-0002); Aquila International LLC, Woodbridge, Virginia (W91CRB-21-A-0003); Government Suppliers & Associates Inc., Vonore, Tennessee (W91CRB-21-A-0004); RRDS Inc., Irvine, California (W91CRB-21-A-0005); and US 21 Inc., Fairfax, Virginia (W91CRB-21-A-0006), will compete for each order of the $28,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of organizational clothing and individual equipment to support Foreign Military Sales requirements. Bids were solicited via the internet with seven received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Feb. 24, 2026. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity.

Within the U.S. industry it is widely understood that Department of Defense acquisitions of textiles and clothing are government by the Berry Amendment which requires domestic U.S. sourcing. Less well known is that the Berry Amendment applies to all funds "made available" to the Defense Department. That includes Department of Defense procurement for Foreign Military Sales.

Army and Air Force $11.9 Million Undershirt Contact Awarded

Knox County Association for Retarded Citizens, Vincennes, Indiana, has been awarded a maximum $11,895,468 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for undershirts. This is a one-year base contract with two one-year option periods. Location of performance is Indiana, with a Feb. 24, 2022, ordering period end date. Using military services are Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE1C1-21-D-N140)

Opening Statement of Ambassador-designate Katherine Tai Before the Senate Finance Committee

On February 24, 2021, the Office of the United States Trade Representative released the opening statement of Ambassador-designate Katherine Tai before the Senate Finance Committee. In her prepared remarks, Tai outlines her vision for leading the agency in pursuit of trade policies that will benefit all Americans and help jumpstart the economy. Tai also details her commitment to re-engaging international institutions to address common threats like climate change, the COVID pandemic, and the global economic downturn. The full text of Ambassador-designate Tai’s remarks is below:

"Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Crapo, and members of the Committee — thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

"The chance to serve the American people, fight on their behalf, and represent them on the world stage once again will be the greatest honor of my life. It’s a privilege I’ve experienced before at the Office of the United States Trade Representative — and a responsibility that, if confirmed, I look forward to embracing once again. I thank President Biden for providing me with this opportunity.

"Serving as the top U.S. trade representative around the globe holds special resonance for me as the daughter of immigrants.

"My parents were born in mainland China, and grew up in Taiwan. The immigration reforms set in motion by President Kennedy opened a path for them to come here as graduate students in the sciences. And they made the most of their American opportunity.

"My dad became a researcher at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. He helped the Army develop treatments for illnesses that had debilitated GIs during the Vietnam War – the war in which my father-in-law fought bravely as a young man.

"My mom still works at the National Institutes of Health. She heads a clinical trials network, developing treatments for opioid addiction that will help to stem an epidemic causing so much suffering in our communities.

"I am proud of their service to the nation that welcomed them. And I am proud to live in a country where, in just one generation, their daughter could grow up to represent the United States and our interests around the globe.

"That sense of pride and patriotism will ground me every day if I have the honor to be confirmed as United States Trade Representative.

"I know that the challenges ahead are significant.

"Our first priority will be to help American communities emerge from the pandemic and economic crisis. USTR has an important role to play in that effort. Working with Congress, the entire Biden-Harris administration, and other countries and trusted partners, USTR will help to build out strong supply chains that will get our economy back on track.

"In the longer term, we must pursue trade policies that advance the interests of all Americans — policies that recognize that people are workers and wage earners, not just consumers; policies that promote broad, equitable growth here at home; policies that support American innovation and enhance our competitive edge.

"That’s why I will make it a priority to implement and enforce the renewed terms of our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico. Too often in the past, Congress and the administration came together to finalize and pass a trade agreement. But then other urgent matters arose and we all moved on. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a uniquely bipartisan accomplishment that must break that trend. It represents an important step in reforming our approach to trade. We must all continue to prioritize its implementation and success. We must continue to pursue trade policies that are ambitious in achieving robust, bipartisan support.

"I will also prioritize rebuilding our international alliances and partnerships, and re-engaging with international institutions. We must do the hard work, and secure the necessary reforms that allow the world to come together and address common threats like climate change, the COVID pandemic, and a global economic downturn.

"That duty of leadership extends, of course, to addressing the challenges posed by China.

"I previously served as America’s chief enforcer against China’s unfair trade practices. I know firsthand how critically important it is that we have a strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its model of state-directed economics. I know the opportunities and limitations in our existing toolbox. And I know how important it is to build what the President has termed “a united front of U.S. allies.”

"We must recommit to working relentlessly with others to promote and defend our shared values of freedom, democracy, truth, and opportunity in a just society.

"China is simultaneously a rival, a trade partner, and an outsized player whose cooperation we’ll also need to address certain global challenges. We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time. That means here at home, we must prioritize resilience and make the investments in our people and our infrastructure to harness our potential, boost our competitiveness, and build a more inclusive prosperity. We must also impart the values and rules that guide global commerce — and we must enforce those terms vigorously.

"This is work I am eager to take on once more.

"Having spent my career fighting for American workers, I am honored by the opportunity to work alongside the bright and dedicated public servants at USTR, with our partners and allies, and with each of you. Having served nearly seven years in the House of Representatives, I know that U.S. trade policy is most successful when it is conducted through a healthy partnership between the administration and the Congress.

"I look forward to bringing our trade relationships to bear helping American communities emerge out of crisis and into greater prosperity."

Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains

On February 24, 2021, President Joseph Biden signed an Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains, stating:

"The United States needs resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains to ensure our economic prosperity and national security. Pandemics and other biological threats, cyber-attacks, climate shocks and extreme weather events, terrorist attacks, geopolitical and economic competition, and other conditions can reduce critical manufacturing capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products, and services. Resilient American supply chains will revitalize and rebuild domestic manufacturing capacity, maintain America’s competitive edge in research and development, and create well-paying jobs. They will also support small businesses, promote prosperity, advance the fight against climate change, and encourage economic growth in communities of color and economically distressed areas. "

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Reminder: FTZ Identifier Format Change Deployment Date is April 24, 2021

As a reminder, the FTZ Identifier Format Change will be deployed to the Production Environment (PROD) on April 24, 2021. Trade participants may test the functionality in the Certification Environment (CERT) until the functionality deploys to PROD.

Background: The Entry Summary Create/Update transaction (AE) will be changing to accept an expanded 9-character FTZ ID format. In that transaction, to accommodate the expanded length, the Foreign Trade Zone Identifier (currently 11-Reccord positions 54-60) will be moving to the 11-Record positions 63-71 (currently ‘Filler’). The repositioned data element will accommodate the new 9-character ID as well as the legacy 5- and 7-character versions of the ID. The transition will be a hard cutover when the change is implemented in CERT and PROD; the FTZ ID will no longer be recognized in positions 54-60 of the 11-Record.

