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21

President Obama to Sign Korea, Panama, Colombia Free Trade Agreements and Trade Adjustment Assistance

The White House - Office of the Press Secretary / http://www.whitehouse.gov

WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, October 21st, President Obama will sign the Korea, Panama and Colombia Free Trade Agreements and the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance for workers in the Oval Office before making remarks in the Rose Garden. In his remarks, President Obama will underscore that these trade agreements will significantly boost American exports, support tens of thousands of American jobs and protect labor rights, the environment and intellectual property. President Obama will be joined in the Rose Garden by business and labor leaders as well as workers who will benefit from these bills.


CBP Launches Centers to Facilitate Processing of Imports

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov

Washington — U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced today the establishment of two industry-specific centers: the Center of Excellence and Expertise – Electronics in Los Angeles and the Center of Excellence and Expertise – Pharmaceuticals in New York.

The centers, which previously functioned as pilot programs, will continue efforts to increase uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and further strengthen critical agency knowledge on key industry practices.

“The Centers of Excellence and Expertise will fundamentally transform the way CBP approaches trade operations and works with the international trade community,” said CBP Commissioner Alan D. Bersin. “They will also help facilitate legitimate trade while enabling us to concentrate our enforcement efforts on potential threats to our nation’s security and economic competitiveness.”

Initially, the centers will serve as a single point of processing for businesses enrolled in CBP’s trusted shipper programs, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the Importer Self-Assessment (ISA).

The centers will also serve as a resource to the broader trade community and to CBP’s U.S. government partners; center personnel will answer questions, provide information and develop trade facilitation strategies to address uniformity and compliance concerns.

Required import documents for trusted partners within the electronics and pharmaceutical industries are now being routed to their respective industry center. While revenue collection will continue to be carried out at the ports of entry, the centers will begin to perform all validation activities, protests, post entry amendment/post summary correction reviews, and prior disclosure validations for the trusted partners within their industry.

By redirecting work involving trusted shippers within the electronics and pharmaceutical industries to centralized, industry-specific locations, ports of entry will be able to more effectively focus resources on high-risk shipments and importers that may pose a danger to U.S. border security, harm the health and safety of consumers, or violate U.S. trade laws and intellectual property rights critical to our nation’s economic competitiveness. In turn, the approach to trade processing facilitated by the new centers will reduce transaction costs for the trade community, facilitate legitimate trade through risk segmentation, increase agency expertise and deliver greater transparency and uniformity of action within a given industry.

( More information on the pilots and CBP’s C-TPAT and ISA trusted shipper programs )
( CBP Initiates the Center of Excellence and Expertise and Account Executive Pilots )
( Pharmaceutical Center of Excellence and Expertise )
( C-TPAT: Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism )
( Importer Self-Assessment Program (ISA)


U.S. Targets Chinese Internet Restrictions in Latest Trade Enforcement EffortSandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com

In what is likely to be seen as another effort to show that it is “getting tough” with China, the Obama administration announced Oct. 19 that under World Trade Organization rules it is seeking detailed information on the trade impact of Chinese policies that may block U.S. companies’ Web sites in China. A press release from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative explains that a Web site that can be accessed in China is increasingly a critical element for service suppliers aiming to reach Chinese consumers but that a number of U.S. businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, have expressed concerns regarding the adverse business impacts from periodic disruptions to the availability of their Web sites in China. While the U.S. believes that the best Internet policy is to encourage the free flow of information globally, the press release notes, this WTO request relates specifically to the commercial and trade impact of the Internet disruptions. Accordingly, the U.S. is “asking China to provide details that will allow a fuller understanding of the legal and policy rules relevant to the accessibility of commercial Web sites in China.”


New Recovery Act-Funded Land Port of Entry Open at Noonan, N.D.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov

Noonan, N.D. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection today announced the opening of a new land border port of entry in Noonan, N.D. The new facility, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, will help strengthen security along the Northern border while facilitating the flow of legal travel and trade.

“The Noonan port facility will enhance our mission to secure our borders,” said CBP Assistant Commissioner for Administration Eugene H. Schied. “The updated infrastructure and technologies of this facility provide more secure, efficient, and expedited processing for travelers crossing our Northern border.”

CBP is using Recovery Act funds to modernize more than 35 land ports of entry along the Northern border to meet security and operational needs. The new facility in Noonan supports current inspection requirements and will be adaptable for CBP’s future border security and trade facilitation needs.

The Department of Homeland Security continues to invest additional personnel and technology along the Northern border–deploying more than 2,200 Border Patrol agents and nearly 3,800 CBP officers throughout the region to manage the flow of people and goods through ports of entry and designated border crossings.

CBP continues to deploy state-of-the-art technology along the Northern border, including thermal camera systems, Mobile Surveillance Systems, and Remote Video Surveillance Systems. Additionally, CBP unmanned aircraft currently patrol nearly 950 miles along the Northern border from Washington to Minnesota, and approximately 200 miles along the northern border in New York and Lake Ontario.


