Steptoe’s International Trade group has put together a helpful guide to the new NAFTA (the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)).

The Agreement must still go through ratification and implementation processes in all three countries before it can enter into force. In the coming weeks, the Trump Administration will submit legislation to Congress to implement the USMCA. Before a vote can be taken in the United States, however, the Administration will first need to resolve concerns and objections raised by members of Congress from both parties, making any vote on the USMCA challenging before the congressional summer recess.

Although the USMCA carries over a number of NAFTA’s important market-opening elements, it also introduces a number of changes that carry potentially significant implications for business planning across many sectors.
Continue Reading USMCA Unlocked: Working Under the New NAFTA

On February 26, 2019, Steptoe, Greenlane, and the UK Trade Forum are hosting an interactive discussion on how customs authorities and companies around Europe are preparing for Brexit. The event will take place in London.

For more information and to register for the event, please click here.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on the evening of May 23 that he would begin a Section 232 investigation into the national security implications of automobile imports. According to a Department of Commerce (DOC) statement, the investigation will “determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans, light trucks, and automotive parts into the United

Very far, under existing US law. The authority already available to the President under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) is vast, and could be applied to Chinese investments with the (relatively) simple declaration of a national emergency related to such investments.  Reports have already been swirling about a plan by the Trump Administration to use IEEPA to impose tighter restrictions on Chinese investment in sensitive sectors of the US economy, or to implement by executive order parts of the CFIUS reform legislation under consideration by Congress.  But IEEPA could be used far more broadly than that.

Although rumors of new trade and investment restrictions against China have been in circulation for several months, the President’s March 22 order in response to the “Section 301 investigation” on Chinese trade practices has brought those rumors into sharper focus.  In his order, President Trump directed the Secretary of the Treasury to develop options “under any available statutory authority” that could be used “to address concerns about investment in the United States directed or facilitated by China in industries or technologies deemed important to the United States.” 
Continue Reading How Far Can the US Take Trade and Investment Restrictions on China?

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) published on April 3, 2018 a proposed list of products imported from China to target with an additional 25% tariff. These tariffs have been proposed in response to USTR’s findings in an investigation conducted under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Section 301) and would

On March 22, 2018, in response to the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) investigation into Chinese trade practices under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the Trump Administration announced plans to 1) impose additional 25% tariffs on various Chinese imports, 2) initiate a new WTO dispute against China, and 3) limit Chinese investments

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) recently issued a ruling on the classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”) of Apple Watch Bands. In the ruling, CBP concluded that the watch bands properly are classified under heading 9113, which specifically covers “watch bands” and “watch straps”.  CBP declined Apple’s request that the watch bands be classified under heading 8517, for parts of a radio transceiver – or, in other words, parts of an Apple Watch. These HTS classifications have commercial significance because the usual duty rate for products in heading 9113 ranges from 1.8 percent to 11.2 percent, but the duty rate for products in subheading 8517.70 (for parts of a radio transceiver) is zero.

This ruling underscores a key classification principle, from Rule 1 of the General Rules of Interpretation (“GRI 1”) of the Harmonized System. GRI 1 requires that the first place to look when determining an item’s classification is “the terms of the {four-digit} headings and any relative Section or Chapter Notes.”  In other words, to determine classification one must turn first to the four-digit tariff schedule headings, and any section or chapter notes for that heading.  Only then, as CBP reminds in the watch band ruling, “in the event that the goods cannot be classified solely on the basis of GRI 1, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, GRIs 2 through 6 may then be applied in order.”  In other words, if the language of a heading, at the four digit level, matches the product in its condition as imported, then the product is properly classified somewhere in that heading, without looking at other headings, other subheadings, or other GRIs.
Continue Reading How Your Smart Watch Illuminates Fundamental Customs Classification Principles