USTR Announces New GSP Eligibility Reviews of India, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan - U.S. International Trade Representative
Washington, D.C. – The Office of the United States Trade Representative announced today that it is reviewing the eligibility of India, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) based on concerns about the countries’ compliance with the program. The reviews are based on the Trump Administration’s new GSP country eligibility assessment process as well as GSP country eligibility petitions.
“GSP provides an important tool to help enforce the Trump Administration’s key principles of free and fair trade across the globe. The President is committed to ensuring that those countries who receive GSP benefits uphold their end of the bargain by continuing to meet the eligibility criteria outlined by Congress,” said Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish. “We hope that India, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan will work with us to address the concerns that led to these new reviews.”
For India, the GSP country eligibility review is based on concerns related to its compliance with the GSP market access criterion. For Indonesia, the review is based on concerns related to its compliance with the GSP market access criterion and the GSP services and investment criterion. Kazakhstan’s eligibility review is based on concerns related to its compliance with the GSP worker rights criterion.
A public hearing and comment period for the new GSP reviews of India, Indonesia, and Kazakhstan will be announced in an upcoming Federal Register notice.
In October 2017, USTR announced a new triennial process to assess GSP beneficiary country eligibility. The first assessment period covered 25 Asian and Pacific island GSP beneficiary countries. For each such country, USTR and other U.S. Government agencies examined the country’s policies and practices related to each of the 15 eligibility criteria established by Congress, including respecting arbitral awards in favor of U.S. citizens or corporations, combating child labor, respecting internationally recognized worker rights, providing adequate and effective intellectual property protection, reducing barriers to services trade and investment, and providing the United States with equitable and reasonable market access.
USTR also received petitions from stakeholders requesting new eligibility reviews. Based on the information analyzed in its assessment process and on the petitions submitted by stakeholders, USTR has determined that the three new country eligibility reviews are warranted. The lack of a self-initiated review with respect to a GSP country should not be interpreted as an affirmation that the country is meeting all of the GSP criteria.
India: USTR is launching a self-initiated GSP eligibility review of India based on concerns related to its compliance with the GSP market access criterion and is also accepting two petitions related to the same criterion. The petitions filed by the U.S. dairy industry and the U.S. medical device industry requested a review of India’s GSP benefits, given Indian trade barriers affecting U.S. exports in those sectors. India has implemented a wide array of trade barriers that create serious negative effects on U.S. commerce. The acceptance of these petitions and the GSP self-initiated review will result in one overall review of India’s compliance with the GSP market access criterion.
Indonesia: USTR is launching a self-initiated GSP eligibility review of Indonesia based on concerns related to its compliance with the GSP market access criterion and related to its compliance with the GSP services and investment criterion. Indonesia has implemented a wide array of trade and investment barriers that create serious negative effects on U.S. commerce.
Kazakhstan: USTR is accepting a petition from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) which alleges that Kazakhstan has not taken steps to afford internationally recognized worker rights, including the right to freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively. The petition further alleges that Kazakhstan actively restricts the right to form trade unions and employer associations. Serious concerns about restrictive legislation and the harassment of independent labor leaders have been raised repeatedly at the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The next GSP assessment process will start in the fall of 2018 and will cover beneficiary countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Western Hemisphere.
The GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program and is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries. Congress voted last month to renew the GSP through 2020.
For more information on the GSP program, visit the GSP page on the USTR website here.
USITC Institutes Investigation Related to Extension of Trade Authorities Procedures
- U.S. International Trade Commission
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has instituted an investigation related to the President’s request to Congress for an extension of his trade authorities procedures.
The President submitted a request to Congress on March 20, 2018, for an extension of trade authorities procedures, commonly known as trade promotion authority. At the same time, the USTR notified the USITC of the President’s request. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (Bipartisan Trade Act) requires the USITC, having been notified of the President’s request, to provide a report to Congress that contains a review and analysis of the economic impact on the United States of all trade agreements implemented between the date of the enactment of the Bipartisan Trade Act and the date of the President’s notification to Congress.
The USITC is unaware of any trade agreements that were implemented under the Bipartisan Trade Act between the date of its enactment and March 20, 2018. While at least one trade agreement was negotiated during this period, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, it was not implemented during this period.
The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, will provide the required report to the USTR by June 1, 2018.
The USITC will not hold a public hearing in connection with the investigation; however, the USITC welcomes written submissions for the record. Written submissions should be addressed to the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC, 20436, and should be submitted at the earliest practical date but no later than 5:15 p.m. on May 2, 2018.
Further information on the investigation and the procedures for written submissions is available in the USITC’s notice of investigation, dated April 12, 2018, which can be downloaded from the USITC Internet site (www.usitc.gov) or by contacting the Secretary at the above address.
USITC general factfinding investigations cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting reports convey the Commission's objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.
PierPass to Adopt Appointment System and Flat Fee for OffPeak Program - PierPass
LONG BEACH, Calif., April 16, 2018—PierPass will overhaul the model used by its OffPeak program for truck traffic mitigation at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, replacing the current congestion pricing model with an appointment-based system that uses a single flat fee on both daytime and nighttime container moves.
