Friday, October 30, 2009
Health Canada Consulting on Policy Options for Precautionary Labelling of Priority Allergens on Pre-Packaged Foods
In 2007, Health Canada initiated a policy review on the use of precautionary labelling of priority allergens on pre-packaged foods. The department has now completed its review and is preparing to consult with stakeholders and the Canadian public on the various policy options.
The public consultations will be carried out in two phases: a web consultation which, once online, will be open to the public for a period of 90 days; and regional workshops with key stakeholders that will be held in November and December 2009. For more information on the consultations, please visit Health Canada’s website.
The new U.S. ambassador to Canada says he’s confident the two countries can find a way to protect their borders without hampering free trade. David Jacobson says protecting the United States and Canada from terrorist threats is a key priority. Jacobson, who is on a tour of Canada after becoming ambassador earlier this month, plans to visit several U.S.-Canada border crossings […]
But he says border security and efficiency isn’t a zero-sum game, and while he understands Canada’s concerns over Washington’s Buy American policies, he is confident both sides can come to a solution. High-level discussions are ongoing and Jacobson says that while no deal has yet been reached, the talks have been constructive. Read more here.
Attempts by U.S. politicians to curb imports of oilsands and “dirty” energy from Canada could face a challenge under World Trade Organization rules, the author of a survey into U.S. protectionism said Monday. According to Helmut Mach, director of the Western Centre for Economic Research at the University of Alberta School of Business, American attempts to restrict imports of higher-carbon fuels such as oilsands could be illegal under international trade rules because it would discriminate against how a particular product – in this case oil – is manufactured.
In that sense, climate bills before the U.S. Senate and Congress could be construed as protectionist measures, Mach said in an interview. “Normally, under international trade rules, how a product is produced is irrelevant,” he said. “PPM’s (process and production methods) are not supposed to be a determining factor in purchasing decisions. It has the potential to become very controversial and complicated factor in the climate-change debate.” Read more here.
Foreign investors may lose tax benefits if Mexico’s congress approves a bill that won’t allow businesses to consolidate results
Companies that have invested in Mexico could be affected if the Mexican congress approves a change that would put an end to tax benefits that allow businesses to consolidate their earnings and losses, in order to pay less taxes, said specialized foreign trade consultant firm IQOM. The changes proposed by the federal government are being analyzed by Congress and could be incompatible with expropriation rules under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Mexico, Canada and the United States have had since 1994.
Mexican fiscal law today allows different companies with the same parent company, to pay taxes as if they were one single company.
This means any company, foreign or domestic, can deduct the losses of one of its subsidiaries against the earnings of another, but if the Mexican congress approves the changes, 4,862 companies (domestic and foreign) with operations in the country face paying higher taxes. Read more here.
The 2009 edition of the WTO’s International Trade Statistics, a comprehensive overview of world trade up to 2008, was published in electronic format on 28 October 2009 and will be available in print in November.
International Trade Statistics 2009 includes the details of merchandise trade by product and trade in commercial services by category. Each chapter is introduced by a highlights section that identifies the most salient trends in the data, including the first quarter of 2009, and illustrates them with numerous charts and maps. There is also a methodological chapter (Chapter IV Metadata) that explains essential concepts and definitions used in compiling the statistics, and an appendix with detailed data on trade by region up to 2008.
All data used in the publication, as well as additional charts not included in the book, can be downloaded from the WTO web site at http://stat.wto.org. With these additions, International Trade Statistics 2009 serves as an invaluable reference for researchers, policy makers and anyone interested in international trade.
This publication and its data is available free on the WTO web site in the following forms:
• charts and tables in Excel format
• chapter highlights in pdf format
• statistics in a searchable database
Printed versions of this publication will be available in English, French and Spanish and can be ordered from the online bookshop. PDF versions of the entire report will also be posted on the WTO web site.
A harmonized sales tax is not on the horizon for Manitoba, Premier Greg Selinger said Monday. Selinger effectively put an end to HST speculation by firmly stating that harmonization would not be part of his government’s coming budget. Manitobans would pay $400 million more each year in taxes if the PST and GST were merged into an HST, Selinger said. A harmonized tax would be collected on such untaxed items as books and children’s clothing, which are exempt from the PST.
In August, when he was finance minister, Selinger said he was weighing the pros and cons of harmonizing the provincial sales tax with the GST after federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he was prepared to cut cheques to Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island to sign on to tax harmonization.
Selinger was named the province’s premier after winning a leadership contest against Steve Ashton on October 17. Selinger replaced Gary Doer, who has been the premier since 1999 and party leader since 1988. Doer announced August 27 he was stepping down. The next day, he was appointed Canada’s next ambassador to the U.S. Just two weeks before his announcement, Doer said he was seriously looking into the HST. When 94% of the country is moving toward harmonization, Manitoba has to look seriously at the pros and cons, Doer said at the time.
