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Russia Sanctions Update - Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP
Following the two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the recent death of Aleksey Navalny, on February 23, 2024, the Administration announced a new round of export sanctions on Russia.
The new measures include blocking restrictions on over 500 entities and individuals. These restrictions prohibit U.S. persons from transacting business with these parties or with entities that are owned (50% or more) by a listed party. This brings the total number of Russian parties that the United States has sanctioned since 2022 to over 2,000.
In addition to Russia’s military sector, the newly sanctioned entities cover a wide range of industries, including the following: additive manufacturers, machine tools, metalworking, lubricants, coolants, industrial chemicals, electronics, optics, navigation, diamonds, and logistics. Also sanctioned are a number of companies located outside of Russia that the United States has determined to be involved with sanctions evasion and circumvention.
The new sanctions highlight the importance of due diligence and party screening for companies that are engaged in trade with Russia. Should you have any questions regarding these developments or if you require assistance with Russia sanctions compliance, please contact Joseph M. Spraragen or any of our attorneys.
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Federal Register Notices:
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Circular Welded Carbon Steel Standard Pipe and Tube Products From the Republic of Turkey; Welded Line Pipe From the Republic of Turkey; Certain Oil Tubular Goods From the Republic of Turkey; and Large Diameter Welded Pipe From the Republic of Turkey: Notice of Initiation of Antidumping Duty and Countervailing Duty Changed Circumstances Reviews
• Antidumping Duty Order on Polyethylene Terephthalate Film, Sheet, and Strip From India: Preliminary Results of Changed Circumstances Review
• Certain Quartz Surface Products From the People's Republic of China: Expansion of the Period of Review and Supplemental Opportunity To Request Administrative Review
• Sales at Less Than Fair Value; Determinations, Investigations, etc.: Certain Paper Plates From the People's Republic of China, Thailand, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Video Processing Devices and Products Containing Same; Notice of Request for Submissions on the Public Interest
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Metal Lockers and Parts Thereof From the People's Republic of China: Initiation and Preliminary Results of Changed Circumstances Reviews, and Intent To Revoke the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders, in Part
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Multilayered Wood Flooring From the People's Republic of China: Notice of Court Decision Not in Harmony With the Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; Notice of Amended Final Results
• Certain Steel Nails From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Determination of No Shipments; 2021-2022
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc. Stainless Steel Bar From India
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Tin Mill Products From Canada, China, Germany, and South Korea; Determinations
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products From the Republic of Korea: Final Results and Partial Rescission of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2021
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Advance Notification of Sunset Reviews
• Aluminum Lithographic Printing Plates From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination, and Alignment of Final Determination With Final Antidumping Duty Determination
• Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Order, Finding, or Suspended Investigation; Opportunity To Request Administrative Review and Join Annual Inquiry Service List
• Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Glass Wine Bottles From Chile, China, and Mexico; Correction Notice of Determinations
• Certain Pasta From Italy and Turkey; Institution of Five-Year Reviews
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Biden-Harris Administration invests $3B into clean ports as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
WASHINGTON — Today, Feb. 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the launch of the $3 billion Clean Ports Program to fund zero-emission port equipment and infrastructure to tackle the climate crisis and improve air quality at U.S. ports as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The funding opportunities were created under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act — the largest climate investment in history — and will advance environmental justice by reducing diesel pollution from U.S. ports in surrounding communities, while creating good-paying jobs. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan made this announcement at an event in Wilmington, North Carolina with Governor Roy Cooper today as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America tour.
“Our nation’s ports are among the busiest in the world, helping us to create good jobs here in America, move goods, and grow our economy,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Today’s historic funding announcement reflects President Biden’s vision of growing our economy while ensuring America leads in creating globally competitive solutions of the future. Today we’re making $3 billion available to install cleaner and more efficient technologies while cutting air pollution to protect the people who work at and live near ports.”
“Our country’s ports feed our supply chains to put food on our tables, keep our businesses running and provide for our everyday needs,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “We are deeply grateful to the Biden Administration for the investments that have helped fix our supply chain, rebuild our infrastructure and create thousands of good paying clean energy jobs.”