In addition, once the transition occurs, the output of the Entry Summary Query (JD) will return (when full output requested) a Foreign Trade Zone Identifier of 5-, 7-, or 9-character length in the 11-Record positions 63-71.

CATAIR changes have been posted to CBP.gov under the ‘Drafts for Future Capabilities’ tab. Upon deployment of this functionality, the CATAIR will be posted under the “Chapters” tab.

Questions or concerns should be directed to Entry Summary, Accounts & Revenue Division (ESAR) at esar@cbp.dhs.gov.

AAFA Sends Letter to Senate Finance Committee Supporting Confirmation of Next USTR

The American Apparel and Footwear Association sent a letter to the members of the Senate Finance Committee urging swift confirmation of Katherine Tai to be the next U.S. Trade Representative.

CPSC to Attend NFPA Fire Test Committee on Upholstered Furniture

On March 5, 2021, Andrew Lock, Consumer Product Safety Commission Laboratory Sciences, and others will be participating in the Nation Fire Provention Association fire tests committee meeting to discuss standards development related to fire standards. The meeting is being held from 12:00pm to 4:00pm EST via teleconference. For more information contact Andrew Lock (preferred:alock@cpsc.gov or 301-987-2099).

CPSC Invites Public Comments on Agenda and Priorities

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission or CPSC) will conduct a public hearing to receive views from all interested parties about the Commission’s agenda and priorities for fiscal year 2022, which begins on October 1, 2021. The Commission invite members of the public to participate. Written comments and oral presentations concerning the Commission’s agenda and priorities for fiscal year 2022 will become part of the public record. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s hearing will be held virtually as a CPSC Webinar meeting. All attendees should pre-register for the Webinar. To pre-register for the Webinar, please visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2395411838620426511 and fill in the information. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. Instructions for the hearing participants and other interested parties will be made available on the CPSC website on the public calendar: https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Public-Calendar.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Army Jacket Contract Awarded

Blind Industries & Services of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland, has been awarded a maximum $11,505,000 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for wind cold weather jackets. This was a sole-source acquisition using justification 10 U.S. Code 2304 (c)(2), as stated in Federal Acquisition Regulation 6.302-5. This is a one-year base contract with four one-year option periods. Location of performance is Maryland, with a Feb. 22, 2022, ordering period end date. Using military service is Army. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is the Defense Logistics Agency, Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (SPE1C1-21-D-B107).

G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement on Burma

On February 23, 2021, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union firmly condemn violence committed by Myanmar's security forces against peaceful protests, and offered condolences for the loss of life.

“We condemn the intimidation and oppression of those opposing the coup. We raise our concern at the crackdown on freedom of expression, including through the internet blackout and draconian changes to the law that repress free speech. The systematic targeting of protesters, doctors, civil society and journalists must stop and the state of emergency must be revoked. We continue to call for full humanitarian access to support the most vulnerable.”

“We remain united in condemning the coup in Myanmar. We call again for the immediate and unconditional release of those detained arbitrarily, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and continue to stand with the people of Myanmar in their quest for democracy and freedom.”

The United States Continues to have Systemic Concerns with the WTO Appellate Body.

According to a report by the Coalition for a Prosperous America, the Biden Administration shares the Trump Administration's frustration with the (dis)functioning of the WTO Appellate Body. United States has raised and explained its systemic concerns for more than 16 years and across multiple U.S. Administrations. According to the report, "The Appellate Body lost its ability to hear new appeals in December 2019 when the Trump administration block the new vacancies."

Monday, February 22, 2021

Senators King, Lee Introduce Bill to Boost “Made in USA” Products

New Balance Athletics, which employs hundreds of Maine people, welcomes effort to support domestic manufacturing.

U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have introduced the Reinforcing American-Made Products Act, a bill that strengthens American manufacturing by creating one national “Made in USA” labeling standard. Under current conditions, businesses that make their products in the United States face a patchwork of different state laws – making compliance costs burdensome in order to ensure products can be sold across the country with the designation. The Senators’ legislation passed the Senate unanimously in 2020, but was not taken up by the House of Representatives.

“When a consumer sees a ‘Made in the USA’ label, they know they’re purchasing a high-quality product and supporting American jobs,” said Senator King. “These labels are simple, straightforward ways to help consumers make informed decisions – but confusing differences in state regulations prevent too many American manufacturers from using them. I’m proud to work with Sen. Lee to streamline this process and provide clarity for consumers who want to support American workers and manufacturers.” 

“Now more than ever, Americans care about the ‘Made in USA’ label; and they should because it shows consumers a product is of high quality and supports good jobs here in America,” said Senator Lee. “Unfortunately, some states have made it unnecessarily difficult  for businesses to use the ‘Made in USA’ label and empowered trial lawyers to get rich through differing labeling standards. This bill solves that problem by making one national standard for the ‘Made in USA’ label.”

“Our hundreds of associates in Norridgewock, Norway and Skowhegan, Maine proudly produce premium Made in the U.S.A. athletic footwear through New Balance’s long-standing commitment to domestic manufacturing,” said New Balance Athletics, Inc.’s Amy Dow. “Senator King’s legislation will ensure a federal standard for ‘Made in U.S.A.’ that would eliminate conflicting state and federal law for American manufacturers and support future domestic manufacturing growth.”

The Reinforcing American-Made Products Act would ensure that the federal government maintains authority in setting country-of-origin labeling standards and that states do not create a patchwork of different standards governing interstate and exported goods. The varied state regulations create unneeded challenges and expose manufacturers to unnecessary litigation. The Reinforcing American-Made Products Act would fix that by creating one national standard.

The full bill text can be found here.

Administrative Ruling Related to Domestic Warehouses and Fulfillment Centers Frequently Asked Questions

The below FAQ’s are for informational and discussion purposes only; they are not binding on the agency and have no legal effect. An administrative ruling pursuant to 19 C.F.R. Part 177 should be sought for specific fact scenarios.

What is Section 321?

19 U.S.C. § 1321, commonly referred to as Section 321, enables CBP to admit qualifying merchandise free of duty and tax provided that the merchandise is imported by “one person on one day” and has an aggregate fair market value of $800 or less.

The new administrative ruling recognizes domestic warehouses and fulfillment centers as the “one person” for merchandise that have not been sold to a specific consumer at the time of importation. Who else may qualify as the “one person”?

With respect to unsold merchandise, under the new administrative ruling, the owner of the merchandise (foreign seller) may also qualify as the “person” provided the owner’s identity is presented to CBP at the time of importation.

What if the merchandise owner’s (foreign seller) identity is not presented to CBP at the time of importation?

