International Trade & Supply Chain

Yesterday, Beau JacksonRobert Stang and Linda Tiller joined manufacturers, distributors and service providers in Kansas City for a discussion about the impact of tariffs on the business community. This insightful program included economic, industry and legal perspectives on current trade conditions and the various implications of recently-imposed tariffs.

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With the government shutdown entering its fourth week and with no end in sight, a number of federal agencies are feeling the pressure. The Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission have been effectively shuttered for the past four weeks and recently the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released a short statement indicating that they had begun furloughing nonessential personnel. A number of other agencies and departments have also had their work affected or completely suspended. Outlined below is a brief analysis the current shutdown is having on those federal agencies which are critical to imports, exports, and international trade.

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shipping containersMost agencies of the United States government, including the Federal Maritime Commission (”the Commission”), have been closed since December 22, 2018. Since that date shippers, ocean common carriers, and non-vessel operating common carriers in their shipper role have not had access to SERVCON, the service contract electronic filing system of the Commission. So how is it intended for these supply chain players to adhere to Commission regulations related to initial or service contracts about to be renewed, or amendments to existing service contracts during this dysfunctional period which at this point hasn’t shown even a hint of an end game? Short answer: the same as always, but without the filing obligation nor risk of sanctions (penalties). The filing requirement is temporarily lifted. Therefore, service contract activity can continue as usual without concern of penalties. There are some caveats though.
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On Saturday, December 1, 2018, President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met to discuss trade relations between the two countries. Following their meeting, President Trump indicated that he would postpone increasing the tariff rate to 25% on certain Chinese goods worth up to $200 billion currently covered under Section 301 List 3. This increase was originally slated for January 1, 2019 (see our previous post here).  The 10% duties on that $200 million in goods will remain in effect, however, as will the 25% tariffs on the goods worth about $50 billion, which appear on the first and second list of additional duties. According to the White House press statement, the parties agreed to “endeavor” on a 90-day period, until March 1, 2019, to discuss the restructuring of China’s trade policies and come to an agreement.
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