Legislative & Judicial Updates

The President signed on Friday, February 15, 2019, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, an appropriations bill to keep the government fully open. In the Joint Explanatory Statement (JES) from the House Appropriations Committee that accompanied the bill, Congress directs the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to create an exclusion process for the third tranche of Section 301 tariffs on China “no later than 30 days after the enactment of this Act, following the same procedures as those in rounds 1 and 2….”  This language does not tie a round 3 exclusion process to the level of the tariff (10% or 25%).  Significantly, though, this language in the JES was not included as part of the bill signed by the President and is therefore not legally binding.  Nevertheless, the JES expresses Congress’ intent and indicates that Congress expects USTR to begin an exclusion process covering goods on List 3 no later than March 17, 2019. Continue Reading Congress Directs USTR to Implement List 3 Exclusion Process by March 17, 2019

globe AsiaCAATSA Overview

Congress enacted the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) on August 2, 2017 in response to Russia’s continuing occupation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and cyber-interference in the 2018 United States Presidential elections. We previously covered CAATSA in blog posts here and here. CAATSA was notable because it passed the House of Representatives with a 419-3 approval margin and passed the Senate with a 98-2 approval margin. Among other things, CAATSA required President Donald Trump to take certain actions on the 180-day anniversary of CAATSA’s adoption, which included (but were not limited to): (i) imposing sanctions (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 231 sanctions”) against persons engaged in “significant transactions” with Russia’s defense or intelligence sectors; and (ii) preparing and submitting a report (commonly referred to as the “CAATSA Section 241 report”) to various congressional committees identifying senior political figures and oligarchs within Russia. January 29, 2018 marked CAATSA’s 180-day anniversary and, as a result, it sparked a flurry of activity related to the CAATSA Section 231 sanctions and the CAATSA Section 241 report. Continue Reading Russia Sanctions Developments Incite Controversy and Signal Possible Future Changes

North America MapThe government shutdown began on Saturday at 12:01am. Here is a list of several agencies involved in trade and transportation issues that will be affected.

International Trade Commission

The International Trade Commission will only have three to seven individuals working during the shutdown in order to protect life and property. The six Commissioners are presidential appointees and therefore are exempt from the furlough. Continue Reading Impact of Government Shutdown on Trade

White HouseToday, President Trump officially signed H.R. 3364, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA) into law. CAATSA originated as a bill which was focused on only Iran. However, partially in response to Russian cyber-interference with the 2016 election, the Senate expanded CAATSA to impose additional sanctions against Russia and also codify into law various sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration in the form of Executive Orders. The House of Representatives then approved these additions and added further sanctions against North Korea. Eventually, the House and Senate approved the final version of CAATSA by a margin of 419-3 and 98-2, respectively. For additional detail on CAATSA’s legislative history, please see our previous alerts here, here and here.

Continue Reading President Signs Russian, Iran and North Korea Sanctions Legislation into Law

White HouseLast night, Thursday, July 27, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” by a vote of 98-2. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday after adding in new sanctions against North Korea. Among other things, the legislation would impose additional sanctions against Russia and restrict President Trump’s ability to withdraw or relax previous Russian sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration.  To learn more about the bill, please see our July 26th post. The Senate created the bill back in June, where it also passed 98-2, before sending it to the House. Despite reports that the addition of North Korea would result in a delay from the Senate, the Senate passed it just over 48 hours after the House.

Continue Reading Senate Sends Russian Sanctions Bill to the President

Congress ChamberYesterday, July 25th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” by a vote of 419-3. The bill originated as an act in the Senate which was focused on Iran. In response to Russian meddling in the U.S. election, the Senate expanded that bill to include additional sanctions against Russia, codify various Russia-Ukraine sanctions promulgated by the Obama Administration into law and add procedural provisions to delay or prevent any efforts by the Trump Administration to relax those codified Obama Administration sanctions. The Senate passed their revised version of this legislation last month by a vote of 98-2. For more information on the Senate’s earlier approval, please see our post on June 16th.

Continue Reading Congress Passes Russian Sanctions Bill with New Sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea

cargo shipJuly 5 is the deadline to submit comments in response to the Federal Maritime Commission’s Notice of Inquiry seeking guidance on maritime regulations that should be modified or eliminated. As noted in our previous post, within the NOI the FMC specifically identifies the regulations which impose tariff publication requirements (46 C.F.R. §520) as a target for deregulation.

Coupled with recent comments by Acting FMC Chairman Michael Khouri acknowledging the lack of purpose in tariff publication, it appears that tariff publication requirements may be coming to an end:

Continue Reading Tariff Reform: FMC Taking Aim

Container ShipCurrent bills (HR 2593, S. 1119) authorizing appropriations for the Federal Maritime Commission contain substantive terms which seem to forecast the path the regulatory agency is taking with respect to both tariff requirements and regulation of ocean transportation intermediaries.

Tariff References

The bills address some meaningful changes to the current antiquated tariff system. Combined with the FMC’s new Regulatory Reform Task Force, and the corresponding Notice of Inquiry issued by the FMC seeking specifics from the shipping public for deregulation, it appears the FMC  may be taking a clear stance on tariffs. Acting Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Michael Khouri, has made several public statements which confirm the conclusion that tariffs have no place in the current ocean transportation marketplace.

Continue Reading The Federal Maritime Commission Authorization Act of 2017: A Death Knell for Tariffs and Closer Carrier Scrutiny?