Tag Archives: Trade Alert

Say Good-bye to NAFTA, and Hello to USMCA!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Say Good-bye to NAFTA, and Hello to USMCA!

Canada and the United States have officially reached an 11th-hour deal with Mexico to modernize the North American free trade agreement.

The new trilateral pact, now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – or USMCA won’t go into effect right away. Most of the key provisions don’t start until 2020 because leaders from the three countries have to sign it and then Congress and the legislatures in Canada and Mexico have to approve it, a process that could take several months.

What are some of the differences?

There is some substance, although nothing dramatic, as it turns out. New “Rules of Origin” will force automobile manufacturers to use more parts from the region – up 75% from 62.5%

A new wages condition states that a minimum input must be added in factories that pay workers at least $16 per hour, which may move some work from Mexico back to the U.S. Starting in 2020, cars and trucks should have at least 30% of the work on the vehicle done by workers earning $16 per hour in wages.

A new “sunset clause” states that USMCA will expire in 16 years, whereas NAFTA ran indefinitely.

Steel tariffs will remain in place for now. The U.S. and Canada continue to discuss lifting these tariffs but a senior White House official said on Sunday that this process is on a completely different track.

Other provisions include:

Canada opens up its dairy market to U.S. farmers.

Canada has complex set of milk and dairy rules to ensure that Canadian dairy farmers don’t go bankrupt, and the Canadian government restricts how much dairy can be produced and how much foreign dairy can enter to keep milk prices high. Canada will maintain most of its system but is giving greater market share to U.S. dairy farmers.

Chapter 19

Stays intact, which allows for a special dispute process. This allows the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to challenge one another’s anti-dumping and countervailing duties in front of a panel of representatives from each country.

Improved labor and environmental rights.

The USMCA makes some significant upgrades to environmental and labor regulations, especially regarding Mexico. Trucks from Mexico that cross the border into the U.S. must meet higher safety regulations and Mexican workers must have more ability to organize and form unions.

Increased intellectual property protections.

The New IP chapter contains more stringent protections for patents and trademarks for biotech, financial services and even domain names.

Chapter 11:

Giving investors a special way to fight government decisions is, for the most part, gone. The idea was that if investors put tons of money into a project the then the government changed the rules, a dispute process, outside the court system, was where investors could get their problem resolved.

For more information on USMCA click here: https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico

Section 301 Update: List 3 Takes Effect

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Section 301 Update: List 3 Takes Effect

Beginning September 24, an additional 10 percent tariff on goods from China will be imposed on 5,745 tariff lines, view list here with an import value of approximately $200 billion. As of January 1, 2019, this tariff is scheduled to increase to 25 percent.

According to the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) this list reflects the elimination of 297 subheadings that were originally announced. Goods such as consumer electronics, e.g., smart watches and Bluetooth devices, chemical inputs for manufactured goods, agricultural, and various health and safety products were removed from the proposed list.

Previously, the administration had announced List 1, imposing an additional 25 percent tariff on over 800 tariff lines valued at approximately $34 billion of goods from China, effective July 6, 2018. List 2 followed soon after with 25 percent tariffs levied upon 279 additional lines on $16 billion of goods from China that went into effect upon August 23.

With $267 billion more threatened, the reality of list 4 hovers.

Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act Signed Into Law

Monday, September 17, 2018

Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act Signed Into Law

Signed into law on September 13, 2018, the H.R. 4318 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) becomes effective upon October 13, 2018 following a 30-day grace period. The MTB reduces tariffs on nearly 1700 products deemed by the International Trade Commission (ITC) as unattainable or inaccessible from domestic productions or sourcing through December 31, 2020.

Designed to provide relief to some manufacturers, the MTB will temporarily amend the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) to modify certain rates of duty recommended by the ITC pursuant to the new process established in the American Manufacturing and Competitiveness Act of 2016. 

A majority of the products covered by the MTB are chemicals, and includes some textiles, apparel, footwear, machinery and equipment, as well as other goods.

If your goods are from China, be aware that the MTB tariff reductions do not override Section 301 tariffs, per CSMS #18-000493, dated August 21, 2018 as follows:


Products of China that are covered by the Section 301 remedy and that are eligible for special tariff treatment under general note 3(c)(i) to the tariff schedule, or that are eligible for temporary duty exemptions or reductions under subchapter II to chapter 99, shall be subject to the additional 25 percent ad valorem rate of duty imposed by headings 9903.88.01 and 9903.88.02.

Click on the link provided below for the list of goods. We recommend you review this list carefully to determine if any of the products may have an effect upon your imports and contact us with any questions.

Click Here

US-Mexico Preliminary Agreement in Principle on a New Trade Agreement

Thursday, August 30, 2018

US-Mexico Preliminary Agreement in Principle on a New Trade Agreement

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced on Monday August 27, 2018 that the United States and Mexico have reached a preliminary agreement in principle, subject to finalization and implementation.