When the identity of the owner of the merchandise is not presented to CBP at the time of importation, shipments may be subject to informal or formal entry procedures when the aggregate value exceeds the $800 limit, or CBP determines it is necessary to protect the revenue or national interest.

How should the merchandise owner’s (foreign seller) identity be presented to CBP?

In order for the owner or purchaser to qualify as the “person” under Section 321, parties will be required to provide the first and last name of the owner or purchaser, or the name of the business.

Specifically, AMS filers must provide in the “consignee” field, the name of the owner or purchaser “in care of” the address of the domestic warehouse or fulfillment center to which the shipment is destined. Similarly, ABI filers may provide in the “ship to” and/or “buyer” fields, the name of the owner or purchaser “in care of” the address of the domestic warehouse or fulfillment center to which the shipment is destined. AMS and ABI filers should refer to the latest CAMIR and CATAIR guidance for filings.

On one day, a single domestic warehouse or fulfillment center takes custody of over $800 worth of unsold merchandise. With the merchandise owner’s (foreign seller) identity presented to CBP, can the merchandise be admitted duty-free under Section 321?

Shipments belonging to a single merchandise owner may be admitted duty-free provided their identity IS presented to CBP at the time of importation and the aggregate fair market value of those shipments on one day is $800 or less.

On one day, a single domestic warehouse or fulfillment center takes custody of over $800 worth of unsold merchandise. With the merchandise owner’s (foreign seller) identity NOT presented to CBP, can the merchandise be admitted duty-free under Section 321?

No. In situations where merchandise has not been sold to a consumer at the time of importation, CBP will consider the consignee (in this case the domestic warehouse or fulfillment center) to be the “person” for Section 321 eligibility purposes. The owner of the merchandise (foreign seller) may also qualify as the “person” provided the owner’s identity is presented to CBP. In this scenario, the merchandise owner’s identity was not presented to CBP at the time of importation.

On one day, a merchandise owner (foreign seller) sends 3 shipments with a value of $750 each to 3 different domestic warehouses or fulfillment centers. If the owner’s (foreign seller) identity is presented, can the merchandise be admitted duty-free?

No. The “one person” in this scenario is the merchandise owner (foreign seller). The aggregate fair market value of the three shipments is $2,250 and exceeds the $800 limit.

What if the merchandise owner ships the three separate shipments using different carriers or modes of transportation?

The ruling applies to all modes of transportation. The mode of transportation used does not influence Sec 321 eligibility.

In either of the two scenarios above, can the first $800 worth of merchandise be admitted duty-free under Section 321?

No. The $800 aggregate fair market value applies to the “one person”. In the first scenario, the domestic warehouse or fulfillment center is considered the “one person”. In the second scenario, the merchandise owner (foreign seller) is considered the “one person”. Under both scenarios, the aggregate fair market value of shipments imported on the one day exceeds $800. Accordingly, these shipments are subject to appropriate informal or formal entry procedures.

How is CBP enforcing this ruling?

CBP is working closely with its trade partners to identify and educate through informed compliance. In cases of egregious and repeat violators, CBP may take enforcement action, including placing holds on ineligible shipments, revoking Section 321 privileges, or requiring formal entry until sustained compliance is achieved.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Germany’s Sporting Goods Industry – Do’s, Don’ts, and Opportunities

Join the Textiles, Apparel and Sporting Goods Team of the U.S. Commercial Service Thursday, March 11, 2021, for a panel discussion with German market experts within the Sporting Goods industry to discuss:
  • Current Business Environment
  • Consumer Demand
  • Market Trends
  • Business Requirements
  • Matchmaking Opportunities

The United States Consul General in Munich. Meghan Gregonis, welcomes you to join her discussion with:

  • Kim Scholze – Community Manager Outdoor (ISPO) / Messe München
  • Dr. Jochen Schäfer – Attorney-at-law and Legal Counsel to the WFSGI
  • Sebastian Steinbach – owner of Black Sheep Sports

    Hosted by the United States Consul General in Munich, Meghan Gregonis, and the U.S. Commercial Service Germany in collaboration with the Global Textiles, Apparel, and Sporting Goods Team. This extension of our Bridge Session Series will give you the most up-to-date and relevant information on the Sporting Goods Sector in Germany.

NCTO Sends Letter to Senate Finance Committee in Support of Katherine Tai Nomination as U.S. Trade Representative

On February 19, 2021, National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID), voicing strong support for Katherine Tai’s nomination to serve as the next United States Trade Representative (USTR).

“Undoubtedly, this important office should be occupied by someone of unquestioned integrity who is not only an expert in international trade policy but an individual who also possesses a keen understanding of the unique challenges confronting domestic manufacturers and U.S. workers under the international trading system. Katherine Tai has demonstrated all these important qualities over her distinguished career,” Glas said in the letter.

“We believe she is an exceptional candidate to serve as the next USTR and are pleased to lend our strongest level of support to her nomination. Further, we urge the committee to quickly advance her confirmation to the Senate floor so that Ms. Tai can formally begin her important responsibilities as expeditiously as possible.”

The Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a hearing on Katherine Tai’s nomination for February 25.

1,569 Counterfeit Items Worth Over $800K Snatched by CBP Louisville

On February 11, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Louisville seized a large shipment carrying various counterfeit items. The shipment contained 1,569 counterfeit items, and were destined to an address in Plymouth, Minnesota. Had the items been real they would have had a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $821,495.' target='_blank'>HERE.

Read more HERE.

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) Meeting March 17, 2021.

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) will hold its quarterly meeting on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. The meeting will be open to the public via webinar only. There is no on-site, in-person option for this quarterly meeting.

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 Next Generation Facilitation Subcommittee will provide an update on the following working groups: The Unified Entry Processes Working Group will provide an update on the current status of the development of objectives for the future entry environment to enable faster and more secure entry processing; the Emerging Technologies Working Group will provide an update on the University of Houston's block chain assessment report; and, the One U.S. Government Working Group will provide an update on several key projects, including the Partner Government Agency Disclaim Handbook and the automation of currently required original/hard copy documents at time of entry.

2. The Rapid Response Subcommittee will provide an update on the progress of the Broker Exam Modernization Working Group efforts to improve the testing experience for the April 2021 exam, as well as future broker exams. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Working Group has reconvened and will provide an update regarding its goals and objectives.

3. The Intelligent Enforcement Subcommittee will provide updates on the following Working Groups: The Bond Working Group will report on the continued work with CBP on the Monetary Guidelines of Setting Bond Amounts as part of a larger risk-based bonding initiative; the Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty (AD/CVD) Working Group will report on the discussions surrounding non-resident importers and the impact this has on AD/CVD enforcement along with recommended solutions; the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Process Modernization Working Group will provide updates on development of several recommendations put forth during the April 2020 COAC meeting and will submit recommendations furthering the modernization of the IPR Process; and, the Forced Labor Working Group will provide a summary of the areas of focus that will be in its scope for the upcoming quarter.

