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Last week, President Obama signed H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. This is also known as the Customs Authorization Bill. This legislation is an important and relevant breakthrough for CBP because it is the first reauthorization for their agency since being created in 2003. "By authorizing CBP, the Act establishes a modern foundation for the agency’s critical missions to counter terrorism and transnational crime, advance comprehensive border security and management, and enhance U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel," stated an article by U.S Customs and Border Protection.
The article also stated:
"The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act aligns with these goals by enhancing CBP’s ability to prevent violations and take strong actions against violators. It bolsters our ability to prevent and disrupt the flow of counterfeit goods into the U.S., a critical tool to safeguarding U.S. intellectual property rights. The Act also formally recognizes CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs), one of the agency’s major efforts to modernize and streamline operations by consolidating certain operations by industry sectors. It also strengthens CBP’s efforts around Preclearance, creating mechanisms to expand and fund these agreements, further extending CBP’s security capabilities abroad. And, imperative to human rights protections around the world, the Act eliminates obstacles to preventing imports made with forced or child labor into the United States."
Effective January 13 at all U.S. ports of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will detain cotton products and tomato products produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against cotton products and tomato products produced in Xinjiang based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor. The agency identified the following forced labor indicators through the course of its investigation: debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.
The deployment of the Aluminum Import Monitoring and Analysis (AIM) system scheduled for January 25, 2021 has been delayed until March 29, 2021. The AIM system website consists of an online aluminum import license application platform and public monitoring. This delay means that licenses will not be required for covered aluminum products until the new implementation date.
The U.S. Trade Representative has determined to suspend the tariff action in the Section 301 investigation of France’s Digital Services Tax (DST). The additional tariffs on certain products of France were announced in July 2020 and were scheduled to go into effect on January 6, 2021. The U.S. Trade Representative has decided to suspend the tariffs of the ongoing investigation of similar DSTs adopted or under consideration in ten other jurisdictions. Those investigations have significantly progressed; however, have not yet reached a determination on possible trade actions. A suspension of the tariff action in the France DST investigation will promote a coordinated response in the ongoing DST investigations.