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DHS Signs Jones Act Waiver - Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – Today (9/8/17), in recognition of the severity of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke approved a waiver of the federal Jones Act. This waiver will ensure that over the next week, all options are available to distribute fuel to states and territories impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, both historic storms. The waiver will be in effect for seven days after signature and is specifically tailored to transportation of refined products in hurricane-affected areas.

“This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of this potentially devastating storm,” said Acting Secretary Duke.

“Hurricane Harvey significantly disrupted the distribution of fuel across the Southeastern states, and those states will soon experience one of the largest mass evacuations in American history while at the same time we’ll see historic movements through those states of restoration and response crews, followed by goods and commodities back into the devastated areas.”

The Jones Act prohibits the transportation of cargo between points in the U.S., either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel that has a coastwise endorsement (e.g. a vessel that is built in and owned by persons who are citizens of the United States). The last Jones Act waiver was issued in December 2012, for petroleum products to be delivered for relief assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

September 8, 2017 Jones Act Waiver (PDF)


United States and Malaysia Discuss Advancing Bilateral Trade - U.S. Trade Representative

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Malaysian Minister of Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed yesterday ahead of President Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Najib. During the meeting, Ambassador Lighthizer and Minister Mustapa discussed ways to further strengthen their trade relationship. They directed their staffs to make further progress in addressing specific issues being discussed under the U.S.-Malaysia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, including on insurance and financial services, intellectual property, agriculture, goods, labor, and environment.  The two Ministers agreed to stay in close touch over the coming months to assess progress in resolving outstanding issues and to engage on ways to enhance their economic ties and promote more balanced trade between the two nations.

Background

Malaysia is the 18th largest U.S. goods trading partner, with $48.5 billion in bilateral goods trade in 2016. In 2016, the United States had a $24.8 billion goods trade deficit with Malaysia, with U.S. exports of $11.8 billion and U.S. imports of $36.6 billion. In 2015, the United States had a roughly $1.0 billion bilateral services trade surplus with Malaysia, with total bilateral services trade of $4.7 billion.


ITA:  Press Releases - International Trade Administration

09/12/2017 Preliminary Determination in the Countervailing Duty Investigation of Imports of Certain Tool Chests and Cabinets from the People's Republic of China


USITC:  News Releases, Documents and Announcement - International Trade Administration

Overall containers in August grow 8 percent compared to same month last year

Strong consumer demand for goods continued to push cargo higher at the Port of Long Beach, as imports surged more than 10 percent in August compared to the same month last year. The figure was the third-highest monthly import total in the Port’s 106-year history.

Long Beach terminals processed 692,375 twenty-foot equivalent units in all — 8 percent more than last August’s shipments — making it the second-busiest August ever and the third-highest container volume for any month. Cargo is up 6.6 percent for the first eight months of the year over 2016.

“We are on pace to have our highest import year ever and one of our best years, period,” said Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “Our inbound traffic during this peak season signifies optimism among retailers for the holiday season. Simply put, shoppers are buying more, and retailers are restocking their shelves.”

“The modest economic growth we’ve seen since the Great Recession has been replaced this year by robust gains, at least when measured by goods coming into the United States,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Shippers are choosing Long Beach for that because we have the best service and most modern facilities of any seaport in the nation.”

Imports were up 10.6 percent last month against August 2016, to 355,715 TEUs. Exports trended downward, with 117,290 outbound containers loaded onto ships, a 26.3 percent decrease due to shifts in vessel alliances. Empty containers going back to Asia to be refilled with goods climbed to 219,370 TEUs, a 37 percent increase.

For the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.


The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do - Federal Trade Commission

If you have a credit report, there’s a good chance that you’re one of the 143 million American consumers whose sensitive personal information was exposed in a data breach at Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies.

Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too.

There are steps to take to help protect your information from being misused. Visit Equifax’s website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. (This link takes you away from our site. Equifaxsecurity2017.com is not controlled by the FTC.)

  • Find out if your information was exposed. Click on the “Potential Impact” tab and enter your last name and the last six digits of your Social Security number. Your Social Security number is sensitive information, so make sure you’re on a secure computer and an encrypted network connection any time you enter it. The site will tell you if you’ve been affected by this breach.
  • Whether or not your information was exposed, U.S. consumers can get a year of free credit monitoring and other services. The site will give you a date when you can come back to enroll. Write down the date and come back to the site and click “Enroll” on that date. You have until November 21, 2017 to enroll.
  • You also can access frequently asked questions at the site.

