September at-a-glance…taxes, tariffs and trade

Commerce seeks to strengthen enforcement of antidumping duty laws

The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) is reviewing comments to its proposed rule that would make it more difficult to circumvent regulations governing antidumping and countervailing duty enforcement. The proposed rule allows DOC to initiate imposing duties and to work more collaboratively with U.S. Customers and Border Protection (CBP) to address potential evasion, as well as stricter guidelines that prevent foreign shippers from abusing new shipper reviews. DOC currently maintains 531 antidumping and countervailing duty orders on unfairly traded imports. According to Christine Sohar Henter, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg, “The Trump administration is further ramping up enforcement, so members who import goods should watch their processes even more closely.”

U.S.-China trade conversations continue

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and China’s Vice Premier Liu He held a telephone call to continue discussions around the Phase One Agreement between the countries. According to USTR, China is taking steps called for in the agreement to ensure greater protection for intellectual property, including eliminating forced technology transfer. China also increased purchases of U.S. soybeans, corn, pork and beef. The Vice Premier issued a statement saying, “The two sides agree to create conditions and atmosphere to continue pushing forward the implementation of the agreement.”

Section 301 tariff resources

The USTR recently announced 146 additional product exclusions from Section 301 tariffs, including some for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies. Its searchable database provides tariff information for products with 8-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) subheadings. For additional questions, contact USTR’s Section 301 Hotline at 202.395.5725.

U.S. reduces steel imports from Brazil

In late August, President Trump announced his decision to reduce the limit on allowable steel imports from Brazil, citing a downturn in the U.S. steel market since the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement is “applicable to certain steel articles” that have yet to be identified. In 2018, the U.S. and Brazil negotiated an import quota, prior to implementation of the Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. According to the announcement, the U.S. and Brazil will discuss steel trade again in December 2020.

U.S. removed tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports

Hours before Canada was due to impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. aluminum imports, the U.S. removed Section 232 tariffs on imports on Canadian aluminum imposed Aug. 16. U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer said the 10 percent tariff was removed retroactive to Sept. 1  after determining that Canada shipments are expected to decrease in volume in the months ahead. “If actual shipments exceeded 105 percent of the expected volume for any month during the four-month period (September – December), the U.S. will impose the 10-percent tariff retroactively on all shipments made in that month,” USTR said.

Per the terms of the United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA), all three countries have the authority to reimpose sector-specific tariffs if imports surge and consultations fail. According to the agreement, if any country reintroduces sector-specific tariffs, the exporting country can only retaliate in the affected sector. Related to this provision, the USTR imposed a monitoring system to track imports of steel and aluminum from Mexico.

More information available on USMCA Rules of Origin

NAFEM’s legal team at Barnes & Thornburg’s presentation providing an Update to the U.S. – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) Rules of Origin is available “on demand.” After registering, the presentation will immediately begin playing.