4. The Secure Trade Lanes Subcommittee will present updates on the following Working Groups: The Trusted Trader Working Group's progress in developing the CBP White Paper for the Implementation of C-TPAT Trade Compliance Requirements for Forced Labor; the In-Bond Working Group's ongoing work with the technical enhancements that have been shared with the Trade Support Network, as well as the review of regulatory recommendations for future development; the Export Modernization Working Group's progress in developing the Export Operations for the 21st Century White Paper mentioned during the October 7, 2020 COAC meeting; and, the Remote and Autonomous Cargo Processing Working Group's progress reviewing the various modes of conveyance and automation opportunities.

Meeting materials will be available by March 15, 2021, at: http://www.cbp.gov/trade/stakeholder-engagement/coac/coac-public-meetings.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

FTC Approves Final Order Stopping the Manufacturer of Superglues, and Company President, from Marketing Products with Misleading ‘Made in USA’ Claims

Following a public comment period, the Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order settling charges that glue maker Chemence, Inc., and its company president, James Cooke, supplied pre-labeled and pre-packaged glues with deceptive “Made in USA” claims to its trade customers for use in marketing the strong, fast-acting glues under retailer brand names. As part of the settlement Chemence and Cooke are required to pay $1.2 million to the FTC, the highest monetary judgment ever for a Made in USA case.

First announced in December 2020, the FTC’s complaint alleges that Chemence and Cooke supplied glues in packages labeled with deceptive, unqualified “Made in USA” claims.

Under the terms of the final order, Chemence and Cooke are prohibited from making unqualified U.S.-origin claims for any product, unless they can show that the product’s final assembly or processing—and all significant processing—takes place in the United States and that all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States. Under the order, any qualified Made in USA claims must include a clear and conspicuous disclosure about the extent to which the product contains foreign parts, ingredients, components, or processing. Finally, to claim that a product is assembled in the United States, Chemence and Cooke must ensure that it is last substantially transformed in the United States, its principal assembly takes place in the United States, and U.S. assembly operations are substantial. The order also prohibits Chemence and Cooke from making any country-of-origin claim about a product or service unless the claim is not misleading and they have a reasonable basis that substantiates their claim.

The order also contains provisions requiring Chemence and Cooke to (1) notify certain third-party trade customers of the order and (2) provide compliance reports.

The Commission has an Enforcement Policy Statement on U.S. Origin Claims and other business guidance on how companies can comply with the Made in the USA standard. The FTC’s Made in USA page features cases, instructive closing letters, and the brochure Complying with the Made in USA Standard, which answers many of the questions companies ask.

Complying with the FTC rules can be complex and some manufacturers run afoul of the rules through ignorance, not the intent to deceive. I am pleased to announce that my business, Agathon Associates, offers a "Made in U.S.A. Certification" service. Manufacturers desiring to make a Made in U.S.A. claim can have me evaluate their manufacturing process and certify that under the FTC rules they can honestly say "Proudly Made in the U.S.A."

108,000 Counterfeit 3M Surgical Masks Stopped by Cincinnati CBP

On February 11, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Cincinnati seized 450 boxes of counterfeit 3M surgical masks; each box contained 240 masks, for a grand total of 108,000 counterfeit items. The boxes were imported on 16 pallets, enough to fill an entire sea container.

Although the retail packaging was marked with “Made in the USA,” the merchandise was imported from a logistics company in Hong Kong. Other indicators of fraudulent activity included a “Peru Seal,” which is not a legitimate 3M seal, and the Model No. 1860S, Lot No. B20522, all features specifically noted by 3M to be counterfeit. Additionally, 3M does not manufacture those respirators in China. The masks were ultimately determined to be counterfeit by CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise.

Read more HERE.

J.Crew Announces All Cashmere Sweaters To Be Produced Using Good Cashmere Standard

The Good Cashmere Standard® (GCS) was developed by the Aid by Trade Foundation (AbTF), a non-profit organization aiming to improve the welfare of cashmere goats, the lives of farmers and farming communities, and the environment in which they live. Through its partnership with GCS, J.Crew is not only able to guarantee a sustainable cashmere supply chain but can also provide full traceability for certified cashmere pieces.

J.Crew also announced it is extending its partnership with the Sustainable Fibre Alliance (SFA) to empower women herders in Mongolia to improve their economic and social standing. The SFA promotes the sustainable production of cashmere, minimizes environmental impact, ensures high animal welfare, and safeguards herder livelihoods.

As part of its multi-year program with J.Crew, the SFA will support nearly 1,000 female herders (and their households) in Mongolia and will focus on the following areas:

  • Education: Female herders will be trained on how to better negotiate trades and contracts, handle cash, make decisions and secure higher economic returns for their cooperative.
  • Financial Incentives: Incentives will be provided to herding cooperatives that include females as their members and have a least one woman in their decision-making structure, and to those that develop social safety nets and offer collective support for vulnerable female-led families.
  • Fibre Sorting Program: Increased economic return for female cooperative members will be achieved through a fibre sorting program, which will create the opportunity for the herders to sell higher quality fibre at a premium price.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Report Identifies Several Areas of Congressional Concern Regarding China

On February 16, 2021, the Congressional Research Service released U.S.-China Trade Relations.

The report identifies several areas of congressional concern, stating:

"China’s use of industrial policies, subsidies, and regulatory authorities (e.g., antitrust, procurement, and standards) to advance economic, technological, and military development goals are of concern to many in Congress. Policies such as Made in China 2025 aim to create competitive advantages for China in strategic industries, in part by first obtaining technology and expertise from U.S. firms to gain core competencies. These policies appear to incentivize technology transfer, licensing, and joint venture requirements; state-directed technology and intellectual property (IP) theft; and government-fundedacquisitions of U.S. companies. Also of concern is potentially widespread Chinese economic, academic, and cyber-enabled espionage—including reports of cyberattacks on U.S. universities and companies engaged in COVID-19 vaccine research—and China's military-civil fusion program, which seeks to leverage Made in China 2025 advancements for military applications. There is growing attention to how U.S. commercial ties may support China's behaviors of concern, including in Hong Kong and Xinjiang."

CBP Publishes F.A.Q. Regarding Withhold Release Order (WRO) for Cotton, Tomatoes and Downstream Products from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

What is the scope of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Withhold Release Order (WRO)?

Does it apply to only cotton and cotton products, and tomatoes and tomato products produced in the XUAR, or does it also cover products made in other parts of China, or third countries using inputs from the XUAR?

