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Lawmakers Ask USITC to Identify Imported Products Needed for COVID-19 Response and Related Tariff and Trade Information - US International Trade Commission

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today instituted an investigation that will identify imported products that may be needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide trade-related information for them, including their source countries, tariff classifications, and applicable rates of duty.

The investigation, COVID-19 Related Goods: U.S. Imports and Tariffs, was requested by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means and the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance in a letter received on April 7, 2020.

In their request letter, the Committees noted: “On March 20, 2020, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) established a process to receive and consider comments for provisional modifications to tariffs imposed on goods that may assist in the public health and clinical response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In view of the Commission’s knowledge in trade and tariff matters, we ask that the Commission provide a report to the Committees and the USTR that identifies imported goods related to the response to COVID-19, their source countries, tariff classifications, and applicable rates of duty so as to assist the Committees and USTR in proposing or taking appropriate and responsive actions.”

As requested, the USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, will provide the following information for each product it identifies:

  • the 10-digit HTS code for the article;
  • its legal description;
  • general duty rate;
  • any special or additional rates of duty imposed on the article, and the dates on which the rates were imposed, and the authorities under which they were imposed;
  • whether any such duties have been suspended and, if so, the date of suspension as well how the long suspension is scheduled to last;
  • the total rate of duty imposed on such article, including any special or additional rate of duty; and
  • the major countries of origin for each such article, and the import value of each such article from each country for the years 2017-2019.

As requested, to the extent practical, the USITC will provide the electronic version of the report in a format that allows the information to be sorted by the fields listed above.  It will also include a “plain English” description or examples of products that fall within the identified HTS codes and citations to sources consulted in identifying the products.

The USITC expects to deliver its report to the Committees and the U.S. Trade Representative by April 30, 2020.  The USITC will provide updated data runs on its website through June 30, 2020, as requested.

Further information about the investigation can be found in the notice of investigation, dated April 13, 2020, which can be obtained from the USITC Internet site (www.usitc.gov).

USITC general factfinding investigations, such as this one, cover matters related to tariffs or trade and are generally conducted at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the House Committee on Ways and Means, or the Senate Committee on Finance. The resulting report conveys the Commission’s objective findings and independent analyses on the subjects investigated. The Commission makes no recommendations on policy or other matters in its general factfinding reports. Upon completion of each investigation, the USITC submits its findings and analyses to the requester. General factfinding investigation reports are subsequently released to the public, unless they are classified by the requester for national security reasons.

 



 

Federal Register Notices:







Detroit CBP Moves Vital Supplies Through its Ports - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Processed thousands of returning citizens and cargo shipments

DETROIT - U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) at Detroit Metro Airport has processed over six thousand two hundred passengers with returning U.S. citizens, legal residents and other essential travelers since March 21. CBP is also working around the clock at our land borders in Detroit, Port Huron and Sault Ste Marie to move vital commercial trade during the same time frame, facilitating the movement of over 75 thousand trucks since the non-essential travel restrictions went into effect.

As it is widely known, CBP has limited cross border activity to essential travel only. Even during this restriction, CBP officers in the Detroit Field Office continues to facilitate the travel of those essential workers in the medical field and other critical occupations as well. CBP has processed more than 150 commercial shipments carrying vital COVID-19 related supplies through our ports, ensuring that critical personal protection equipment that saves lives and protect our medical professionals makes it way to its destination.

“Approximately 35% of all trade between Canada and the United States flows through Michigan, and with Port Huron being the fourth busiest and Detroit being the second busiest commercial trade crossing in the United States”, says Christopher Perry, Director of Field Operations. “We know first-hand how important the global supply chain is to the economic security of this country, and to the ongoing fight we face against this virus.”

CBP here in Michigan, continues to safeguard America’s borders and protect the public from the Coronavirus, as well as other dangerous people and materials, while simultaneously enhancing the Nation’s economic competitiveness by enabling legitimate trade and travel. 

 





CBP Gulfport Finds 2 First in Mississippi Pests - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Beetles were discovered in fruit shipments

GULFPORT, MS – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists working at the Port of Gulfport made two first-in-Mississippi pest discoveries in fruit shipments during the month of March.

The first discovery was identified as a Cholus sp (Curculionidae), a weevil species that prohibited in the United States because of the damage it can cause to forests and trees. The pest was discovered March 9 when a shipment of fresh pineapples was referred to agriculture for inspection. Upon inspection, CBP agriculture specialists discovered the pest and submitted it for identification to a U.S. Department of Agriculture entomologist, who confirmed it as Cholus sp (Curculionidae), commonly known as snout weevils. The family Curculionidae is a large family of about 3,000 species found in North America, including snout beetles and true weevils. Although the species vary in size and shape, they are characterized by distinctively long snouts with antennae rising from the middle of the snout. These plant feeders are in the subfamily Molytinae, of which most members are moderate in size and dark-colored.  

The second pest was discovered March 30 in a shipment of fresh bananas, and was identified as a Scarabaeidae Beetle, or Stenocrates bicarinatus Robinson. There are more than 30,000 species of scarabs, often found in Costa Rica. They are stout-bodied beetles, many with bright metallic colors, measuring between 1.5 and 160 mm. Their larvae, called grubs, are C-shaped and are pale yellow or white. The grubs mostly live underground or under debris, so are not exposed to sunlight. Many scarabs are scavengers that recycle dung, carrion, or decaying plant material.  Others, such as the Japanese beetle, are plant-eaters.

