President Trump has directed the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to consider increasing the proposed tariffs under Section 301 from 10% to 25% for the entire $200 billion list (also known as “List 3”). Because of this, the USTR has extended several of the dates in the public comment process.

The USTR circulated an e-mail on August 2 to parties that had submitted a request to appear in the upcoming Section 301 hearing for the “List 3” products. In it, the USTR clarified information provided in a press release on August 1.

To summarize:

  • The due date for filing requests to appear and a summary of expected testimony at the public hearing and for filing pre-hearing submissions is extended from July 27 to August 13, 2018.
  • The due date for submission of written comments is extended from August 17 to September 5, 2018.
  • The due date for submission of post-hearing rebuttal comments is also extended from August 30 to September 5, 2018.
  • The scheduled start date of the Section 301 hearing (August 20) has not changed.
    • The Section 301 Committee may extend the length of the hearing depending on the number of additional interested persons who request to appear. As of now, the hearing is scheduled to take place from August 20 to August 23.
    • The USTR will provide the full hearing schedule the day before the hearing, per USTR policy.

 

 

 

 

On July 31, 2018, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Ukraine-/Russia-related General License 13C, which replaces and supersedes General License 13B in its entirety. 

General License 13C extends to 12:01 a.m. October 23, 2018, the “authorized period to make certain divestment and transfer activities related to debt, equity, or other holdings in EN+ Group, GAZ Group, or United Company RUSAL PLC, or in entities in which those persons own, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, that were issued by Irkutskenergo, GAZ Auto Plant, or Rusal Capital Designated Activity Company (Other Issuer Holdings), subject to certain conditions and exceptions.” 

Previously, General License 13B had authorized the same activity, but only until 12:01 a.m. August 5, 2018.

Further information on this topic in may be found in FAQs 570 and 571 on OFAC’s website.

 

On July 24-25, 2018, the Office of the United State Trade Representative (USTR) held public hearings regarding proposed tariffs on approximately $16 billion of Chinese products.

Rebuttal comments are due on Tuesday, July 31, 2018.

The list identifying these products (also known as “List 2”) was released last month and represents 284 new tariff lines identified by the interagency Section 301 Committee as “benefiting from Chinese industrial policies, including the “Made in China 2025” industrial policy.”

Section 301 For covered products in List 1, please click here. 25% 7/6/2018
For covered products in List 2, please click here. TBD TBD
For covered products in List 3, please click here and see Annex 10% TBD
Status: List 1 totaling $34 billion worth of imports is composed of 818 tariff lines, and went into effect on 7/6/2018.

List 2 totaling $16 billion worth of imports is composed of 284 proposed tariff lines identified by the interagency Section 301 Committee. This was the subject of the hearings.

List 3 includes a list of tariff lines of products from China with an annual trade value totaling approximately $200 billion. These are also subject to a public review process.

The Committee heard testimony from over 80 witnesses on whether to include certain tariff lines in List 2. The witnesses represented trade organization and corporations of all sizes. The USTR intends to publish a transcript of the hearing, but did not provide a date.

Most of the witnesses requested that the Committee remove specific tariff lines from the list. The most common justifications were as follows:

  • The United States has a trade surplus in a particular good, and the 301 duties would harm that industry;
  • The increased duties would:
    • lead directly to the loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs;
    • lead directly to an increase in the price of goods to the U.S. consumer; and
    • would have no effect on China’s intellectual property practices;
  • The goods targeted on List 2:
    • are only available from China; and
    • are not relevant to the “Made in China 2025” program.

Witnesses who supported the Section 301 duties asserted that they were necessary to protect U.S. manufacturing concerns and that sufficient capacity existed in the United States to manufacture the listed products.

The Committee asked questions of the witnesses when their testimony was complete. The questions fell into several broad categories:

  • Would the Section 301 duties affect the cost and availability of medical devices?
  • Why isn’t current U.S. manufacturing capacity available to meet U.S. demand?
  • Are the listed goods available from non-Chinese foreign suppliers?
  • How long would it take to increase production in the U.S., or to requalify a new non-Chinese supplier?

 

When preparing rebuttal comments, the Committee’s questions to the witnesses should be considered.

On July 19, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued Venezuela General License 5.

General License 5 authorizes U.S. persons to engage in all transactions related to, the provision of financing for, and other dealings in the Petróleos de Venezuela SA 2020 8.5 Percent Bond that would be prohibited by Subsection 1(a)(iii) of  Executive Order 13835 of May 21, 2018 (“Prohibiting Certain Additional Transactions With Respect to Venezuela”) (E.O. 13835). In practice, General License 5 expands the previously issued General License No.3. by adding a new bond to the list of previously authorized bonds.

OFAC also published two new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).One explains why OFAC is issuing General License 5. The other answers the question of whether E.O. 13835 prohibits a U.S. person with a legal judgment against the Government of Venezuela from attaching and executing against Venezuelan government assets.

 

 

 

On July 16, 2018, the Court of Federal Claims released a far-reaching decision in Acetris Health, LLC v. United States, concluding that a drug could qualify as a “U.S.-made end product” under the Trade Agreements clause, FAR 52.225-5, despite a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ruling under the Trade Agreements Act (TAA), that the drug had not been “substantially transformed” in the United States, the usual test for whether a product from a designated country is eligible for sale to the United States under the TAA. The court concluded that a drug which met the definition of a “domestic end product” would also qualify as a “U.S.-made end product” and enjoined the Department of Veterans Affairs from relying on the CPB ruling in declaring the product ineligible. In doing so, the court has given effect to often overlooked language in the FAR 25.003 definition of “U.S.-made end product” that allows either an item manufactured in the United States or an item substantially transformed in the United States to be eligible for sale to the federal government. The decision opens the door for manufactured COTS items to be eligible under the TAA as long as final assembly occurs in the United States, without regard to the source of a COTS product’s components. It might even have broader implications because the FAR has never included an express definition of “manufacture,” and the definition of “U.S. made end product” does not expressly reference the definition of “domestic end product,” under which, in the Buy American context, “manufacture” is just one of two elements for determining eligibility.