The members of the West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA)—the 12 marine terminal operators at the two adjacent ports—reached the decision after an 18-month process of consultation with industry stakeholders, and an analysis and survey by industry consultants.
Port users have expressed a desire for changes to increase flexibility and reduce the bunching up of trucks that often occurs before the start of the nighttime OffPeak shifts. Subject to regulatory approval, the revised OffPeak program is expected to begin in August.
“The industry has been demanding ‘PierPass 2.0,’ and we are responding,” said PierPass President John Cushing. “The original OffPeak program was an innovative and highly effective solution to the challenges we faced in 2005. But it was fairly inflexible, whereas an appointment-based model is scalable and can evolve to meet changing industry needs, technology and practices.”
Under the current program, OffPeak charges a Traffic Mitigation Fee (TMF) on weekday daytime cargo moves to incentivize cargo owners to use OffPeak shifts on nights and Saturdays. The revised OffPeak program will replace this two-tier fee structure with a single flat TMF during both shifts, and use appointments to spread traffic across the two shifts.
Applying the TMF to both day and night cargo will allow a reduction of more than 55 percent in the TMF while still providing funding to operate extended gates. The current TMF of $72.09 per TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) will be replaced by a new flat fee of $31.52 per TEU; the rate for all other container sizes will be a flat fee of $63.04.
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CBP Agriculture Specialist and K9 in Charlotte Stop Prohibited Items from Entering the U.S. - U.S. Customs & Border Protection
CHARLOTTE, NC — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations agriculture specialists and members of our “Beagle Brigade” canine unit at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport teamed up to intercept multiple prohibited agricultural items and insects.
On March 25, CBP agriculture specialist and K9 Sheila alerted on a traveler’s checked bags that arrived from Syria. Discovered by CBP agriculture specialist during the inspection process was a collection of 22 types of seeds for planting, two live plants with soil, cactus, coriander, and wheat berries. The coriander, also known as cilantro and wheat berries contained insects.
“These items, whether in commercial cargo or with an individual entering the country, could cause serious damage to America's agricultural crops,” said Patricia Fitzpatrick, CBP Port Director for the Area Port of Charlotte. “CBP’s agriculture specialists and our K9 work side by side to detect and intercept prohibited food items, invasive weed seeds and insects, all which pose a significant threat to U.S. agricultural industries and our nation’s economy.”
CBP agriculture specialists on February 20, working with K9 Shelia, alerted to luggage belonging to a traveler who arrived on a flight from Ghana. CBP agriculture specialist discovered three different types of prohibited fruits, two species of peppers as well as a bag of nuts with husks were found during the inspection.
Due to the risks of pests and or disease, the fruits and nuts are prohibited. During the examination of the peppers for the presence of insects, a lepidopteran larva was discovered.
CBP destroyed all the prohibited items and the travelers were not penalized though warned about properly declaring of agriculture products to CBP.
Travelers can check the general admissibility of fruits and vegetables by consulting the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website or the Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements database.
On a typical day in fiscal year 2017, CBP agriculture specialists discovered 352 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 4,638 materials for quarantine.
TSA Marks Milestone with Stronger Carry-On Screening at all U.S. Federal Airports - Transportation Security Administration
In addition to removing electronics larger than a cellphone, TSA recommends separating foods, powders and items that can clutter bags to ease screening process
WASHINGTON – With the summer travel season on the horizon, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today that it has completed rollout of enhanced screening procedures for carry-on baggage as part of a greater effort to raise the baseline for aviation security. The stronger security measures, which began last summer, require travelers to place all personal electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard lanes.
In addition to screening personal electronic devices separately, including laptops, tablets, e-readers and handheld game consoles, TSA officers may instruct travelers to separate other items from carry-on bags such as foods, powders, and any materials that can clutter bags and obstruct clear images on the X-ray machine. Travelers are encouraged to organize their carry-on bags and keep them uncluttered to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving.
“I am committed to continue raising the baseline for aviation security, and these enhanced screening measures enable TSA officers to better screen for threats to passengers and aircrew while maintaining efficiency at checkpoints throughout the U.S.,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “Our security efforts remain focused on always staying ahead of those trying to do us harm and ensuring travelers get to their destination safely.”
The enhanced carry-on screening procedures have been phased in over the past several months in standard lanes at airports across the country. Travelers may experience minimal changes to what can be brought through the checkpoint; food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on baggage. However, TSA officers may ask travelers to separate dense foods, powders and other items to allow screening officers to obtain a clear X-ray image for security purposes. Items that cannot be identified and resolved at the checkpoint are prohibited from entering the cabin of the aircraft.
While it is possible that passengers may experience more bag checks and additional screening of some items, TSA officers conduct screening with quicker and more targeted procedures to secure passengers and their carry-on baggage. As always, travelers with privacy concerns can request private screening.
Travelers enrolled in TSA Pre✓®
will continue to experience expedited screening by not having to remove shoes, the 3-1-1 liquids bag, laptops, light outerwear jackets, or belts. The program is available for eligible individuals who have been identified as low-risk, trusted travelers. As directed by TSA officers, some of these procedures apply to eligible passengers using TSA Pre✓®
TSA continually adjusts processes and procedures to meet the ever-evolving threat and to achieve the highest levels of transportation security.