“Communities living near America’s ports have borne the brunt of some of the worst air pollution coming from shipping, trucking, and maritime industries,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy. “Today’s historic announcement from EPA is an investment in a cleaner, healthier future for those communities.”
“President Biden and Vice President Harris believe every person deserves clean air, clean water, and a healthy environment. Communities near our nation’s ports are disproportionately impacted by air pollution and other environmental hazards, and this funding will help reduce emissions while creating good-paying jobs as we transition to a clean energy future,” said White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “Today’s announcement will help ensure families who live, work, and play near our ports have cleaner air to breathe and a healthier environment as we work to advance the President’s ambitious environmental justice agenda.”
“For decades, ports have been hubs of pollution — but thanks to President Biden, we are turning them into hubs of American innovation,” said Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi. “There’s an incredible array of new technologies that can make ports cleaner and greener, all while creating good-paying jobs and strengthening American supply chains. The Clean Ports Program is demonstrating how these technologies can work together to deliver clean air for our children, cut down on harmful climate pollution, and achieve fully zero-emission operations. That’s a gamechanger for port communities, for workers, and for America’s economy. That’s environmental justice – long overdue.”
The Clean Ports Program will help advance the President’s commitment to environmental justice and the Justice40 Initiative, which sets the goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments in climate, clean energy, and other areas flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. In addition to these efforts, EPA strived to ensure that near-port community engagement and equity considerations are at the forefront of our program design, including by evaluating applications on the extent and quality of community engagement efforts.
The Clean Ports Program is designed to help ports across the country transition to fully zero-emissions operations — serving as a catalyst for transformational change across the freight sector. To achieve this, EPA is releasing two separate Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) as part of the $3 billion. The nearly $2.8 billion Zero-Emission Technology Deployment Competition will directly fund zero-emission port equipment and infrastructure to reduce mobile source emissions at U.S. ports. Eligible uses of funding include human-operated and maintained zero-emission cargo handling equipment, harbor craft and other vessels, electric charging and hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and a number of other technology investments. Applications under this competition will be evaluated under multiple tiers in order to ensure that funds are distributed across ports of different sizes and types, and to ensure funding for ports serving Tribal communities.
Read further.
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FMC Updates Controlled Carrier List - Federal Maritime Commission
Hede (HONGKONG) International Shipping Limited was classified today by the Federal Maritime Commission as a controlled carrier of the Government of the People’s Republic of China and added to the agency’s Controlled Carrier List.
The Controlled Carrier List was further revised today by removing COSCO Shipping Lines (Europe) GmbH, which has ceased serving the U.S. trades and has cancelled its tariff. Other COSCO entities remain on the list.
Controlled Carriers are ocean common carriers operating in the U.S.-foreign trades that are, or whose operating assets are, directly or indirectly owned or controlled by a foreign government. Controlled Carriers are subject to enhanced regulatory oversight by the Commission.
Hede (HONGKONG) International Shipping Limited began offering service to the United States in late 2023. Prior to that time, its operations had been limited to the intra-Asia trades.
The Controlled Carrier List is not a comprehensive list of all foreign-owned, foreign-controlled, or government linked companies and assets. It is a list of companies meeting statutory requirements found at 46 U.S.C. Chapter 407. Commission regulations related to Controlled Carriers are found at 46 C.F.R. 565.
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FMC Publishes Final Rule on Detention and Demurrage Billing Practices - Federal Maritime Commission
A Final Rule issued today by the Federal Maritime Commission establishes new requirements for how common carriers and marine terminal operators (MTOs) must bill for demurrage and detention charges, providing clarity on who can be billed, within what timeframe, and the process for disputing bills.
A key provision of this rule determines that demurrage or detention invoices can only be issued to either: (1) the person for whose account the billing party provide ocean transportation or storage of cargo and who contracted with the billing party for the ocean transportation or storage of cargo; or (2) the “consignee,” defined as “the ultimate recipient of the cargo; the person to whom final delivery of the cargo is to be made”. Demurrage and detention bills cannot be issued to multiple parties simultaneously.