The WRO was issued against cotton and tomatoes and their downstream products produced in whole or in part in the XUAR, and includes downstream products produced outside the XUAR that incorporate these inputs. Examples of covered products include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton or 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. The WRO was issued against cotton and tomatoes and their downstream products produced in whole or in part in the XUAR, and includes downstream products produced outside the XUAR that incorporate these inputs. Examples of covered products include apparel, textiles, tomato seeds, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and other goods made with cotton or 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.

Can imported goods within the scope of the WRO be seized if they were imported and/or received prior to the WRO being put in place?

Redelivery may be ordered on goods within the scope of the WRO. Generally, demand for redelivery will be made no later than 30 days after the date that the merchandise was released, or 30 days after the end of the conditional release period, whichever is later.

Shipments subject to this WRO will be detained, not seized. Upon detention of the merchandise, importers have the option to export the goods, or provide proof of admissibility in accordance with 19 CFR 12.43. The merchandise will be excluded from entry to the U.S. commerce if the importer does not provide proof of admissibility within the three-month period, or if the documentation provided is insufficient to establish that the goods are admissible.

Does the WRO apply to goods in a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) or warehouse?

The WRO applies to goods entered from a FTZ or warehouse on or after January 13, 2021, the date the WRO was issued.

Will CBP communicate detentions directly to importers or will it communicate with customs brokers? Will detention communications specify that the detention is because of the WRO or provide specific instructions to the importers on how to respond?

The port of entry will issue a detention notice to the importer for merchandise detained under the WRO. The notice will state that the merchandise is detained pursuant to the WRO, and will provide instructions for response.

Proof of Admissibility

What guidance can CBP offer regarding proof of admissibility?

To request release of a particular shipment, importers may submit evidence to the port of entry where the shipment is being detained, in accordance with 19 C.F.R. § 12.43. It is incumbent upon the importer to prove admissibility of the merchandise within three months, per 19 C.F.R. § 12.43.

Evidence submitted to establish admissibility must demonstrate that the imported merchandise was not produced in whole or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region using forced labor.

What evidence will CBP require from importers who have goods detained pursuant to the WRO to prove that the goods were not produced with forced labor?

Are there examples of information that CBP finds helpful in making this determination? For example, will CBP require chain of custody documentation?

Importers contending that merchandise detained under 19 CFR § 12.42(a) was not produced with forced labor must submit the Certificate of Origin signed by the foreign seller as required by 19 C.F.R. § 12.43(a), which may be submitted in electronic form, and a detailed statement from the importer, as outlined in 19 C.F.R. §12.43(b).

Guidance Concerning the Certificate of Origin:

  • A standard Certificate of Origin is not acceptable. The required format for the certificate of origin is detailed in 19 C.F.R. § 12.43(a). This paragraph includes the exact wording of the certificate that should be signed by the seller/manufacturer.
  • The statement required by 19 C.F.R. § 12.43(b) should be submitted by the importer, not the seller. The importer’s statement should be sufficiently detailed and include proof that the goods were not produced, wholly or in part, with forced labor.

Supporting documentation should trace the supply chain from point of origin of the cotton or tomatoes, to the production and processing of downstream products, to the merchandise imported into the United States.

Detention notices will request the following types of documentation. This is not an exhaustive list. Additional documentation may be required.

For cotton products: Affidavit from yarn producer and the source of raw cotton that identifies where the raw cotton was sourced. Purchase Order, Invoice, and Proof of Payment for the yarn and raw cotton. List of production steps and production record for the yarn, including records that identify the cotton and cotton producer of the raw cotton. Transportation documents from cotton grower to yarn maker. Supporting documents related to employee's that picked the cotton, time cards or the like, wage payment receipts, and daily process reports that relate to the raw cotton sold to the yarn producer.

For tomato products: Provide supply chain traceability documents pointing to the point of origin of the tomato seeds, tomatoes, or tomato products. Affidavit from the tomato processing facility that identifies both the parent company and the estate that sourced the tomato seeds and or tomatoes. Purchase Order, Invoice, and Proof of Payment for the tomato seeds, tomatoes, or tomato products, from the processing facility and the estate that sourced the raw materials. All production records for the tomato seeds, tomatoes, and/or tomato products that identify all steps, from seed to finished product, from the farm to shipping to the United States

If an importer has a shipment detained, who should importers work with to demonstrate their shipment is compliant? Should importers work with the port of entry executing the detention or the importer’s assigned Center of Excellence?

In accordance with 19 C.F.R. § 12.43, evidence that a particular shipment was not produced with forced labor should be submitted to the port of entry where the shipment is detained.

Due Diligence/Best Practices

What are best practices recognized by CBP for importers to ensure their suppliers are not engaging in forced labor?

CBP recommends that the trade community use the following resources to better understand and address the risks of forced labor in global supply chains:

In addition, please refer to the CBP website for information on responsible business guidance: CBP Responsible Business Practices on Forced Labor [5] and CBP's Informed Compliance Publication on Reasonable Care [6].

How should importers ensure due diligence if they do not have a direct relationship with the upstream suppliers/manufacturers?

To combat the risks of forced labor in supply chains, importers should have a comprehensive and transparent social compliance system in place. CBP’s Informed Compliance Publication on Reasonable Care [6] includes a section on forced labor.

The Department of Labor’s website provides guidance on setting up a social compliance system: https://www.dol.gov/ilab/complychain/ [7]

Miscellaneous

Will CBP allow importers to remove and enter goods that are not subject to the WRO from containers that include detained goods? What is the process for entering such containers?

Yes, when goods subject to a WRO are only a portion of a shipment, the importer may file a request for a manipulation permit with the Port of Entry.

Upon approval of the request for a manipulation permit by the Port of Entry, the importer may choose to amend the entry to secure the release of the goods that are not subject to the WRO. If the importer intends to contest that the goods are subject to the WRO, those goods may be entered into a bonded warehouse. Alternatively, the goods may be exported or destroyed.

Will CBP treat individual company information confidentially with respect to enforcement?

Yes, under the Trade Secrets Act, CBP cannot reveal confidential business information, as described in 19 C.F.R. § 201.6 [8], to the public.

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Friday, February 12, 2021 - 10:03

Office of the United States Trade Representative Statement on the Director General of the World Trade Organization

On February 5, 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration expressed its strong support for the candidacy of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next Director General of the WTO, stating: "Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy from her 25 years with the World Bank and two terms as Nigerian Finance Minister. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organization with a diverse membership."