Three fact sheets are available announcing the provisions.  The first sheet,  Modernizing NAFTA to be a 21st Century Trade Agreement, addresses the following:

  • Intellectual Property
  • Digital Trade
  • De Minimis
  • Financial Services
  • Labor
  • Environment


The second fact sheet, Rebalancing NAFTA to Support Manufacturing addresses:

  • Rules of Origin and Market Access
  • Textiles


The third fact sheet, Strengthening NAFTA for Agriculture maintains among other measures, a duty-free treatment on agricultural products. 


Canada was not part of these negotiations although the Canadian Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington, D.C. to begin discussions with US trade representatives.  It is believed that if NAFTA does terminate, economic relations between the US and Canada would revert to the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement (CUSFTA) implemented on January 1, 1989.  It is to be noted however that a debate exists whether this trade agreement would automatically be in effect if NAFTA is terminated without an act of Congress to re-implement CUSFTA.


Monday, August 12, 02018


Another Presidential Proclamation has been signed stating that steel articles covered by Section 232  from the Republic of Turkey (Turkey) will be subject to an increased ad valorem duty rate of 50%.

The increased rates of duty on steel articles that are the product of Turkey are effective with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on August 13, 2018. 

For more information, please see CSMS 18-000477 

Notice of Adjustment of the Merchandise Processing Fee in 2019

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Notice of Adjustment of the Merchandise Processing Fee in 2019

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for fiscal year 2019 will adjust and increase various user fees. Of particular note is the increase in the Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF).

The increase in MPF is reflected below:

Minimum – $26.22 up from 25.67
Maximum – $508.70 up from 497.99
Informal – $2.10 up from 2.05

The rate of 0.3464% remains unchanged

The Federal Register Notice published today states the adjusted amounts of customs COBRA user fees and their corresponding limitations set forth in this notice for Fiscal Year 2019 are required as of October 1, 2018.

List of Section 301 Duties on Chinese Origin Goods

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

List of Section 301 Duties on Chinese Origin Goods

Under that authority of Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the US Trade Representative (USTR) released the preliminary list of Chinese origin products that may be subject to additional duties of 25%.

This list is not the final list of provisions that may be subject to a duty increase.

The implementation of these additional duties falls under the authority of Section 301, which can be imposed in order to enforce trade agreements, resolve trade disputes, and open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services.

The proposed list covers approximately 1300 separate tariff lines and will undergo further review in a public notice and comment process, including a hearing.  After completion of this process, USTR will issue a final determination on the products subject to the additional duties.

The schedule for comments released at this time is as follows:

April 23, 2018:  Due date for filing requests to appear and a summary of expected testimony at the public hearing and for filing pre-hearing submissions.

May 11, 2018:  Due date for submission of written comments.

May 15, 2018:  The Section 301 Committee will convene a public hearing in the main hearing room of the U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E. Street SW, Washington DC 20436 beginning at 10:00 a.m.

May 22, 2018:  Due date for submission of post-hearing rebuttal comments.

To read more about Section 301: China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation, click on the link provided:


General System of Preferences (GSP) Renewal

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

General System of Preferences (GSP) Renewal

One of the conditions of the latest spending bill signed by President Trump on Friday, March 23, 2018 included a provision to renew Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits. These benefits will take effect on April 22, 2018 and applied retroactively to December 31, 2017 when the program expired. GSP will be in effect until December 31, 2020.

Customs and Border Protection will notify the trade upon completion of the programming for this renewal of GSP. Because FHK continued to utilize the “A” indicator for all applicable goods, refunds should be automatically refunded, as they have in the past. A report will be provided to our clients of their eligible entries and we encourage you to monitor and track your refunds. The deadline to file refund requests is September 18, 2018, which is 180 days from the time the bill was signed into law.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you have regarding GSP renewal.

US Commerce Reports on Steel and Aluminum Imports

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

US Commerce Reports on Steel and Aluminum Imports

Recommends Various Tariffs and Quotas

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released his findings that imports of steel and aluminum threaten the national security of the United States. Based on these Commerce reports, Secretary Ross has recommended to the President that he impose tariffs and quotas on a broad range of steel and aluminum imports. If carried through, this will likely have a significant impact on the prices of both imported and domestic steel and aluminum.  For more information and product scope, please click on the link below:


Notice of Adjustment of the Merchandise Processing Fee in 2018

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Notice of Adjustment of the Merchandise Processing Fee in 2018

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for fiscal year 2018 will adjust and increase several user fees. Of particular note is the increase in the Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF).

The adjusted amounts of customs COBRA user fees for Fiscal Year 2018 are based upon a 2.677% rate adjustment.

The  increase in MPF is reflected below:

Minimum – $25.67 up from $25.00
Maximum – $497.99 up from $485.00
Informal – $2.05 up from $2.00

The rate of 0.3464% remains unchanged

The Federal Register notice, published last week indicates the adjusted fees will go into effect January 1, 2018.