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TradeInFocus   Our compilation of news to keep you in focus on key trade matters

Ambassador Froman Discusses TPP Implementation @ APEC Ministerial Meeting in Peru
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation - 18 May 2016
With an eye on a possible lame-duck vote, Ambassador Froman discussed the importance of "smooth implementation" of the TPP obligations with his 11 counterparts in side meetings before the APEC trade ministerial meeting in Lima May 18. In a subsequent media call, Ambassador Froman indicated that discussion of implementation plans with individual TPP countries range from intellectual property protection to customs issues to the labor consistency plans with Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam.

According to updates from the various ministers in Lima, six TPP members (Malaysia, Mexico, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, and Vietnam) have initiated domestic ratification procedures. Japan initiated parliamentary deliberations in April, but has suspended them for now in the aftermath of the Kyushu earthquake and an upcoming election in the Upper House of the Diet scheduled for July.
Per report from Lima by US Delegate to APEC, John A. Leitner

International Trade Commission Report on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
International Trade Commission - 18 May 2016
The long-awaited Congressionally-mandated economic impact analysis of the TPP from the International Trade Commission (ITC) was released, as expected, late May 18. Compared to other widely publicized studies conducted by the World Bank and Petri and Plummer (Peterson Institute), the ITC took a conservative if not cautious approach, resulting in relatively small overall projections for GDP (increase in annual US real income of $57 billion or 0.15% by 2032 and 0.18% by 2047 over levels without the TPP), exports ($57.2 billion by 2032, with exports to non-FTA partners accounting for over half of this) and employment (128,000 jobs by 2032 and 174,000 by 2047).

Agriculture showed the largest overall gains since the ITC model primarily focused on the effects of tariff elimination. While there was some effort made to model the effects of eliminating non-tariff measures on US industrial and services exports, the results were not as robust as those shown by the World Bank and Peterson studies because the coverage was not as extensive.
ITC statement & full report


NEWS FLASH: Governments, Industry Should be 'Pragmatic' as VGM is Implemented
American Shipper - May 23, 2016
However, the International Maritime Organization's Maritime Safety Committee said there should be no delay in the implementation of the verified gross mass rule. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) said its Maritime Safety Committee has approved a circular on advice to governments, port terminals, companies and ship masters on the new requirement in the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention requiring shippers to provide the verified gross mass (VGM) of packed containers to carriers.

A draft version of the circular says "administrations and port state control authorities should adopt a practical and pragmatic approach when verifying compliance with the requirements of the SOLAS regulations" for three months after July 1, when the rule goes into effect. "There are no doubt still a number of grey areas."

Details


Supply Chain Management Review - May 24, 2016
Tariffs on goods from TPP countries totaled nearly $6 billion in 2015, and nearly all would eventually be eliminated after the measure is enacted, which would benefit consumers through lower prices. The recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement will have a positive impact on both retailers and American consumers once enacted, according to a new report released by the National Retail Federation.

"This report shows the importance of international trade to the US economy and how TPP would create economic growth and opportunity in the United States," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "Congress should move quickly to approve this agreement so American workers, consumers and businesses can begin to realize those advantages as soon as possible."

The "Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Holds Potential for Retailers and American Families" report said that prices of imported retail merchandise are driven up considerably by tariffs, which amount to hidden taxes on consumers that can range as high as 67.5 percent on footwear or 32 percent on apparel, for example. Tariffs on goods from TPP countries totaled nearly $6 billion in 2015, and nearly all would eventually be eliminated after the measure is enacted, which would benefit consumers through lower prices.

The report found that international trade is a major supporter of US employment, accounting for 6.9 million US jobs in the retail industry. "The TPP will have a significant positive impact on American families, workers and the retailers who seek to provide them with a wide range of goods at affordable prices," according to the report, which was prepared for NRF by The Trade Partnership. "It will lower costs across global supply chains in the TPP region, and those lower costs will be reflected in US price tags". Families will benefit from greater spending power both from lower prices and higher wages."

- In addition to the economic value of eliminating tariffs, the report highlighted labor and environmental protections in the agreement that would be valuable to US retailers.
- "TPP will make it much easier for retailers to ensure that factories in TPP countries adhere to labor and environment conditions in their codes of conduct," the report said, citing prohibitions against child and forced labor and protections for endangered species.