The General Council agreed by consensus on February 15, 2021, to select Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria as the organization's seventh Director-General. When she takes office on 1 March, Dr Okonjo-Iweala will become the first woman and the first African to be chosen as Director-General. Her term, renewable, will expire on 31 August 2025.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Product Test Lab verifies conformance of COVID-19 supplies, military gear

A Defense Logistics Agency laboratory known for burning boots, crushing helmets and ripping combat uniforms is also putting COVID-19 surgical gowns through 25 cycles of wash – all in the name of safety and product conformance.

Co-located with DLA Troop Support in Philadelphia, where it tests items primarily in the clothing and textiles and construction and equipment supply chains, the Product Test Center-Analytical is staffed with 27 employees including scientists, engineers and textile technologists.

“Think of us as the Consumer Reports for DLA. We don’t just test when there’s a problem; we test to make sure vendors meet contract requirements and warfighters have functional items that work as they’re intended to in the field,” said PTC-A Manager Jamie Hieber.

Read more HERE.

PPC Broadband, Inc. (Fiber Optic Cables); Dewitt, New York, has been approved for Foreign-Trade Zone procedures subject to restrictions excluding foreign textile inputs.

On October 8, 2020, PPC Broadband, Inc., (PPC Broadband) submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facility within FTZ 90, in Dewitt, New York. The FTZ Board authorized the production activity described in the notification (see 86 FR 9051) on a limited basis, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.14, and further subject to restrictions requiring that foreign-status tight buffered fiber be admitted to the zone in privileged foreign status (19 CFR 146.41) and that aramid yarn, swellcoat blockers or equivalent be admitted to the zone in domestic/duty paid status (19 CFR 146.43).

This follows the approval, last month of FTZ procedures for OFS Fitel subject to the same limitation relating to textile articles available from domestic sources.

Wisdom from Washington

Monday, February 15th, is Washington's Birthday, a public holiday in the United States. Federal, state, and local government offices will be closed as will many non-retail business.

Since 1971, Washington's Birthday has been observed, as a public holiday on the third Monday in February. The day is commonly called "Presidents’ Day," but the legal name remains, "Washington's Birthday."

"First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in the humble and enduring scenes of private life; pious, just, humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform, dignified, and commanding, his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting. To his equals he was condescending, to his inferiors kind, and to the dear object of his affections exemplarily tender; correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence, and virtue always felt his fostering hand; the purity of his private character gave effulgence to his public virtues. His last scene comported with the whole tenor of his life although in extreme pain, not a sigh, not a groan escaped him; and with undisturbed serenity he closed his well-spent life. Such was the man America has lost such was the man for whom our nation mourns."
-- Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee

We could do no better, in reflecting on the life and influence of President Washington, than to consult his 1796 Farewell Address to the nation written as he prepared to retire from public life. It was almost immediately reprinted in newspapers across the country and later in pamphlet form.

In the address Washington argues that the Union of the States "ought to be considered as a main prop of your liberty," and that "there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who in any quarter may endeavor to weaken its bands." He warns against sectionalism: North versus South, or Atlantic versus West. He praises the Constitution, which he declares, "improved upon [the Articles of Confederation]" and "better calculated than [the Articles] for an intimate union." The Constitution, he says, "till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all." As every schoolboy knows, he then goes on to warn against factions and "the baneful effects of the spirit of party generally."

Washington stresses the need for religion and morality if the republic is to be preserved. And he exhorts to maintain good public credit and to be careful with regard to public debt "not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear." Finally Washington warns against foreign alliances.

The full text of the Address is available at libraries and online. The original hand-written address is 32 pages in length, far from a 140 character "tweet."

The Year of the Ox

By Alice-astro - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24435549
Friday, February 12, 2021, on the Gregorian Calendar, is the beginning of the lunar new year, sometimes called Chinese New Year, and observed in many of the nations of East and Southeast Asia. The Year of the Ox ends January 31, 2022. This is a year of the Metal Ox.

Monday, February 8, 2021

U.S. Luxury Apparel Imports Plummet During Covid

U.S. imports of cashmere sweaters dropped by over 30% in 2020, as reported in dollar value.

Country Year 2018 Year 2019 Year 2020 Change 2019 to 2020
WORLD TOTAL $398,399,202 $456,056,590 $313,595,100 -31%
China $321,663,861 $345,244,721 $226,551,378 -34%
Italy $55,447,190 $63,485,698 $45,582,603 -28%
Vietnam $282,533 $5,728,322 $11,395,115 99%
United Kingdom $8,765,840 $10,278,369 $6,456,211 -37%
Hong Kong $3,139,947 $2,253,421 $5,718,419 154%
Mongolia $1,513,223 $2,965,087 $3,738,757 26%
Romania $1,209,869 $2,047,654 $3,479,232 70%
Burma $112,931 $1,982,835 $3,323,931 68%
Madagascar $691,488 $2,557,670 $2,756,553 8%
ALL OTHERS $5,572,320 $19,512,813 $4,592,901 -76%

U.S. Wool Imports Flag During Pandemic

U.S. imports of wool products were down 32% by volume and 34% in dollar value.

The import data distinguish wool apparel imports which were down 37% by volume and 39% in dollar value.

For non-apparel wool products the decline was 20% by volume and 20% in dollar value.

Calendar Year 2020 U.S. Textile and Apparel Import Data Released

On February 5, 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel released December 2020 Textile and Apparel Import Report.

The Office of Textiles and Apparel reported that imports of textiles and apparel were 67,333.9 Million Square Meter Equivalents ("MSME") for the year ending December 2020, a decline of 3.2 percent from year ending December 2019. Imports of textiles were 44,201.1 MSME for the year ending December 2020, an increase of 5.4 percent from the year ending December 2019. Apparel imports for the year ending December 2020 were 23,132.8 MSME, down 16.4 percent from the year ending December 2019.

Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces Key Staff Appointments

On Februay 8, 2021, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced the appointment of key leaders who will help the Biden-Harris Administration build back a better economy. The experienced and diverse team will partner with USTR’s dedicated career civil servants to craft trade policy that benefits American workers and increases American competitiveness. This group will work tirelessly to strengthen relationships with our allies, respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, combat climate change, and create a more equitable and inclusive economy.

The officials are listed below in alphabetical order:

Sirat K. Attapit

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs

Before joining USTR, Ms. Attapit most recently served as Director of Legislative Affairs for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. She previously served 12 years in various positions in the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Senate, Illinois Legislature, and a think tank where she worked on a wide range of issues, including international affairs, trade, Social Security, and anti-poverty programs. Originally from Illinois, Ms. Attapit holds a JD and an MBA from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law and Stuart School of Business, respectively, and a BS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Jan Beukelman

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs

Jan Beukelman is the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Congressional Affairs. Most recently, Mr. Beukelman was the legislative director for Senator Tom Carper. Prior to working for Senator Carper, he worked for Congressmen Jim Matheson and Dennis Moore. Originally from Kansas, Mr. Beukelman lives in Washington, DC.

