from World's Poorest Countries
A bill to extend duty-free treatment to all goods imported from least-developed countries has been introduced by Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. Dubbed the New Partnership for Development Act of 2007, the measure would apply to all countries designated as "least-developed" by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, except for Myanmar (Burma), and including Namibia and Botswana. Such countries would be permitted to export their goods to the U.S. without paying tariffs or be subject to import quantity limits. A product's country of origin would be calculated under standards similar to those in the Generalized System of Preferences, which requires that 35 percent of the value of a given finished product be added in the beneficiary country. For some of the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the standard would be lowered to 25 percent in the first 10 years after the bill's implementation. All goods, including textiles and apparel, will be eligible for the benefits, although certain products imported from Cambodia and Bangladesh would still be subject to tariff-rate quotas for 10 years. In exchange for duty-free access to U.S. markets, participating countries would be required to honor international labor standards, show tangible progress toward a market-based economy, and promote respect for the rule of law, political pluralism and human rights, according to the law firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. The bill must now be reviewed by the House Ways and Means subcommittee on trade, and possibly the House Foreign Affairs Committee as well. A similar measure is likely to be introduced in the Senate in the near future.
U.S. Seeks Trade Agreement to Combat Counterfeiting and Piracy, Trade Representative Announces
The U.S. and some of its key trading partners are pushing for an Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), according U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab. The pact would focus on three primary areas: cooperation, best practices and a legal framework for enforcement of intellectual property rights. "Global counterfeiting and piracy steal billions of dollars from workers, artists and entrepreneurs each year and jeopardize the health and safety of citizens across the world," Schwab said. "The United States looks forward to partnering with many of our key trading partners to combat this global problem." Other countries said to be engaged in discussions about ACTA include Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland and the 27 member states of the European Union. ACTA would work in tandem with the Administration's current efforts to encourage other countries to comply with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and other international IPR agreements. The new agreement would not require any changes to TRIPS, Schwab said. Instead, the U.S. wants to set a "new, higher benchmark" for enforcement, which countries can join on a voluntary basis. Negotiations will not be conducted as part of any international organization, according to the USTR. The U.S. also pursues IPR issues under its various free trade pacts, Trade and Investment Framework Agreements (TIFA), the WTO, bilateral discussions, the annual USTR review process known as Special 301, preference programs and dispute settlements.
U.S. Ports Line Up to Enroll in Homeland Security's Worker-Identification Credential Program
The Department of Homeland Security's Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program is starting to take hold at the nation's ports. Enrollment recently began at the Port of Wilmington, Del., with the ports of Corpus Christi, TX and Tacoma, Wash., among others, quickly following suit. At Corpus Christi, the second port to participate in TWIC, some 6,000 workers are expected to enroll at the local Safety Council Office. Corpus Christi is the seventh largest port in the U.S. in terms of tonnage movement. "The start of enrollment is one more step in our effort to prevent persons who are a threat from gaining access to secure areas of port facilities," said Maurine Fanguy, TWIC program director for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Tacoma will be the first in its region to sign on with TWIC, which requires a biometric identification credential that must be produced by workers for unescorted access to secure areas at all U.S. ports. Also in the next wave of ports to participate are Baton Rouge, La.; Beaumont, TX; Honolulu, HI and Oakland, Calif. They will be followed by Chicago/Calumet, Ill.; Houston, TX; Port Arthur, TX; Providence, RI and Savannah, Ga. TSA estimates that all U.S. port workers will have TWIC I.D. cards by October of 2008. The program is expected to involve more than one million workers, including longshoremen, truckers and port employees. Ultimately, fixed enrollment centers will be located at 147 ports, in addition to mobile centers at dozens of other locations as needed, TSA said.
