Thursday, September 16, 2021

U.S. & Ukrainian Leaders Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Commercial Cooperation

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo met with Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Oleksiy Lyubchenko in Washington, DC to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlining areas of renewed cooperation on trade.

The MOU also notes U.S. support for Ukrainian efforts to improve its business and investment climate, which could help to increase U.S.-Ukraine commercial ties. The specific measures include intensifying Ukraine’s fight against corruption, increasing the effectiveness and independence of the court system, strengthening intellectual property rights protections, and implementing corporate governance reforms.

Read more HERE.

Registration is Open for the Indo-Pacific Business Forum 2021

The United States government, in partnership with the Government of India, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Confederation of Indian Industry, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the US-ASEAN Business Council, the U.S.-India Business Council, and the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, is pleased to announce registration is now open for the fourth annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum (IPBF). This year’s IPBF will be a fully virtual event held from October 28-29, 2021, with a schedule that will ensure participants from across the Indo-Pacific can join.

The IPBF advances a vision for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, and inclusive. Government and business leaders from the United States, India, and across the Indo-Pacific region will exchange ideas through interactive discussions based on three broad themes: economic recovery and resilience; climate action; and digital innovation. Attendees will also be able to explore regional government and business partnerships and commercial opportunities. The IPBF will showcase high-impact private sector investment and government efforts to support market competition, job growth, and high-standard development for greater prosperity and economic inclusion in the Indo-Pacific. The event will be conducted via a secure online conferencing platform.

For more information or to register CLICK HERE.

AATCC Announces 2022 C2C Student Design Competition

This year’s theme asks students to design a sustainable travel wear line that incorporates recycled materials, sustainable manufacturing, and antibacterial and/or odor-control properties. Entries are due April 5, 2022.

Read more or submit HERE.

CBP Modifies Forced Labor Finding on Top Glove Corporation Bhd.

On September 9, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that it has modified the forced labor Finding on Top Glove Corporation Bhd. Effective immediately, CBP will permit the importation of disposable gloves made at Top Glove facilities in Malaysia.

“CBP modified a Finding after thoroughly reviewing evidence that Top Glove has addressed all indicators of forced labor identified at its Malaysian facilities,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Troy Miller. “Top Glove’s actions in response to the Withhold Release Order, which include issuing more than $30 million in remediation payments to workers and improving labor and living conditions at the company’s facilities, suggest that CBP’s enforcement efforts provide a strong economic incentive for entities to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains.”

Read more HERE.

FTC Opens Rulemaking Petition Process, Promoting Public Participation and Accountability

At an open Commission meeting today, the Federal Trade Commission voted to make significant changes to enhance public participation the agency’s rulemaking, a significant step to increase public participation and accountability around the work of the FTC.

On September 15, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission approved a series of changes to the FTC’s Rules of Practice designed to make it easier for members of the public to petition the agency for new rules or changes to existing rules that are administered by the FTC. The changes are a key part of the work of opening the FTC’s regulatory processes to public input and scrutiny. This is a departure from the previous practice, under which the Commission had no obligation to respond to or otherwise address petitions for agency action.

“Guarding against insularity is a constant challenge for virtually all federal agencies, and ensuring that the FTC is accessible even to those who lack well-heeled counsel or personal connections is essential to our institutional credibility,” said Chair Lina M. Khan. “Congress granted the FTC the power to issue rules, equipping us with a vital tool to protect the public from harmful business practices. Interested members of the public will be able to petition the FTC to invoke its rulemaking and other authorities to advance its mission.” 

The updates to the Rules of Practice make a number of changes designed to clarify the process of submitting petitions to the FTC while also adding more opportunities for public input and accountability in the Commission’s response to the petitions it receives.

Among the changes are:

  • More clarity for those seeking to file petitions related to rulemaking with regard to information that is required with submissions, as well as guidance on the data that can be helpful to the Commission in evaluation petitions.
  • A new requirement that the Commission publish all petitions for rulemaking that it receives in the Federal Register and solicit public comment about those petitions.
  • A new requirement that the Commission provide petitioners with a specific point of contact in the agency, and that the Commission provide a response to petitioners on its decision to either act on or deny the petition.

In addition to formal rulemaking, the new changes will also apply to requests by certain parties for special exemption from FTC rules, as well as petitions related to industry guidance issued by the Commission.

Read more HERE.

Standard for the Flammability of Residential Upholstered Furniture

On September 16, 2021, the Consumer Product Safety Commission published in the Federal Register (86 FR 51639) Standard for the Flammability of Residential Upholstered Furniture; Termination of Rulemaking.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission is withdrawing its proposed rule on flammability standards for residential upholstered furniture that were published March 4, 2008 in the Federal Register. This rulemaking is no longer active because it has been superseded by the COVID–19 Regulatory Relief and Work From Home Safety Act.

On December 27, 2020, the "COVID–19 Regulatory Relief and Work From Home Safety Act," became law. Public Law 116–260. Section 2101(c) of the COVID–19 Act mandated that, 180 days after the date of enactment of the COVID–19 Act, the standard for upholstered furniture set forth by the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation of the Department of Consumer Affairs of the State of California in Technical Bulletin (TB) 117–2013 (TB 117–2013), entitled, "Requirements, Test Procedure and Apparatus for Testing the Smolder Resistance of Materials Used in Upholstered Furniture," published June 2013, "shall be considered to be a flammability standard promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission under section 4 of the Flammable Fabrics Act (15 U.S.C. 1193)."