Details

TPP Will Help America's Tech Companies Compete in Asia-Pacific Markets
US Coalition for TPP - May 26, 2016
America's information and communications technology (ICT) sector employs 6.7 million American workers and accounts for an estimated 7 percent of US gross domestic product. While the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries are already important markets for US technology exports - US technology companies exported $10 billion in goods and services to TPP markets in 2014 - with the TPP in force, US tech companies could export even more. Here's a snapshot of just some of the TPP's market access benefits for America's ICT sector:

- The TPP lowers barriers, like stiff tariffs of up to 35 percent on US tech products, and other restrictions on accessing TPP-covered markets.

- The TPP will also help keep the Internet free and open by ensuring that data can flow unimpeded across national borders and that US ICT companies cannot be forced to localize data servers or reveal source code.
In short, the TPP will level the playing field. The TPP will create the best possible conditions for innovation, job creation and greater economic growth in today's digital economy and for the American companies who are its leaders.

Details: US Coalition for TPP

Port of Oakland Terminal: Appointments Mandatory for Imports
Port of Oakland - May 27, 2016
Oakland International Container Terminal (OICT) said today it's making appointments mandatory for most containerized import pick-ups beginning June 6. It means harbor truckers usually won't be able to drive off loaded boxes without a reservation. OCIT said its goal is to shorten lines at terminal gates while speeding up cargo delivery to customers. "We applaud this move," said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. "This is the largest marine terminal in Oakland and they"re taking all possible steps to improve trade flow."

The terminal said it will require appointments for drivers picking up containers from import delivery lanes. These are rows of containers discharged from ships and stacked five-high to await collection. The boxes are lifted from stacks and loaded on trucks by rubber-tired gantry cranes. The process is the most time consuming at ocean shipping terminals. Mandatory import reservations will be an extension of the terminal's existing appointment system, OICT said. Appointments to enter terminal gates are already available, it explained.

OICT said appointments will eliminate long lines of drivers waiting for imports on a first-come, first-serve basis. The terminal handles 67 percent of the containerized cargo shipped through Oakland. It releases about 1,000 import loads daily. The terminal said it won't require appointments for other transactions such as empty container return. It added that appointments won't be required for three unique types of import pick-ups:
- Peel-offs, which enable drivers to take the first container from a stack of imports all intended for the same customer;
- Dray-offs, which are imports transported to a nearby facility and available for pick-up around the clock; and
- Pre-mounted loads, which are import containers affixed to chassis and ready for immediate hauling over the road.

Appointments are the most recent effort to improve cargo flow at the Port of Oakland. Two months ago, OICT began operating night and Saturday gates. Since then it has added staff, purchased additional cargo-handling equipment and opened a new yard exclusively for empty containers.

Details: Port of Oakland

Attention all TTB regulated importers. Sooner or later you will have to sign the attached forms if you want to import into the US. Should we not have these signed forms when cargo arrives, the cargo cannot be cleared until we receive the forms and can present them to TTB. That will make you liable for any and all storage and/or demurrage charges. Do not run that risk.

I?m also attaching two emails from TTB. One explains the pilot program, the other confirms ACE TTB will be mandatory before TTB regulations are changed.

For some time now Customs has been developing a replacement for the old out dated software system that has been in place since the 80ls. Called "ACE" for Automated Commercial Environment the purpose of the software was not just to update Customs but to provide a "single window" for all government agencies involved in International Trade.

The result is that we will be required to have and transmit electronically data we either never had to deal with before or only had to have in our possession without necessarily giving it to Customs. A good example that you are all aware of is COLAs. Alcoholic beverages imported into the US are required to have a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) on file with the TTB. We have been required to have a COLA in our possession when importing TTB regulated beverages. With the old system we could either submit the COLAs in hardcopy or electronically if requested.

When TTB goes mandatory in ACE on July 23rd we will no longer to allowed to submit paper or electronic COLAs. Instead the COLA ID number will be transmitted through ACE along with the Customs entry for each and every import. In order to be allowed to do this the importer must submit two forms to TTB.

Since technically this is an alternative filing method TTB is requesting importers to submit a letter on your letterhead requesting permission to use ACE instead of the methods outlined in TTB regs. This is becoming a requirement since TTB filing in ACE will become mandatory before TTB can have their regulations updated.

TTB is also asking for a waiver of confidentiality as some of the information about the TTB pilot will be publicized. TTB has assured us that it will be the broker's name that will be used, not the importer?s but they are asking for this waiver from the importer anyway. Samples of both letters are attached.

Again, as in importer you must be accepted into ACC TTB in order to continue importing after ACE TTB becomes mandatory at the end of June. As with any new program it would be unwise to wait until the last minute to do this and risk delaying your imports and paying storage charges when your shipments can't clear Customs.


tradeinfocus is a summary of news and events on the trade policy front for clients, trade & legislative colleagues, and professional friends of W.J. Byrnes & Co.