Maíra Ferranti Corrêa

Digital Media Director

Maíra Ferranti Corrêa is the Digital Media Director in the Office of Media and Public Affairs. Before joining USTR, she was a Manager on the Digital team for the Biden-Harris campaign where she oversaw the production of campaign videos. Earlier in her career, Ms. Ferranti Corrêa was the Director of Production and Operations at Mythical Entertainment, having previously spent four years at BuzzFeed, a tech and entertainment company. Before diving into digital media, Ms. Ferranti Corrêa worked in television production. Ms. Ferranti Corrêa is originally from São Paulo, Brazil, and has a degree in Communications from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado.

Adam Hodge

Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Media and Public Affairs

Adam Hodge is the Assistant United States Trade Representative for Media and Public Affairs. He is a veteran communications strategist with experience advising several senior government officials and business leaders. Mr. Hodge previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department where he led the communications efforts for a range of domestic finance issues. Most recently, he was the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at Ariel Investments. Before joining Ariel, Mr. Hodge worked for SKDKnickerbocker and was the Communications Director at the Democratic National Committee, having previously served as a Regional Press Secretary. Earlier in his career, he served as the Press Secretary for House Majority Whip James Clyburn, on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and in the office of former Senator Christopher Dodd. Originally from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Mr. Hodge is a graduate of Wesleyan University with a BA in government, concentrating on International Relations.

Ethan Holmes

Special Assistant to the United States Trade Representative

Ethan Holmes is a Special Assistant to the United States Trade Representative. Mr. Holmes previously served in the office of Representative Ron Kind in a variety of positions, most recently as his Economic Policy Advisor. He has a B.A. from DePaul University in philosophy, an MSc from the University of Edinburgh in International Political Theory, and received an Executive Certificate from Harvard University’s Kennedy School on International Trade.

Ginna Lance

Deputy Chief of Staff

Ginna Lance is Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Trade Representative. Recently, Ms. Lance was the Associate Operations Manager for the Overdeck Family Foundation, leading operations for the organization, focused on hiring, finance, governance, and strategic planning. She previously worked in the Office of then-Vice President Joe Biden, where she served as the Director of Scheduling and Deputy Director of Operations. In her role, she developed and managed the Vice President's strategic and long-term schedule, including overseeing logistics for domestic and foreign travel. Prior to that, Ms. Lance was Administrative Manager to the Chief Experience Officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 2012, Ms. Lance was scheduler for then-Vice President Joe Biden during the Obama-Biden re-election campaign. She began her career at the Department of Commerce in the International Trade Administration. Ms. Lance holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Samuel Negatu

Director of Congressional Affairs

Samuel Negatu is the Director of Congressional Affairs to the U.S. Trade Representative. Mr. Negatu spent the last six years in the House of Representatives, most recently as Legislative Director for Representative Jimmy Gomez (CA). He also served as a staff negotiator for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) working group, addressing labor issues in negotiations between USTR and House Democrats. Prior to that, he served as Legislative Counsel for Representative Matt Cartwright (PA). Originally from California, Samuel received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Juris Doctor from Washington University in St. Louis.

Greta Peisch

General Counsel

Greta Peisch is the General Counsel for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Ms. Peisch has served as Senior International Trade Counsel on the Senate Finance Committee for Chairman Wyden since 2015. Previously, she served in USTR’s Office of the General Counsel, including as Chief Counsel for Negotiations, Legislation and Administrative Law. Before that, she clerked for Judge Douglas P. Woodlock in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts and practiced law at Covington and Burling LLP. She earned her JD from Yale Law School and AB from Dartmouth College.

Brad Setser

Counselor

Brad W. Setser is the Counselor to the U.S. Trade Representative, providing advice on a broad range of trade and economic policy matters. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Mr. Setser was a senior fellow for international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, where his work covered global capital flows, financial vulnerability analysis, currency intervention, tax competition and trade imbalances. Mr. Setser previously served in the Obama-Biden Administration as the deputy assistant secretary for international economic analysis in the U.S. Treasury from 2011 to 2015, after having started the administration as the director for international economics on the staff of the National Economic Council and the National Security Council. Mr. Setser holds a BA from Harvard University, a masters from Sciences-Po, and an MA and PhD in international relations from Oxford University.

Shantanu Tata

Executive Secretary

Shantanu Tata is Executive Secretary and Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative. Before joining USTR, Mr. Tata was a Senior Policy Advisor to Representative Suzan DelBene and served as her primary advisor for trade issues on the Ways & Means Committee. He also provided counsel on foreign policy, financial services and international tax issues, and previously worked at USTR during the second term of the Obama Administration. Mr. Tata received a BA in Government from Hamilton College.

Jamila Thompson

Senior Advisor

Jamila Thompson is a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative. A 19-year veteran of Capitol Hill, Ms. Thompson previously served as the chief of staff for Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA), a legislative assistant for Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), and a volunteer coordinator and translator for various non-profit organizations. Ms. Thompson earned a Bachelor of Arts in History with International Relations and French from Goucher College and a Masters of Arts in Global Diplomacy from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Ms. Thompson and her husband, Brandon Whitehurst, reside in Washington, D.C.

Nora Todd

Chief of Staff

Nora Todd serves as the Chief of Staff to the U.S. Trade Representative. Prior to her service at USTR, Ms. Todd was Chief Economic Advisor for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). She previously served as Legislative Director for Representative Mike Michaud (D-ME), Senior Policy Advisor for Representative Dennis Cardoza, and Legislative Assistant for Representative Hank Johnson. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Ms. Todd received her BA in Political Science from Stanford University and her MA in Communications, Culture, and Technology from Georgetown University.

Mark Wu

Senior Advisor

Mark Wu serves as a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Trade Representative. He was most recently the Henry L. Stimson Professor and Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. While in academia, Mr. Wu served on the Advisory Board of the WTO Chairs Programme and the Global Futures Council for Trade and Investment at the World Economic Forum, and before academia Mr. Wu served as Director for Intellectual Property at USTR, a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, and an economist and operations officer at the World Bank. He is a graduate of Yale Law School, Oxford University, and Harvard College.

FTC Seeks Input on Wool Rules

On February 8, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission published in the Federal Register (86 FR 8641) Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Extension

The Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939 (Wool Act) prohibits the misbranding of wool products. The Wool Rules establish disclosure requirements that assist consumers in making informed purchasing decisions and recordkeeping requirements that assist the Commission in enforcing the Rules. The FTC is providing this opportunity for public comment before requesting that OMB extend the existing clearance for the information collection requirements contained in the Commission's Wool Rules.

Estimated annual hours burden: 1,880,000 hours (160,000 recordkeeping hours + 1,720,000 disclosure hours).