The rule also requires vessel-operating-common carriers (VOCCs) and MTOs to issue detention and demurrage invoices within 30 calendar days from when charges were last incurred. Non-vessel-operating common carriers must issue demurrage and detention invoices within 30 calendar days from the issuance date of the invoice they received.
Billed parties have at least 30 calendar days to make fee mitigation, refund, or waiver requests. If a timely filed request is made, the billing party must attempt to resolve the matter within 30 calendar days, unless both parties agree to a longer timeframe.
The new rule will advance the Commission’s goal of promoting supply chain fluidity by ensuring a clear connection between the failure to pick-up cargo or return equipment in a timely manner and the appropriate fee. The rule ensures that billed parties understand the demurrage or detention invoices they receive by requiring certain identifiable information be included by the billing party on the invoice. Failing to include any of the required information in a detention or demurrage invoice eliminates any obligation of the billed party to pay the applicable charge. Of course, if an invoice does comply, a charged party does have an obligation to pay charges billed. The new rule will provide relief to parties who should never have received a bill for detention or demurrage.
Most of the rule takes effect on May 26, 2024. The “Contents of Invoice” section 541.6 involves information collection and must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. The Commission will announce the effective date of section 541.6 once approved.
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USITC Makes Determination in Five-Year (Sunset) Review Concerning Tapered Roller Bearings from China - U.S. International Trade Commission
The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that revoking the existing antidumping duty order on tapered roller bearings from China would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of material injury within a reasonably foreseeable time.
As a result of the Commission’s affirmative determination, the existing order on imports of this product from China will remain in place.
Chairman David S. Johanson and Commissioners Rhonda K. Schmidtlein and Jason E. Kearns voted in the affirmative. Commissioner Amy A. Karpel did not participate.
Today’s action comes under the five-year (sunset) review process required by the Uruguay Round Agreements Act. See the attached page for background on this five-year (sunset) review.
The Commission’s public report Tapered Roller Bearings from China (Inv. No. 731-TA-344 (Fifth Review), USITC Publication 5497, March 2024) will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the review.
The report will be available by March 28, 2024; when available, it may be accessed on the USITC website at: https://www.usitc.gov/commission_publications_library.
BACKGROUND
The Uruguay Round Agreements Act requires the Department of Commerce to revoke an antidumping or countervailing duty order, or terminate a suspension agreement, after five years unless the Department of Commerce and the USITC determine that revoking the order or terminating the suspension agreement would be likely to lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping or subsidies (Commerce) and of material injury (USITC) within a reasonably foreseeable time.
The Commission’s institution notices in five-year reviews requests that interested parties file responses with the Commission concerning the likely effects of revoking the order under review as well as other information. Generally, within 95 days from institution, the Commission will determine whether the responses it has received reflect an adequate or inadequate level of interest in a full review. If responses to the USITC’s notice of institution are adequate, or if other circumstances warrant a full review, the Commission conducts a full review, which includes a public hearing and issuance of questionnaires.
The Commission generally does not hold a hearing or conduct further investigative activities in expedited reviews. Commissioners base their injury determination in expedited reviews on the facts available, including the Commission’s prior injury and review determinations, responses received to its notice of institution, data collected by staff in connection with the reviews, and information provided by the Department of Commerce.
This five-year (sunset) review concerning Tapered Roller Bearings from China was instituted on September 1, 2023.
On December 5, 2023, the Commission voted to conduct an expedited review. Chairman David S. Johanson and Commissioners Rhonda K. Schmidtlein and Jason E. Kearns concluded that the domestic interested party group response was adequate, and the respondent interested party group response was inadequate and voted for an expedited review. Commissioner Amy A. Karpel did not participate.
A record of the Commission’s vote to conduct an expedited review is available from the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may be made by telephone by calling 202-205-1802.
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Shipment of Limes Results in over $3 Million Worth of Cocaine - Department of Justice
OTAY MESA, Calif. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBP) at the Otay Mesa Commercial Facility discovered over $3 million worth of hard narcotics hidden in a shipment of limes on Thursday.
