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Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

Trade improves the economic well-being of Americans, advances freedom around the world, and promotes our nation's security. The U.S. government, principally through the United States Trade Representative (USTR), is committed to promoting trade and reducing or eliminating barriers that prevent or hamper trade between the U.S. and other countries. The persistence of trade barriers applied to chemical manufacturing affirms the need to remain actively engaged on multiple fronts. A primary example of a commonly-used strategy to hamper trade is the promulgation of overreaching regulation, such as the European Union’s REACH legislation.

Companies can work directly with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative or with their trade association to alert USTR to trade barriers they are experiencing and provide real world examples. If you have a trade barrier to report, find out who to get in contact with at USTR by going to http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/contact-us.

The Trade Compliance Center through the Department of Commerce also has a mechanism for reporting barriers. Their online complaint form can be found at http://tcc.export.gov/.

For resources on trade problems go to: http://www.export.gov/tradeproblems/index.asp.
 


Free Trade Agreements

Since the early 1990s, nations in the Western hemisphere have been pursuing numerous economic integration efforts through the development of free trade areas and customs unions. Examples include the Mercosur, NAFTA, MEFTA, APEC, CAFTA-DR and ASEAN. Numerous bilateral free trade agreements have also been initiated, especially within the past eight years. The United States now has bilateral agreements with Australia, Bahrain, Chile, Israel, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Oman, Peru and Singapore. Pending are agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama. Bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and trade and investment framework agreements (TIFAs), precursors to free trade agreements, are in place with many more countries.

Currently the U.S. and China are negotiating a BIT, which may produce some concrete benefits to both sides such as more transparent laws and regulations and non-discriminatory treatment of foreign investments. The expansion of the P4 agreement is also being monitored as it is a potential springboard for increased trade in the region.

The United States is in the process of negotiating agreements with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. These bills have controversial elements, but all represent tremendous political significance as well as commercial opportunities for U.S. chemical exports.

For more information on U.S. free trade agreements and how to benefit from a preferential trading status go to http://www.export.gov/FTA/index.asp.
 


Temporary Duty Suspensions

The U.S. Congress passes bills biennially to temporarily lift the duty applied to certain imports that are not produced in the U.S. Duty suspensions generally last four years, and once the duty suspension is granted, it may be renewed if there are no objections. In order to have the duty of a particular product lifted, the product must not have any domestic competition manufactured in the U.S., there must be no opposition to the suspension, and the tariff revenue lost must not exceed $500,000.

The current set of duty suspensions is set to expire at the end of 2009. The House and Senate are working on moving the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) before the end of the year, so that companies will still receive these benefits. For any bills that were previously introduced in the 110th Congress, they have been carried over. If you think you have a product which may qualify, but did not introduce it in the last Congress you still may be able to have it introduced in the Senate. Approach your sponsoring Senator now regarding this process.
 


U.S. Customs and Border Protection

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for securing U.S. borders while facilitating legitimate trade. The agency is the first line of defense at ports of entry, whether air, land or sea. When importing and exporting chemicals through customs, companies must comply with TSCA import and export requirements, available at http://www.epa.gov/oppt/import-export/

To ensure safe cargo enters the country, CBP requires importers file importer security filings (ISF). Commonly known as “10+2”. The interim final rule for importer security filings and additional carrier requirements was published in the Federal Register November 25, 2008. The rule is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-27048.pdf.

High volume shippers might consider joining the Customs- Trade Partnership Against Terrorism(C-TPAT). C-TPAT is CBP’s trusted shipper program. It is a voluntary supply chain security initiative whereby companies undergo extra validation to ensure the integrity of their supply chain.

For more information contact Industry Partnership Programs at (202) 344-1180 or fax (202) 344-2626 or email us, at industry.partnership@dhs.gov
 







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