Here are some other steps to take to help protect yourself after a data breach:

  • Check your credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — for free — by visiting annualcreditreport.com. Accounts or activity that you don’t recognize could indicate identity theft. Visit IdentityTheft.gov to find out what to do.
  • Consider placing a credit freeze on your files. A credit freeze makes it harder for someone to open a new account in your name. Keep in mind that a credit freeze won’t prevent a thief from making charges to your existing accounts.
  • Monitor your existing credit card and bank accounts closely for charges you don’t recognize.
  • If you decide against a credit freeze, consider placing a fraud alert on your files. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name really is you.
  • File your taxes early — as soon as you have the tax information you need, before a scammer can. Tax identity theft happens when someone uses your Social Security number to get a tax refund or a job. Respond right away to letters from the IRS.

Visit Identitytheft.gov/databreach to learn more about protecting yourself after a data breach.


FAA Sends Mobile Air Traffic Tower to St. Thomas - Federal Aviation Administration

September 13–In the wake of Hurricane Irma’s destructive path through the Caribbean, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is supporting storm recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands with a fully-staffed mobile air traffic control tower at Cyril E. King International Airport in St. Thomas. The tower was fully operational at 9:40 a.m. this morning and is now supporting relief flights by the U.S. military, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, general aviation and limited commercial flights.

The existing air traffic control tower at the airport was badly damaged by the storm, and controllers were managing air traffic from a tent on the airfield for several days before the mobile tower arrived this morning. The FAA is shuttling controllers back and forth from San Juan, Puerto Rico to St. Thomas every day to staff the facility.

A U.S. Air Force C17 airlifted the tower from Boise, Idaho, to St. Thomas, along with a custom-made trailer and a truck to unload it. The tower is equipped with an engine generator, an air conditioner, four radios for the air traffic controllers and instruments to measure barometric pressure, as well as wind speed and direction. The tower arrived in St. Thomas at 6:15 a.m. and was fully operational in three hours and 25 minutes.

In addition to the air traffic controllers, the FAA has an airport certification safety inspector on site at St. Thomas to ensure the airport is safe before air carrier operations resume. He is working closely with the Virgin Islands Port Authority to ensure that its operation is stabilized, airport safety procedures are in place, all hazards are mitigated and the airport is fully compliant with federal airport safety regulations, so recovery efforts can expand and continue.

Airports and associated facilities including terminal buildings, parking lots and access roads are operated by local organizations that decide when to close to commercial operations and when they can safely reopen. The FAA does not decide if or when airports or other local facilities close or reopen. Some airports in a disaster area may stay closed to the public for several days in the wake of a storm to support the response and recovery effort or because roads to and from the airport are inaccessible. FAA air traffic controllers always are ready to safely resume air traffic control service when airports reopen, and frequently are managing air traffic operations for response and recovery flights while airports are closed to the general public.

Commercial Travelers
Due to Hurricane Irma, airlines are likely to cancel many flights in the direct path of the storm and the surrounding area. Flights that are not cancelled may be delayed. Please continue to check the status of your flight with your airline. You can also check the status of some major airports in the storm path by visiting Fly.FAA.gov, which is continuously updated.

Drone Users
As of today, the FAA has issued 138 authorizations to commercial drone operators to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, with 24 still active. The FAA has issued 80 authorizations for Hurricane Irma recovery, 44 of which are active.

Government agencies with an FAA Certificate of Authorization (COA) and private sector Part 107 drone operators who want to fly to support of response and recovery operations are strongly encouraged to coordinate their activities with the local incident commander responsible for the area in which they want to operate.

If UAS operators need to fly in controlled airspace or a disaster TFR to support the response and recovery, operators must contact the FAA’s System Operations Support Center (SOSC) by emailing 9-ATOR-HQ-SOSC@faa.gov to determine the information they need to provide in order to secure authorization to access the airspace. Coordination with the SOSC may also include a requirement that the UAS operator obtain support from the appropriate incident commander. The FAA may require information about the operator, the UAS type, a PDF copy of a current FAA COA, the pilot’s Part 107 certificate number, details about the proposed flight (date, time, location, altitude, direction and distance to the nearest airport, and latitude/longitude), nature of the event (fire, law enforcement, local/national disaster, missing person) and the pilot’s qualification information.

The FAA warns unauthorized drone operators that they may be subject to significant fines if they interfere with emergency response operations. Many aircraft that are conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes over areas affected by the storm. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may unintentionally disrupt rescue operations and violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.
 
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