“To find an insect this small in such a large shipment not one, but twice, speaks to the dedication and professionalism of our agriculture specialists here in Gulfport,” said Gulfport Port Director Rodolfo Chacon. “I’m proud of the great work they do each day to protect the nation’s agriculture.”

The Cholus cp was first discovered in the United States in a shipment of corn that was seized by CBP agriculture specialists in Brownville, Texas. Since then, it has been intercepted at ports in Miami, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. The Scarabaeidae Beetle has previously been discovered in Philadelphia and Miami.

On a typical day in fiscal year 2019, CBP agriculture specialists discovered 314 pests at U.S. ports of entry and 4,695 plant, meat, animal byproduct, and soil materials for quarantine. The Port of Gulfport is assigned to CBP’s New Orleans Office of Field, which includes ports in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama.

 





CBP Officers in El Paso Seize Non-FDA Compliant Thermometers - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

EL PASO, Texas – Health related products are presented daily for import, it is U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission to ensure only those that meet federal safety requirements enter the American commerce.

An important part of the CBP mission remains the facilitation of legitimate trade. In addition to its own regulations, CBP enforces over 400 laws on behalf of over 40 other U.S. Government agencies. A large number of these import restrictions and requirements are designed to protect the American people from dangerous and illegal goods. 

CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas commercial import facility at the El Paso port of entry inspected items in a shipment that were manifested as pyrometers (infrared forehead thermometers) with a value of over $7,000.  The thermometers were found to be non-compliant with Food and Drug Administration regulations. 

“As part of trade enforcement and compliance, officers are constantly on the lookout for counterfeit and non-compliant products,” said CBP El Paso Director of Field Operations Hector Mancha. “These thermometers may not measure body temperature accurately and could give false readings; this could have serious consequences.” 

The shipment was seized pending further investigation.

CBP COVID-19 response images/video: 

DVIDS: https://dvidshub.net/r/dkexr7 

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cbpphotos/collections/72157713716518058/ 

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/customsborderprotect

 



 

Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission Jointly Issue Statement on COVID-19 and Competition in U.S. Labor Markets - U.S. Department of Justice

Antitrust Enforcers Closely Monitoring Employer Collusion to Disadvantage Workers

The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Bureau of Competition jointly released a statement today affirming the importance of competition for American workers.  The agencies also announced that they will protect competition for workers on the frontlines of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) response in the United States by enforcing the antitrust laws against those who seek to exploit the pandemic to engage in anticompetitive conduct in labor markets.

The agencies acknowledged that some cooperation between government, business, and individual actors may be necessary in order to protect the health and safety of Americans.  At the same time, the agencies informed the public that they are on alert for employers, staffing companies, and recruiters who might engage in collusion or other anticompetitive conduct that harms workers.  Examples of such conduct include agreements to suppress or eliminate competition with respect to compensation, benefits, hours worked, and other terms of employment, as well as the hiring, soliciting, recruiting, or retention of workers.

“The Antitrust Division will not tolerate companies and individuals who use COVID-19 to harm competition that cheats payroll and non-payroll workers,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “This includes doctors, nurses, first responders, and those who work in grocery stores, pharmacies, delivery and distribution networks, and warehouses, among other essential service providers on the front lines of addressing the crisis.  Even in times of crisis, we choose a policy of competition over collusion.  The division will use its enforcement authority to ensure that companies and individuals who distort the free market for labor are held to account.”

“Many American workers are under a tremendous amount of stress because of COVID-19, and that includes essential workers and first responders,” said FTC Chairman Joe Simons.  “We will not stand for any collusion among employers that would deprive workers of competitive compensation for their hard work.”

For years, the division and the FTC’s Bureau of Competition have challenged unlawful wage-fixing and no-poach agreements, anticompetitive non-compete agreements, and the unlawful exchange of competitively sensitive employee information, including salary, wages, benefits, and compensation data.  Companies and individuals who enter into naked wage-fixing and no-poach agreements may be criminally prosecuted by the division, and those that invite collusion may be subject to civil enforcement by the bureau, even absent a collusive agreement, the statement further notes.  The agencies may also use their civil enforcement authority to challenge unilateral anticompetitive conduct by employers that harms competition in a labor market.  Companies and individuals involved in the hiring, recruiting, retention, or placement of workers should be aware that anticompetitive conduct runs the risk of civil and/or criminal liability.

The division recognizes that protecting American consumers during the COVID-19 event may require significant cooperation between federal, state, local, and tribal governments, private businesses, and individuals.

To that end, the division and the FTC previously released guidance that compiles additional and existing information and resources that can provide those responding to COVID-19 with a general understanding of how the agencies enforce the antitrust laws on joint conduct.  At the same time, the agencies remain vigilant about detecting and stopping anticompetitive conduct in labor markets.  Therefore, the division, along with the rest of the department, will continue working closely with other federal agencies, including our partners at the FBI, the FTC, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services, to assist its efforts.

The division established the Procurement Collusion Strike Force, an interagency partnership created to combat antitrust crimes and related schemes affecting procurement, grant, and program funding.  The Strike Force is on high alert for collusive practices in the sale of COVID-19-related products to federal, state, and local agencies.

If you have information concerning harm to competition in a labor market, please email the division’s Citizen Complaint Center at antitrust.complaints@usdoj.gov and the bureau’s complaint center at antitrust@ftc.gov.

Beyond labor competition matters, anyone with information or concerns about actions by individuals and businesses to take advantage of COVID-19 through other fraudulent and illegal schemes, or other COVID-19-related complaints, should contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or e-mail disaster@leo.gov
 
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