Three Ports Inaugurate Secure Freight Initiative, With 100-Percent Screening of Radiological Materials
The Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) is underway, having been implemented at the Southhampton Container Terminals in the United Kingdom, Port Qasim in Pakistan, and Puerto Cortez in Honduras. The ports have begun scanning all ocean containers destined for the U.S. for nuclear or other radiological materials. The requirement is part of the Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act of 2006, which sets up a program that combines non-intrusive inspection with radiation-detection technology. Results are conveyed for analysis to officials at U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP's) National Targeting Center. "This initiative advances a comprehensive strategy to secure the global supply chain and substantially limits the potential for terrorist threats," said Jayson P. Ahern, deputy commissioner of CBP. Phase 1 of the program includes scanning on a limited-capacity basis at four additional ports: the Brani terminal in Singapore; Gamman terminal in Busan, South Korea; Modern Terminal in Hong Kong, and Salalah, Oman. The U.S. contributed around $60m to the Secure Freight Initiative, for the installation of scanning systems and communications infrastructure. The U.S. government is committed to implementing 100-percent scanning "in a logical and practical manner that does not adversely affect global trade," CBP said.
Application for Customs' Automated Commercial Environment Can Now Be Submitted Online
Applications for participating in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can now be completed, signed digitally and e-mailed directly to the agency for submission. "The new application makes signing up for ACE faster and easier," said Louis Samenfink, executive director of CBP's Cargo Systems Program Office. "We want to expedite this process as much as possible so that companies can begin to see the benefits of an ACE account right away." Applicants can download the ACE portal account application via the CBP website, complete the data fields electronically, select the digital signature option, and e-mail the completed application to ACE.Applications@dhs.gov with the click of a button. Submissions by e-mail should "significantly" reduce the time required to obtain delivery confirmation, CBP said. Applicants who do not wish to submit their information electronically may continue to submit signed paper applications.
U.S. Chamber Endorses Promotion Agreement for Trade With Peru; Citing Benefits to Small Business
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has praisedÃ‚Â the House of Representatives for passingÃ‚Â the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act (PTPA). According to the chamber, the bill will bring "tangible benefits" to American workers, farmers and businesses, while promoting the foreign-policy interests of the U.S. "More than 5,000 U.S. companies export their products to Peru, and over 80 percent of these are small and medium-sized companies that stand to benefit significantly from this trade agreement," said John Murphy, vice president of international affairs. "The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates this agreement will add a billion dollars to U.S. exports," he added. U.S. trade with Peru has doubled over the past three years, reaching $8.6bn in 2006. In the early 1990s, the U.S. unilaterally opened its market to Peru, and nearly everything imported from that country today enters the U.S. market duty-free. Americans selling goods to Peru, on the other hand, face average tariffs of 11 percent for manufactured goods and 16 percent for agricultural goods. The PTPA will eliminate nearly all tariffs on U.S. exports to Peru within a few years, giving American workers and farmers "a level playing field," the chamber said.
Bush Stumps for Passage of Pending Free-Trade Agreements With Latin America and South Korea
President Bush recently urged Congress to pass free-trade agreements (FTAs) with Peru, Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Addressing the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, he said the agreement will benefit workers, farmers and businesses in the U.S. Existing FTAs are already having a positive impact on the U.S. economy, he claimed. "For example, in the four years since we signed a free-trade agreement with Chile, American exports to that country have more than doubled," he said. "And in just one year since we began implementing a free-trade agreement with Central American nations and the Dominican Republic, American exports have grown by 13 percent." The five pending FTAs will expand U.S. access to 75 million new consumers, Bush said. He called the deals "a historic opportunity to strengthen the forces of freedom and democracy throughout the Americas."
Calendar: Upcoming Events Related to Global Trade Management
ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) Exchange XIII
San Francisco, CA
Nov. 27-29, 2007
Essentials of Export Controls
U.S. Commerce Department Bureau of Industry and Security Seminar
Dec. 6, 2007
5th Annual Supply Chain & Logistics Summit North America
St. Augustine, FL
Dec. 6-7, 2007
"C-TPAT Security Requirements: Where Are We Now?" Trade Compliance Workshop
San Francisco, CA
Jan. 16, 2008
International Compliance Professionals Association, 5th Annual Conference
San Antonio, TX
March 9-13, 2008
Supply Chain Operations Private Exposition
March 19-20, 2008
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