At approximately 11:22 a.m., CBP officers encountered a 42-year-old man driving a commercial tractor-trailer with a shipment manifested as Persian limes. The driver, a valid border crossing card holder, was referred for further examination by CBP officers along with the tractor-trailer and shipment.
In the secondary inspection area, a CBP K-9 unit screened the shipment and alerted officers to examine the trailer more closely.
Upon further examination, CBP officers discovered and extracted a total of 158 suspicious packages. The contents of the packages were tested and identified as cocaine with a weight of 435 pounds with an estimated street value of $3,355,800.
“Rain or shine are officers work tirelessly to ensure our communities are free of these dangerous drugs,” said Rosa Hernandez, Port Director for the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. “I’m proud of the efforts our officers make day in and day out.”
All subjects were turned over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations for further processing. The narcotics, semi-truck, and trailer were seized by CBP officers.
These seizures are part of Operation Apollo. Operation Apollo is a joint regional operation comprised of federal, state, and local agencies working to combat the threat from fentanyl, and other illicit synthetic narcotics. More information about Operation Apollo can be found here.
CBP officers at the border crossing in Southern California stop illegal activity while processing millions of legitimate travelers into the United States. Those statistics can be found here: CBP-enforcement-statistics.
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FTC Takes Action Against Tax Prep Company H&R Block for Wiping Consumers’ Data, Deceptively Marketing ‘Free’ Online Filing - Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is taking action against tax preparation company H&R Block for unfairly deleting consumers’ tax data and requiring them to contact customer service when they downgrade to more affordable online products, and deceptively marketing their products as “free” when they were not free for many consumers. These practices cost consumers time and money.
“H&R Block designed its online products to present an obstacle course of tedious challenges to consumers, pressuring them into overpaying for its products,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “Today’s action demonstrates that companies using coercive techniques that harm consumers can expect to hear from the FTC.”
In an administrative complaint, FTC staff alleges that H&R Block’s online tax filing products lead consumers into higher-cost products made for more complicated tax filings, despite many consumers not needing the additional tax forms and schedules offered by those products. In addition, H&R Block fails to clearly explain which of its products cover what forms, schedules, or tax situations, leading many consumers to start completing their tax returns in products that are more expensive than they need. When consumers later realized they did not need or want those more expensive products, though, H&R Block presented them with a series of time-consuming challenges when attempting to downgrade after already spending substantial time entering their tax information.
Specifically, when consumers choose to downgrade, H&R Block requires consumers to contact its customer support via chat or phone. Then, its system deletes all the tax data the consumers have entered, requiring them to start their tax return from scratch, creating a significant disincentive to downgrading. This stands in contrast to the upgrade process, where consumers’ data seamlessly moves to the more expensive product instantly.
Similarly, the complaint alleges that while consumers can upgrade without contacting H&R Block customer service, the opposite is true for the downgrade process. Since at least 2014, consumers attempting to downgrade have had to reach out to the company to request a downgrade – a process that has often been frustrating and time-consuming.
In addition to the company’s unfair practices regarding downgrades, the complaint also alleges the company has engaged in deceptive advertising for years, marketing its online tax preparation services as “free” when many consumers are not eligible to use the company’s free products.
The complaint outlines a number of advertisements by H&R Block on TV and online promoting that consumers can file for “free” with the company. The ads contain language saying—sometimes only in fine print—the “free” offer applies only to “simple returns.” The ads, however, do not explain what a “simple return” is, and the complaint notes that H&R Block has changed its definition of a “simple return” multiple time in recent years. According to the complaint, the company was aware of consumers’ frustration and confusion with these misleading advertisements.
The Commission vote to issue the administrative complaint was 3-0.
NOTE: The Commission issues an administrative complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated, and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The issuance of the administrative complaint marks the beginning of a proceeding in which the allegations will be tried in a formal hearing before an administrative law judge.
The staff attorneys on this matter are Claire Wack, Simon Barth, and Christopher E. Brown of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
 
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