Recordkeeping: Staff estimates that approximately 4,000 wool firms are subject to the Wool Rules' recordkeeping requirements. Based on an average annual burden of 40 hours per firm, the total recordkeeping burden is 160,000 hours.

Approximately 8,000 wool firms, producing or importing about 600,000,000 wool products annually, are subject to the Wool Rules' disclosure requirements. Staff estimates the burden of determining label content to be 30 hours per year per firm, or a total of 240,000 hours, and the burden of drafting and ordering labels to be 60 hours per firm per year, or a total of 480,000 hours. Staff believes that the process of attaching labels is now fully automated and integrated into other production steps for about 40 percent of all affected products. For the remaining 360,000,000 items (60 percent of 600,000,000), the process is semi-automated and requires an average of approximately ten seconds per item, for a total of 1,000,000 hours per year. Thus, the total estimated annual burden for all firms is 1,720,000 hours (240,000 hours for determining label content + 480,000 hours to draft and order labels + 1,000,000 hours to attach labels).

The AAFA, a national trade association which represents U.S. apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies and their suppliers, has stated that "[t]he use of labels on textiles and apparels is beneficial to consumers, manufacturers, and business in general as it allows for the necessary flow of information along the supply chain."

DATES: Comments must be received on or before April 9, 2021.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Tariff Classification of Core Spun Single Yarn and Eligibility for United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement

In a recent ruling (H309704) Customs addressed the tariff classification, country of origin, and USMCA elgibility of a 2-ply yarn constructed of one black partially oxidized polyacrylonitrile (PAN) staple yarn (36.2% by weight) twisted to one beige/yellow core-spun aramid/glass yarn (63.8% by weight). The core-spun yarn is constructed of a beige/yellow aramid yarn (53.3% by weight) that is wrapped around a core of glass fibers (46.7% by weight).

Zoom Event: Max Brickle Talks about his Company has Benefited from the Federal R&D Tax Credit

On Monday, February 8, at Noon Eastern Standard Time, the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network ("RITIN") will be conducting a 30 minute lunchtime Zoom featuring Max Brickle talking about how his company has benefited from the Federal R&D Tax Credit Program. Max will explain the types of projects for which he has used the credits, what is involved in the process of applying for the credits, and the significant upside for The Brickle Group. Here’s the link for registration: RITIN Executive Insights: R&D Tax Credits w/ Max Brickle, The Brickle Group.

In the first of Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network's webinars featuring business leaders sharing strategies for success, Michael Woody, CEO of Trans-Tex LLC and Chairman of the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN) talks with guest Max Brickle, CEO of The Brickle Group, about his strategy to save money by utilizing R&D expenses for Federal tax credits.

Max Brickle has experienced considerable success in utilizing Federal R&D tax credits at the Brickle Group. When The Brickle Group began operating, they were not aware of these tax credits and it was not until 2012 that they learned of these benefits. Over the past 8 years, they've saved close to $2 million in federal tax payments. In 2019 alone, The Brickle Group saved $238,000 in federal tax credits.

The availability of these credits has allowed The Brickle Group to invest in internal manufacturing processes (LEAN) in addition to successful rollouts of new products.

Max is looking forward to sharing this method to continue strengthening Rhode Island's textile manufacturing industry.

The Brickle Group is a third-generation family business, founded by Hyman Brickle in 1937. Hyman became interested in the industry when he began working for a rag merchant located in Woonsocket, RI. He then started his own company H. Brickle & Son, Inc in 1937. Originally, their business was focused around trading recycled fibers between textile mills. He was the first woolen waste dealer in the south, which enabled the company to have a prosperous beginning. In 1998, Max became the President of the Brickle Group, managing the three textile divisions. He continued the companies expansion and diversification through acquisitions and organic growth. Bouckaert Industrial Textiles (B.I.T) was one of the acquired businesses by H. Brickle & Son, Inc in 2000. As of 2001, each of the divisions merged together to become The Brickle Group. Max graduated from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire.

CBP Seizes Phony Designer Pajamas Valued at Over $138K

AUSTIN – U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport seized counterfeit children’s pajama sets, Jan. 21, with an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $138,618.

Phony Counterfeit Designer Pajamas
These fake Gucci pajamas were seized in Austin.

CBP officers intercepted a shipment containing 91 counterfeit pajama sets including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, Fendi and Versace that originated in the Philippines and were destined for Leander, Texas.

“A vast majority of consumers are unaware that counterfeiting can involve forced labor, human trafficking, as well as fund other criminal activities,” said Austin CBP Port Director Richard Mendez. “Additionally, counterfeit products are likely manufactured with dangerous materials and lack quality standards. This seizure reflects our commitment to protect our nation’s economy and its consumers from transnational criminals who are intent on defrauding businesses and consumers alike.”

When the shipment arrived at the Austin port of entry, it was manifested as clothes; but instead CBP officers discovered various designer marked counterfeit pajama sets. CBP officers took images of the items for the trademark holders who immediately advised that the items were substandard and in violation of intellectual property rights.

With this information, CBP officers seized the items.

Counterfeit pajama set
These counterfeit designer pajama sets were part of a
shipment valued at over $138,000.

According to Mendez, counterfeit commodities can multiply illegal profits when these types of illegitimate items are made available on websites, sold in flea markets or unauthorized outlets. He added that consumers are deceived into believing that they are buying an original product at a significant discount. CBP officers work tirelessly to intercept and disrupt criminal activity.

In fiscal year 2020, CBP processed $2.4 trillion in imports, the end of the fiscal year 2019, CBP recorded more than 23,700 seizures of counterfeit goods, with an estimated value of $1.2 billion.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Condemning the coup in Myanmar: G7 Foreign Ministers' statement

The G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning the coup in Myanmar.

“We are deeply concerned by the detention of political leaders and civil society activists, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, and targeting of the media. We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law. The November election results must be respected and Parliament should be convened at the earliest opportunity.

“The military’s restrictions on information flows are deeply concerning. Civilians, including civil society and the media, must not be subject to reprisals in any form. We also call for unrestricted humanitarian access to support the most vulnerable.

“G7 Foreign Ministers recall their 2019 communique in which we restated our commitment to Myanmar’s democratic transition, peace and accountability for human rights violations and abuses.

“We stand with the people of Myanmar who want to see a democratic future.”

Agathon Associates has followed developments in U.S. trade with Myanmar, also called Burma, for many years.

In 2013 the U.S. lifted the ban on imports from Burma, and in 2016 extended GSP benefits to Burma (GSP, or Generalized System of Preferences, is a program that provides for duty-free entry for certain articles from developing nations.

More information about Burma is available at this Congression Research Service report.