Nearly $3 Million in Penalties, Export Denial Order to Illegal Trans-shipments to Iran

Sandler Travis & Rosenberg PA / www.strtrade.com

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced Oct. 14 that a New York company and its principal owner have agreed to settle charges arising from apparent violations of the Iranian Transactions Regulations relating to unlicensed exports of computer-related goods from the U.S. through the United Arab Emirates to Iran. The company and its owner will pay a $1.67 million criminal fine and forfeit $1.25 million in assets. They also accepted BIS orders prohibiting them from exporting any goods from the U.S. for a ten-year period, although these orders were suspended provided that the company and its owner remain in compliance with the terms of their settlement agreements. OFAC notes that the violations at issue were not voluntarily disclosed and are considered egregious.


CBP At Louisville UPS Finds Marijuana Inside Wooden Table

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / www.cbp.gov

Louisville— On October 11, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers working at the Louisville UPS Express Consignment Operation discovered almost 25 pounds of marijuana, worth $75,000, hidden inside a wooden table shipped from Mexico.

CBP officers found the drugs after routine x-rays showed anomalies within this everyday item. Smugglers created a hollow cavity in the table’s pedestal in which 24.6 pounds of marijuana was secreted. The interdicted table with narcotics was destined for an address in Iowa. No arrests have been made in relation to this seizure as the case is still under investigation.

“This discovery is a direct result of the officer’s use of their intuition, experience and available resources in the detection and interdiction of this marijuana shipment,” said David J. Murphy, CBP director of field operations in Chicago. “I take great pride in knowing that we have a highly dedicated and committed group of CBP officers assigned to the UPS facility disrupting the flow of illicit narcotics into our country.”

CBP officers and agriculture specialists are stationed at express consignment facilities throughout the country conducting enforcement operations on international parcels. All shipments coming into these locations are screened through radiation portals to ensure that radioactive materials do not enter this country.

At the UPS facility in Louisville, CBP processes over 40,000 parcels per night and interdicts a variety of contraband and prohibited merchandise including counterfeit checks, illegal drugs, illegal monetary instruments, fraudulent documents, and shipments of intellectual property rights violations.


FAA Awards $2 Million Environmental Grant To San Diego International Airport

Federa Aviation Administration / www.faa.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded a $2 million grant to San Diego International Airport to reduce the use of conventional fuels at the airport to improve air quality.

“We are committed to helping airports around the country make the necessary infrastructure investments that will reduce fuel costs and help protect the environment,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The grant through the FAA’s Voluntary Airport Low Emission (VALE) program is part of a major airport improvement project at San DiegoInternational Airport called “The Green Build.” The grant will enable the airport to install a land-side power unit and pre-conditioned air unit at each of 10 new aircraft gates, as well as seven air units at existing gates. The units will allow aircraft arriving at the gates to shut off their auxiliary power units and connect to a cleaner central heating and cooling system, saving fuel and reducing aircraft emissions on the ground.

“The FAA encourages airlines and airports to find creative ways to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “We applaud all ofSan Diego’s efforts to make the airport an environmentally conscious member of the community.”

In fiscal year 2011, the FAA provided VALE grants for 12 low-emission projects at 11 airports. Since 2005, the FAA has funded 52 low-emission projects at 30 airports, representing a total investment of $140 million ($110 million in federal grants and $30 million in local airport matching funds) in clean airport technology. Through VALE, airports are reducing ozone emissions by approximately 400 tons per year – the equivalent of removing 17,650 cars and trucks off the road annually.


DOT Fines Orbitz for Violating Price Advertising Rules

Department of Transportation / www.dot.gov

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today fined the online ticket agent Orbitz $60,000 for violating federal aviation laws and the Department’s rules prohibiting deceptive price advertising in air travel.

“Consumers have a right to know the full price they will be paying for air fares,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We established airline price advertising rules to protect the consumer and will take enforcement action when these rules are violated.”

For a period of time in early 2011, Orbitz’s homepage displayed advertisements that did not provide any information on additional taxes and fees. Consumers clicking on an advertisement were not notified of the additional charges until after they arrived at the following page and scrolled down to the bottom of the page, where information in fine print about the taxes and fees could be found. Also, consumers selecting discounted fares advertised by Orbitz found that these fares were no longer available, and they were instead taken to a page where a different fare was displayed.

Ortbitz’s website violated DOT rules requiring any advertising that includes a price for air transportation to state the full price to be paid by the consumer, including all carrier-imposed surcharges. The only exception currently allowed is government-imposed taxes and fees that are assessed on a per-passenger basis, such as passenger facility charges, which may be stated separately from the advertised fare but must be clearly disclosed in the advertisement so that passengers can easily determine the full price they must pay. Internet fare listings may disclose these separate taxes and fees through a prominent link next to the fare stating that government taxes and fees are extra, and the link must take the viewer directly to information where the type and amount of taxes and fees are displayed. In addition, a reasonable number of seats must be available at the advertised fare for the period the fare is being offered. The rules apply to ticket agents as well as airlines.

Under DOT’s recently adopted consumer rule that enhances protections for air travelers, carriers and ticket agents will be required, among other things, to include all government taxes and fees in every advertised fare beginning Jan. 24, 2012.

The consent order it available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2011-0003


Crack Down on PuppyMills

Humane Society of the United States / www.humanesociety.org

To prevent the suffering of dogs and puppies in puppy mills, will the President act to close the current regulatory loophole and require large-scale, commercial breeders who sell puppies online and directly to the public to be covered by USDA’s Animal Welfare Act regulations, including minimum standards for humane care and treatment? This will help to protect consumers from unknowingly buying sick puppies from inhumane facilities and help to eliminate the horrible conditions in large-scale puppy mills.

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