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European Union to Assess Increased Duties on Imports of Certain U.S. Products on May 1st
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP  (Arthur W. Bodek) / www.gdlsk.com

The European Union (“EU”) has announced that it will impose an additional 26% ad valorem import duty on certain products of U.S. origin, effective May 1, 2013, as part of its ongoing dispute with the United States over the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act (“CDSOA”, also commonly referred to as “the Byrd Amendment”).[1]

The scope of the goods covered by this announcement are defined in terms of EU tariff numbers: 

  • 0710 40 00 (Frozen Vegetables: Sweetcorn)
  • 9003 19 30 (Frames and mountings for spectacles, goggles or the like, not of plastic)
  • 8705 10 00 (Special purpose motor vehicles, other than those principally designed for the transport of persons or goods: Crane lorries)
  • 6204 62 31 (Women’s woven cotton trousers, of denim)

To be subject to this action, goods have to both be of U.S. origin and classifiable within one of the above tariff provisions. 

The EU has provided for two limited exceptions (both of which only apply to goods classifiable within 6204 62 31):

1.     Products for which an import license exempting payment of such duty was issued before April 17, 2013; and,

2.     Products for which it can be demonstrated that they are already en route to the EU or in temporary storage, a free zone or free warehouse (as defined under EU law) on May 1, 2013. 

If you have any questions regarding this EU announcement or if we can be of assistance in exploring strategies to address its impact, please do not hesitate to contact us.


[1] Under the Byrd Amendment, the United States distributed additional duties collected in antidumping duty cases to domestic interests that supported such cases (as opposed to directing such funds to the government’s coffers).  This practice has been found by the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) to be inconsistent with U.S. international trade obligations, thereby allowing aggrieved trading partners (including the EU) to impose additional duties on U.S. imports in an amount intended to offset such harm.  Although the law has been repealed, significant residual amounts are still being distributed by the United States, in contravention of the WTO decision.


USITC Releases Report on Likely Effects on Duty-Free Entry for Goods Under the GSP
U.S. International Trade Commission / http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2013/er0425ll2.htm?source=govdelivery

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) today released a public version of its confidential report on the probable economic effects of making certain products eligible for duty- free treatment and for waiving the competitive need limit for certain goods under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The report, Advice Concerning Possible Modifications to the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, 2012 Review: Additions and Competitive Need Limitation Waivers, was requested by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

The USITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, submitted a confidential version of the report to the USTR on April 8, 2013.

As requested, the USITC provided advice as to the impact of the addition of certain products to the list of articles eligible for the GSP.

The reviewed products were: fresh cut sweetheart, spray, and other roses (HTS 0603.11.00, 0603.11.0010, 0603.11.0030, and 0603.11.0060); vegetables not elsewhere specific or included, uncooked or cooked by steaming or boiling in water, frozen, reduced in size (HTS 0710.80.97) or the 3 existing 10 digit lines for broccoli (HTS 0710.80.9722, 0710.80.9724, and 0710.80.9726); artichokes, prepared or preserved otherwise than by vinegar or acetic acid, and not frozen (HTS 2005.99.80); and refined copper wire less than 6 mm in diameter (HTS 7408.19.0030).

The USITC also provided advice, as requested, as to the effect on U.S. industries, imports, and consumers of granting a waiver of the competitive need limit for Brazil for imports of calcium silicon ferroalloys (HTS 7202.99.20).

"Competitive need limitations" (CNLs) set the maximum U.S. import level for GSP eligibility and are based on the dollar value or share of total imports of a given product. Once the limit is reached, trade is considered "competitive," benefits are no longer needed, and imports of the article become ineligible for GSP treatment, unless a waiver is granted.

The USTR published full article descriptions of a number of products for which CNL waiver petitions had been filed in the Federal Register (77FR249) on December 28, 2012. The USTR subsequently notified the USITC that petitions requesting CNL waivers for all but calcium-silicon imports from Brazil had been withdrawn, and the USITC revised the scope of its investigation accordingly.

Advice Concerning Possible Modifications to the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences, 2012 Review: Additions and Competitive Need Limitation Waivers (Investigation No. 332-538, USITC Publication 4391, April 2013) is available on the USITC's Internet site at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4391.pdf.

The report may be requested by sending an email to pubrequest@usitc.gov, by calling 202-205- 2000, or by writing the Office of the Secretary, U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436.

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 reports convey 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.