On July 10, 2018, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer announced that at President Trump’s request, USTR has initiated the process of imposing an additional 10 percent ad valorem duty on approximately $200 billion worth of imports from China.

The USTR statement included a link to an advance copy of the Federal Register Notice with the list of proposed tariffs and the process for the public notice and comment period.

This is the formal publication in the Federal Register of this notice.

For more information on the proposed tariffs and the process for the public notice and comment period, please see our previous article.

 

 

In a July 13, 2018 press release, the Commerce Department announced it had lifted the denial order on Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation, of Shenzhen, China (ZTE Corporation) and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. of Hi-New Shenzhen, China (ZTE Kangxun) (collectively, ZTE). Commerce took this action shortly after ZTE deposited $400 million in escrow at a U.S. bank to provide a form of security that ZTE will comply with its continuing obligations under the June 2018 superseding settlement agreement. The funds in escrow are in addition to the $1 billion paid to the U.S. Treasury last month.

According to the press release, the $1.4 billion paid under the 2018 settlement agreement is in addition to the $892 million in penalties ZTE paid to the U.S government under the original March 2017 settlement agreement. That agreement included a suspended denial order against the company, which the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) had activated on April 15, 2018.

The 2018 settlement agreement requires ZTE to retain a team of special compliance coordinators selected by and answerable to BIS for a period of 10 years. The June 2018 agreement again imposed a denial order that is suspended, this time for 10 years, and BIS can activate it in the event of additional violations during the ten-year probationary period. Pursuant to the 2018 agreement, ZTE has also replaced the entire board of directors and senior leadership for both entities.

 

On Monday, July 16, 2018, the Commerce Department will post a notice in the Federal Register cancelling one of the days of the two-day public hearing associated with the investigation the Department is conducting to determine whether imports of automobiles, including cars, SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts threaten to impair the national security and to recommend remedies if such a threat is found to exist.

The hearing was originally scheduled for July 19 and 20. The Department received 45 requests to testify, which can all be accommodated on a single day. Therefore, the second day of the hearing originally scheduled for July 20 is cancelled.

The hearing will be held on July 19 only and will begin at 8:30 am and will end at 5:30 pm. The location of the hearing remains unchanged.

 

 

 

 

On July 11, 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) opened the docket for China 301 Product Exclusion Requests on regulations.gov. The Docket ID is USTR-2018-0025.

The docket includes USTR’s ‘China 301 Product Exclusion Form’.

In its July 11 Federal Register Notice describing the procedures to use for product exclusion requests, USTR states, “To assist in review of requests for exclusion, USTR has prepared a request form that will be posted on the USTR website under ‘‘Enforcement/Section 301 investigations’’ and on the www.regulations.gov docket in the ‘‘supporting documents’’ section. USTR strongly encourages interested persons to use the form to submit requests.”

The Section 301 exclusion form is more simplified than the earlier Section 232 exclusion form. Interested parties can still submit supporting documents in addition to the form, and there is no page limit to the submission

As a reminder, this product exclusion request process only applies to those goods subject to the ad valorem duty of 25 percent on products from China classified in the 818 subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) set out in Annex A of the June 20, 2018, Federal Register Notice. Note that Annex B to the notice contains the same list of tariff subheadings, with unofficial descriptions of the types of products covered in each subheading.

For more information on key dates and submission guidelines for China Section 301 Product Exclusion Requests, please click here for Crowell’s post discussing the specifics of the notice.

 

 

 

On July 10, 2018, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer announced that at President Trump’s request, USTR has initiated the process of imposing an additional 10 percent ad valorem duty on approximately $200 billion worth of imports from China including apparel, textiles, chemicals, and agricultural & aquacultural goods.

The USTR statement includes a link to an advance copy of the Federal Register Notice with the list of proposed tariffs and the process for the public notice and comment period. The notice will be published in the Federal Register later this week.

This is the third round of additional tariffs proposed by the Trump administration as a result of its Section 301 investigation into China’s alleged unfair trade practices related to “the forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property.”

The notice indicated the USTR will maintain the first round of tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods implemented on July 6, and will continue with a second round of proposed tariffs on $16 billion worth of goods. This second list is currently under review in a public notice and comment process, with a public hearing scheduled for July 24, 2018.

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings of the products subject to the proposed tariffs is listed in the Annex (pages 11-205) to the notice.

The notice also included a list of key dates for a public notice, comment, and hearing process:

  • July 27, 2018: Due date for filing requests to appear and a summary of expected testimony at the public hearing, and for filing pre-hearing submissions.
  • August 17, 2018: Due date for submission of written comments.
  • August 20-23, 2018: The Section 301 Committee will convene a public hearing in the main hearing room of the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436 beginning at 9:30 am.
  • August 30, 2018: Due date for submission of post-hearing rebuttal comments.

 

 

Section 301 For covered products in List 1, please click here. 25% 7/6/2018
For covered products in List 2, please click here. TBD TBD
For covered products in List 3, please click here and see Annex 10% TBD
Status: List 1 totaling $34 billion worth of imports is composed of 818 tariff lines, and went into effect on 7/6/2018.

 

List 2 totaling $16 billion worth of imports is composed of 284 proposed tariff lines identified by the interagency Section 301 Committee. These are in a public review process.

 

List 3 includes a list of tariff lines of products from China with an annual trade value totaling approximately $200 billion. These are also subject to a public review process.