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On April 27, the House of Representatives approved a 415-2 vote a bill (H.R. 4923) to reform the process of developing and enacting miscellaneous trade bills which suspend duties on imported products for which there is inadequate domestic production and availability.
A statement by the Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report:
"Under H.R. 4923, the MTB process would begin with petitions submitted by U.S. businesses to the International Trade Commission rather than via legislation introduced by members of Congress. The ITC would analyze these petitions, taking into account comments received from the public and the White House, and then issue a public report to Congress with its recommendations regarding those products that meet MTB standards. Ways and Means would then examine the ITC’s recommendations and draft an MTB, which could exclude products recommended by the ITC but could not add products that were not recommended. The committee would have to certify that there are no spending earmarks and publish a list of any limited tariff benefits (tax cuts that benefit ten or fewer businesses). The House and Senate would then consider the MTB within existing rules."
An announcement was published on July 29, 2020 that user fees within the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) will take place effective October 1, 2020. The minimum merchandise processing fee will change from $26.79 to $27.23 and the maximum will change from $519.76 to $528.33. The ad valorem rate of 0.3464% will not change. Additional user fees are also increasing.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has announced that 14 products from the Section 301 exclusion list scheduled to expire July 31st will continue to be excluded through December 31, 2020. Additionally, there are other products on the list that expired on July 31st. Comments are currently being accepted for three sets of exclusions that are scheduled to expire October 2, 2020. Comments can be submitted by clicking HERE
On July 14, 2020, the President signed an Executive Order that requires Hong Kong to be treated as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for the purposes of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). Hong Kong is now considered to be included in the entry for China under section 126.1(d)(1) of the ITAR and therefore subject to a policy of denial for all transfers subject to the ITAR. The U.S. government is taking this action because the Chinese Communist Party has fundamentally undermined Hong Kong’s autonomy and thereby increased the risk that sensitive U.S. items will be illegally diverted to the PRC.