New Developments in U.S. Aluminum & Steel – Import Monitoring

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background on Section 232 Investigations

There is significant discussion among the trade community about the future of the Section 232 aluminum and steel tariffs. Section 232 investigations, administered by the U.S. Commerce Department, are conducted to determine the imports of certain goods on national security. Historically, Section 232 investigations have been conducted regarding U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products and uranium, among other critical imports. Under the Trump administration, the Commerce Department initiated investigations of U.S. imports of aluminum and steel on April 27, 2017. The investigation resulted in an affirmative determination that such imports harm U.S. national security. The Commerce Department’s investigation reports found that:

  • The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel – with imports four times exports.
  • World steelmaking capacity is 2.4 billion metric tons, up 127% from 2000, while steel demand grew at a slower rate.
  • The recent global excess capacity is 700 million tons, almost 7 times the annual total of U.S. steel consumption. China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity. Their excess capacity alone exceeds the total U.S. steel-making capacity.
  • Aluminum imports have risen to 90% of total demand for primary aluminum

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USTR Announces China 301 Tariff Exclusion Extensions for COVID-Related Products

On December 29, 2020, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced long-awaited extensions to a limited set of previously granted exclusions (for COVID-related products), that were set to expire on December 31, 2020. Meanwhile, importers across non-COVID industries are continuing to await guidance on their tariff exclusion extensions that are set to expire on December 31, 2020.

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New National Space Policy Drives American Leadership in Space Commerce

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

National Space Policy Unveiled

On December 9, 2020, the White House released the National Space Policy of the United States of America. Among other objectives, the policy seeks to drive U.S. leadership in space commerce by encouraging the cultivation of U.S. industrial capacity in space innovation.

 

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A Year in Review!

2020 has been a difficult year filled with immense challenge and change (to say the least). From all of us at Diaz Trade Law, we are incredibly thankful and grateful for your support. Despite a pandemic, Diaz Trade Law still managed to save our clients MILLIONS of dollars in 2020. It is with great joy that we finish off 2020 filled with numerous achievements and accomplishments. We look forward to assisting you in what we envision will be a better and brighter 2021!

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Catch Up on Diaz Trade Law’s Top Blogs From 2020!

 

We want to make sure you stay up to date with the hottest trade blogs from 2020. Below is a summary of what you missed by category. Enjoy!

 

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U.S.-Cuba Trade under Trump vs. Biden

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

U.S.-Cuba Trade under Trump

Since the early 1960s, the U.S. maintained a policy of economic sanctions towards Cuba. The U.S. policy sought to isolate the Cuban government. In 2014, the Obama administration significantly changed U.S. trade and economic policies towards Cuba by restoring diplomatic relations, rescinding Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror, and permitting increased trade between the two countries. This period was known as the Cuban Thaw.

However, under President Trump’s administration, the Obama administration’s efforts to normalize relations have been rolled back. In November 2017, the Trump administration restricted financial transactions with entities controlled by the Cuban government. Furthermore, many new entities have been added to the Cuba restricted list under the Trump administration. As of 2019, the Trump administration has more or less abandoned engagement with the Cuban government, and has opted instead to increase sanctions based on Cuba’s human rights violations and its support of the Venezuelan government under Nicolas Maduro.

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Goldman Sachs Pays $2.9 Billion in FCPA Settlement

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Largest FCPA Settlement to Date

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced in October that Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (“Goldman Sachs”) agreed to pay $2.9 billion as part of a settlement agreement. The settlement was a result of the agencies’ enforcement action after they learned that Goldman Sachs had allegedly paid $1.6 billion in bribes to officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (“UAE”) to secure its position as the underwriter of $6.5 billion in three bond deals with 1Malaysia Development Berhad. The settlement constitutes the largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) settlement ever recorded.

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USMCA Comment Opportunity – Due Dec. 31

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

USMCA Background

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) is a free trade agreement that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) and entered into force on July 1, 2020. The USMCA enjoyed significant bipartisan support and was widely considered a successful effort at “modernizing” NAFTA.

From a labor perspective, the USMCA contains much stronger provisions than its predecessor. Rather than comprising enforceable labor provisions, NAFTA was accompanied by a labor side agreement which only listed guiding principles pertaining to workers’ rights. On the other hand, the USMCA comprises an enforceable chapter dedicated to labor containing strong provisions in favor of workers rights.

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Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers – Comments Due December 28, 2020

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Background

Section 641 of the Tariff Act of 1930 provides that individuals and business entities must hold a valid customs broker’s license and permit to transact customs business on behalf of others. The statute also sets forth standards for the issuance of broker licenses and permits; provides for disciplinary action against brokers in the form of suspension or revocation of such licenses and permits; and provides for the assessment of monetary penalties against other persons for conducting customs business without the required broker’s license. Section 641 also authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe rules and regulations relating to the customs business of brokers as may be necessary to protect importers and the revenue of the United States.

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Strengthening the Public Health Industrial Base Comment Opportunity Due December 23, 2020

Co-Authored by Sharath Patil

Weaknesses in the Public Health Industrial Base

Critical technology shortages have been a focus of President Trump’s trade and industrial policies. In an October 2020 report on the topic, the Trump administration identified medical and public health technologies as a key sector in which the U.S. needs to do more to protect and cultivate its technological advantage. According to some analysts, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the United States’ public health industrial base is overly reliant on imports for critical medical and pharmaceutical needs. The first few months of the pandemic were characterized by significant shortages of key medical supplies such as ventilators and personal protective equipment. However, this overreliance pre-dated the pandemic. For example, in October 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) estimated that the United States accounts for only 28 percent of global active pharmaceutical ingredient (“API”) manufacturing facilities and that 80 percent of APIs consumed in the United States are produced abroad, the majority in China and India.

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