Today, RILA joined a group of associations in a letter to Ambassador Lighthizer urging USTR to reopen the comment period in the section 301 investigation into Vietnam’s currency practices. The letter notes that Treasury’s currency report, which was released on December 16 and labels Vietnam a currency manipulator, represents a change in circumstances that could have a substantial impact on the 301 investigation. This change warrants reopening the comment period to ensure all stakeholders have the opportunity to comment on this new information and appear before USTR. In addition to reopening the comment period, the letter requests USTR to postpone the currency hearing scheduled for December 29 and delay the deadline for post-hearing comments. You can view the letter here.
RILA has not yet heard whether our request to testify in the currency and timber hearings have been accepted by USTR. However, to prepare for possible testimony, we will be sharing a draft with you sometime on Monday, December 21 for comments. We know many people will be taking time off for the holidays and wanted to give you a heads up. If you have additional input you’d like to share before we circulate a draft, please send it to me as soon as possible.
CBP Protest Webinar Recording
On December 9, 2020, CBP’s Office of Trade (OT), Trade Policy and Programs (TPP) Directorate, Commercial Operations, Revenue and Entry (CORE) Division hosted a Protest webinar for the trade community. The webinar was recorded and subsequently posted to CBP.gov. You can follow this link to view the recorded webinar or presentation slides.
CBP Strategy 2021-2026 Released
CBP has released its Strategy 2021-2026, which introduces the agency’s new vision statement — “enhancing the Nation’s security through innovation, intelligence, collaboration, and trust” — and new mission statement — “protect the American people, safeguard our borders, and enhance the Nation’s economic prosperity.” The strategy also prioritizes 12 strategic objectives across the agency which include: counter network; awareness and enforcement; secure and compliant trade; biometric identification; targeting and vetting; stakeholder experience; talent acquisition and workforce development (formerly hiring and retention); wellness and resilience (formerly resilience); partnerships; data and analytics; IT infrastructure; and Intelligence (formerly OneCBP).
MTB and GSP
Both GSP and the current MTB tariff relief bill are set to expire on December 31. The expectation is that Congress will continue negotiating on a COVID and government funding package over the weekend, and it is possible both bills could be included in a year-end deal, but the prospects do not look great at the moment. There continues to be negotiations among Democrats and Republicans about whether to pass a clean renewal of GSP, as proposed by Chairman Grassley, or a renewal that includes new criteria, as proposed by Chairman Blumenauer, or a compromise bill. We will keep you updated.
Findings in Section 301 Investigations into DSTs Could Come in January
According to a report this afternoon from Inside U.S. Trade, USTR “is aiming to release the results of section 301 investigations into digital services taxes being considered by 10 countries in early January.” Earlier this week, there had been rumors that USTR might release its findings in some of the DST investigations – which were launched in June – as early as today. Inside U.S. Trade also reported that USTR has been holding consultations with the countries that are covered by the investigations – which include Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom – and hopes to wrap up consultations by the end of the year. We’ll continue to keep you updated on any developments with these investigations.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions. And for those of you beginning your holiday leave this weekend, we wish you a safe, restful, and happy holidays!