Navy, Army and Air Force Clothing Contract Awarded

M&M Manufacturing, Lajas, Puerto Rico, has been awarded a maximum $9,218,125 modification (P00021) exercising the second one-year option period of an 18-month base contract (SPE1C1-19-D-1145) with three one-year option periods for various types of blouses and coats. This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Location of performance is Puerto Rico, with a Sept. 19, 2022, ordering period end date. Using military services are Navy, Army and Air Force. Type of appropriation is fiscal 2021 through 2022 defense working capital funds. The contracting activity is Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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

On September 10 2021, the Office of the United States Trade Representative published in the Federal Register (86 FR 51436) Request for Comments To Compile the National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

National Industries for the Blind Awarded Combat Shirt Contract

The National Industries for the Blind, Alexandria, Virginia, has been awarded a maximum $15,131,686 modification (P00011) exercising the first one-year option period of a one-year base contract (SPE1C1-20-D-B090) with two one-year option periods for unisex and female advanced combat shirts. This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Locations of performance are Virginia, Texas, North Carolina and New York, with a Sept. 15, 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 agency is the Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

CBP Will Require Continuing Education for Customs Brokers

In a Federal Register Notice scheduled to be published September 10, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection proposes required Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers

The continuing education requirment had be discussed for some time and formally presented to the trade in December 2020. At that time Agathon Associates submitted comments which appear to have been taken into consideration in the proposed rule,

AAFA Supports Caribbean Basin Trade Preferences, Calls for Greater Flexibity in Rules of Origin

The American Apparel and Footwear Association has submitted comments to USTR in support of Caribbean Basin preference programs "as a way to grow and augment U.S. textile, apparel, and footwear jobs, while also supporting economic growth in the region." The organizations adds that, "Meaningful growth of these industries is possible but requires that the apparel rules of origin be more flexible than they are in their current iteration."

Air Force Anti-gravity Suit Contract Awarded

Vinyl Technology, Monrovia, California, has been awarded a maximum $11,510,340 modification (P00014) exercising the second one-year option period of a one-year base contract (SPE1C1-19-D-1188) with three one-year option periods for advanced technology anti-gravity suits. This is a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract. Location of performance is California, with a Sept. 16, 2022, ordering period end date. Using military service is 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.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Top Consumer Shopping Trends After COVIDEco-friendly and Made in America are Top of Mind

In the CGS 2021 State of the U.S. eCommerce Consumer Survey, 1,000 U.S.consumers were surveyed to gather insights and identify trends from their shopping habits. New data reveals that consumers are gravitating toward local shopping and American-made goods, but most are still going to online marketplaces.

See the study results HERE.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Foreign-Trade Zone 38—Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Application for Production Authority; Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc.; (Polyacrylonitrile-based Carbon Fiber); Extension of Rebuttal Comment Period

On July 19, 2021, the Foreign Trade Zone Board published in the Federal Register (86 FR 48982) Foreign-Trade Zone 38—Spartanburg County, South Carolina; Application for Production Authority; Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc.; (Polyacrylonitrile-based Carbon Fiber); Extension of Rebuttal Comment Period

The current rebuttal comment period pertaining to the amended application for production authority within Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 38 on behalf of Teijin Carbon Fibers, Inc., is being extended to September 10, 2021, based on a request from the applicant. The original closing of the rebuttal period had been set for September 2, 2021

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

Monday is Labor Day in the USA

Monday, September 6th, is Labor Day in the United States. National, state, and local government offices will be closed, as will most non-retail business.

In a normal year Labor Day marks end of summer. This summer was a scorcher in Boston, with two days of record high temperatures and four official heat waves (three or more consecutive days of 90 degrees or higher). I think of the men I saw, as I took an air-conditioned Uber to the swimming pool during those 90-degree plus days in July, hand-tamping hot asphalt paving under the scorching sun. As my fingers move across the keyboard now the overhead light reflects off my freshly manicured nails and the cuff links in my soft, clean, white shirt. As I think of my relative comfort I remember that I enjoy ease because other men and women are out in the summer heat and sun and winter cold doing dirty backbreaking work. And that is why we set aside the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

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

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

Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Tent Contract Awarded

Camel Manufacturing, Pioneer, Tennessee, has been awarded a maximum $8,677,665 firm-fixed-priced, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for military standard tents and components. This was a competitive acquisition with two responses received. This is a one-year base contract with four one-year option periods. Location of performance is Tennessee, with an Aug. 30, 2026, ordering period end date. Using military services are Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. 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-1486).

Resolving Trade Barriers

A message brought to you by the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) at the International Trade Administration. OTEXA is dedicated to increasing the international competitiveness of the U.S. textiles, apparel, footwear, and travel goods industries.

A trade barrier can be broadly defined as a foreign government policy, practice, or procedure that unfairly or unnecessarily restricts U.S. exports. The following are some common foreign government-imposed trade barriers that U.S. companies encounter abroad:

  • High or unfairly applied tariffs

  • Classification and customs barriers at the border

  • Burdensome certificate of origin or import licensing requirements

  • Unfair standards, testing, labeling, or certification requirements

  • Intellectual property rights protection problems

  • Discriminatory competition laws or unfair competition from state-owned enterprises

The Office of Trade Agreements Negotiation and Compliance (TANC) at the International Trade Administration (ITA) works to break down barriers to trade abroad and monitors and helps promote foreign government compliance with trade agreement obligations. By leveraging relevant trade agreements, ITA engages foreign governments to remove or mitigate barriers to trade as quickly as possible.

If you think you may be experiencing a trade barrier, report your issues as soon as possible.

Report a Trade Barrier Today