FTC Seeks Public Input on Proposed Changes to Textile Labeling Rules; FTC Closes Investigations of 3 Football Helmet Manufacturers;
FTC to Host Roundtable on Possible Changes to Jewelry Industry Marketing Guides

 Federal Trade Commission / http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/04/textiles.shtm

FTC Seeks Public Input on Proposed Changes to Textile Labeling Rules

The Federal Trade Commission is proposing changes to its Textile Labeling Rules, which require that certain textiles sold in the United States carry labels disclosing the generic names and percentages by weight of the fibers in the product, the manufacturer or marketer name, and the country where the product was processed or manufactured.  The Rules implement the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act.

In November 2012, the FTC sought public comment on the Rules as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides.  In response to the comments received, the FTC proposes changes designed to clarify and update the Rules, and make them more flexible, giving businesses more compliance options without imposing significant new obligations.  The FTC also seeks comment on the costs and benefits of the proposed changes.

The Commission vote to publish the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 4-0.  It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register soon.  Instructions for filing comments appear in the Federal Register Notice.  Comments must be received by July 8, 2013.  All comments received will be posted at www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm.  (FTC File No. P948404; the staff contact is Robert M. Frisby, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2098.)

FTC Closes Investigations of 3 Football Helmet Manufacturers
 
The staff of the Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigations of three companies that manufacture and sell football helmets:  Riddell Sports Group, Inc., Schutt Sports, Inc., and Xenith, LLC, all of which have removed or agreed to remove potentially deceptive claims about concussion prevention from their advertising.  (The media contact is Peter Kaplan, Office of Public Affairs, 202-326-2334.)

FTC to Host Roundtable on Possible Changes to Jewelry Industry Marketing Guides

The Federal Trade Commission will host a public roundtable on June 19, 2013, in Washington, DC, to examine possible changes to the agency’s Jewelry Guides.

In July 2012, the FTC sought public comment on the overall costs, benefits, necessity, and impact of, as well as possible modifications to, the Guides as part of its systematic review of all current FTC rules and guides.  To address comments received, the FTC will host a roundtable to discuss the marketing of alloy products containing precious metals in amounts below the Guides’ minimum thresholds, and surface applications of precious metals.
           
The Guides (formally, the “Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries”) explain to businesses how to avoid making deceptive claims about precious metal, pewter, diamond, gemstone, and pearl products, and how to make appropriate disclosures.  The FTC completed its last comprehensive review of the Guides in 1996, and has modified them four times since.

The roundtable will be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the FTC’s Satellite Building Conference Center, 601 New Jersey Avenue, NW; with registration beginning at 8 a.m.  It is free and open to the public.  Pre-registration is not required but is encouraged to help staff plan the event.  To pre-register, please email your name and affiliation to lkoss@ftc.gov.   Before the roundtable, the FTC will publish an agenda and more information on its website. 

The Commission invites additional comments regarding specific questions to be addressed at the roundtable, as outlined in a Federal Register Notice. Interested parties may file those comments online or on paper by June 5, 2013.  Write “Jewelry Guides Roundtable, 16 CFR Part 23, Project No. G711001” on your comment, and file your comment online by following the instructions on the web-based form.  To file your comment on paper, mail or deliver it to Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-113 (Annex O), 600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20580.  All comments received will be posted at www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  If you need an accommodation related to a disability, please contact Samantha Konstandt at skonstandt@ftc.gov or 202-326-3348.  Your request should include a detailed description of the accommodations you need and a way to contact you if we need more information.  Please provide advance notice.   (FTC File No. G711001; the staff contacts are Reenah Kim, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2272, and Laura D. Koss, Bureau of Consumer Protection, (202) 326-2890.)

The Commission vote to publish a notice in the Federal Register was 4-0.


Norfolk CBP Intercepts First in Nation Pest
  U.S. Customs & Border Protection / http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/local/04292013_4.xml

Washington — U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists at the Port of Norfolk have made a first in the nation pest interception of the moth Autophila ligaminosa.

On March 17, a U.S. military cargo flight arrived at Naval Station Norfolk from Afghanistan carrying military cargo. During the inspection, a single adult Lepidoptera was intercepted from a cargo container. The CBP agricultural specialist submitted the specimen to a Plant Protection Quarantine Entomologist, who identified the pest as Autophila ligaminosa (an overwintering adult male) a member of the Noctuidae family. This species is typically found from the Near East and Middle East to south-eastern Russia, including the Balkans, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.  

The crew and passengers exited the aircraft and the hatch was closed. The shipment was treated prior to release. While this particular interception was a male and could not lay eggs, moth larvae are especially harmful as they feed off of the leaves of plants and trees and could have disastrous results if introduced into a new environment.

“Protecting America’s agriculture industry is an enormous responsibility and Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists take their job very seriously. Pest interceptions, such as this one, emphasize the importance of their efforts,” said Mark Laria CBP Field Operations area port director in Norfolk. “First-in-Nation pest discoveries are particularly noteworthy because it provides a real sample for future identification efforts and provides a glimpse into possible pathways to the U.S.”

CBP Field Operations agriculture specialists protect the United States from the threat of invasive pests and diseases through inspection, detection, and prevention efforts designed to keep prohibited agricultural items from entering the country.


Houston HSI Seizes 10 Domain Names Selling Counterfeit Cycling Products - More than $90,000 also Seized from PayPal Accounts Associated with the Seized Websites
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) / http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1304/130429houston.htm

HOUSTON – Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) on Friday seized 10 Internet domain names that were illegally selling counterfeit cycling equipment and apparel globally.

The 10 seized domain names are a continuation of "Operation In Our Sites" (IOS), an HSI sustained law enforcement initiative that began in 2010. These seized domain names are now in the custody of the U.S. government. Visitors typing those domain names into their web browsers will now find a banner that notifies them of the seizure and educates them about the federal crime of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Houston HSI special agents worked closely with companies that manufacture cycling products to include Specialized, INVISTA (owners of the COOLMAX® and LYCRA® brands), along with PayPal and the U.S. Attorney's Office. This enforcement action was planned against a number of websites that were selling counterfeit high-end carbon bike frames, apparel and cycling shoes. These counterfeit items were targeted towards cyclists of all levels who shop online. During the latter part of the investigation, other cycling manufacturers including SRAM, Cervelo and Pinarello, also provided assistance in identifying counterfeit vendors targeting their brands.

"The seizure of these domain names is an important tool in HSI's continuing efforts to protect the consumer from sub-par and dangerous goods," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "HSI special agents are also committed to protecting the rights of businesses that play by the rules so that they can remain competitive and support our economy."

The seized website domains infringed upon the trademark owners' rights by providing access to counterfeit merchandise that could potentially damage a company's reputation. Bike enthusiasts purchasing what they think is brand-name merchandise may experience problems such as badly fitting apparel or counterfeit bike carbon frames that could cause serious injury since they are unsafe to ride. Sales of counterfeit items threaten American jobs nationwide, especially in the bike shop network.

"Our engineers have tested counterfeit frames in our lab and frankly they don't hold up. They failed our impact and fatigue tests and the aluminum head tube cups de-bonded, making steering vague and loose – that is simply not safe," says Andrew Love, head of brand security at Specialized. "The counterfeiters just want to make a sale; they have zero interest in the customer. Our product integrity and rider safety are very personal for us."

In addition to the domain name seizures, officials identified PayPal accounts used by the infringing websites. Proceeds received through the identified PayPal accounts, in excess of $90,000, is currently being targeted for seizure by Houston HSI.

"In an effort to provide safe and trusted payments and commerce platforms for our customers, PayPal is proud to partner with law enforcement and rights owners globally in the fight against the illegal online trafficking of counterfeit goods," said Tod Cohen, vice president of government relations, eBay Inc.

This operation was spearheaded by the National IPR Center in coordination with Houston HSI. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21-member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters.

For more information, visit: www.iprcenter.gov or call 1-866-IPR-2060.


FDRA Announces AFA, A Bill to Cut Footwear Duties, Reintroduced in the US House
Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America / http://www.joc.com/regulation-policy/trade-policy/united-states-trade-policy/retailers-praise-affordable-footwear-act_20130426.html

Read article


DOT Fines Southwest Over Late, Incomplete Responses to Consumer Complaints

U.S. Department of Transportation / http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/dot-fines-southwest-over-late-incomplete-responses-consumer-complaints

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for not responding in a timely manner to complaints filed by consumers, including passengers with disabilities, and for not adequately responding to the passengers’ specific complaints in its responses.  The airline was ordered to cease and desist from further violations and assessed a civil penalty of $150,000. 

“When airlines receive complaints from passengers, we expect them to provide prompt responses that appropriately answer the specific complaints,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is an important part of our work protecting the rights of passengers, and we will continue to take enforcement action when necessary.”

The Department’s Aviation Enforcement Office found that Southwest failed to respond in a timely manner to a large number of disability-related and other consumer complaints it received from June 2011 through January 2012 because of a problem with its website.  When it responded most were sent late.  The responses also failed to contain information specifically required by DOT rules
 
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