The Export Controls Division of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, in cooperation with the Controlled Goods Directorate of Public Works and Governments Services Canada, is organizing a series of Domestic and Export Controls Seminars in the following cities:
Ottawa - November 24, 2009
Montreal- Dec (TBD) 2009
Halifax - January 27, 2010
Calgary - February 23, 2010
Vancouver - March 24, 2010
These seminars will review the responsibilities of Canadian industry in safeguarding military, strategic, and sensitive commercial goods and technology. Our presentation will cover the following issues:
- International security and trade
- Understanding the Export Control List
- Applying for an export permit using Export Controls Online (EXCOL)
- Understanding the application review process
- Common errors made by exporters
If your company is active in any of the following sectors, you should consider participation: defence, security, nuclear, aerospace and space, information and communication technology, and chemical or biological technology. The seminars will be aimed at individuals in the following roles:
- Customs or export process specialists
- International marketing managers
- Compliance officers
- Legal officers
- Designated Officers
Registration details are available on the EICS website here.
US Customs and Border Protection are obligated to re-validate C-TPAT members at least once every three years. Many companies give a huge sigh of relief after their initial validation, and then seem to put the C-TPAT program on the “back burner”. Before you know it, it is time for re-validation. CBP calls to advise that they will be conducting a re-validation. Your boss, of course, comes to you to begin the miracle process of being prepared for the re-validation. You have no idea where to start. That may even be why you decided to attend this webinar.
After this presentation you will be armed with the necessary information to prepare for this visit, as well as being prepared to discuss the process with senior management. So, hold on tight as we take a journey through the process and preparation of re-validating your C-TPAT security profile. Here’s to border security…and away we go!
Please join us for:
C-TPAT Re-Validation Preparation
Offered by: NCBFAA Educational Institute
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Noon - 1:30 p.m. ET
Cost: $50.00 per member participant$75.00 per non-member participant1.5
CCS points for attendance
Presenter: Randi Keenan, Senior Consultant, ARI
To participate, simply go to http://www.ncbfaa.org and select “C-TPAT Re-Validation Preparation” under “Upcoming Events.” Members: be sure to log in first to take advantage of the lower member rate.
Thank you, and we look forward to your participation!
Cynthia D. (Jerome) Allen, LCB, CCS
NCBFAA Educational Institute Director
1200 18th Street, NW, #901 Washington, DC 20036
Office Phone: (202) 466-0222 • Cell Phone: (313) 330-8630
The Government published a notice in the October 24, 2009 edition of Canada Gazette Part I regarding the proposed remission of customs duties on future importations of certain types of vessels of a length of 129 metres or more. The Canada Gazette notice is available at the hyperlink below.
Comments should be submitted by December 11, 2009, in the format described in the following notice.
Is your business looking to expand into the U.S.? Then, get the edge on the U.S. tax man!
Today, international commerce is a key driver to the business growth of many companies. For many Canadian companies, the first step towards an increased international presence is to expand operations into the U.S. However, the wrong U.S. tax structure can put your company at a real disadvantage.
This webinar will show Canadian companies how to implement a successful global tax strategy while also keeping the Internal Revenue Service happy!
Why should you participate? You will:
• Learn more about the Federal and State corporate tax systems for Canadian corporations and discover how to maximize your profits in the U.S.;
• Find out more about transfer pricing, public law 86-272, etc.;
• Get the information you need about U.S. Government incentives and how to build a successful tax strategy for your company.
Date: Friday, November 6, 2009
Time: 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. EDT
Please register by November 4, 2009, here.
U.S. ambassador on Canadian tour
The new U.S. ambassador to Canada says he is confident the two countries can find a way to protect their borders without hampering free trade.
Ambassador David Jacobson took his message to a business audience in Toronto on Thursday, telling them that while addressing terror threats is a key priority, trade is just as important for the economies of both countries.
“The security of both the United States and Canadian people, and efficiency at the border, is not a zero-sum game,” said Jacobson.
“We do not have to choose either security or trade — if we approach both of them intelligently, we can have both of them.”
Jacobson, who is on a tour of Canada after becoming ambassador earlier this month, plans to visit several U.S.-Canada border crossings in the Niagara area today.
He said part of the problem with the border is that much of the infrastructure is outdated — some of it even predates the Second World War. Read more here.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Once again, the ‘R’ word is everywhere – although this time, it’s not recession, but recovery. Positive signals in the economy are mounting, setting off lots of ‘recovery buzz’. Trouble is, the growth that we are seeing still leaves us well below pre-recession activity levels. Clearly there is a big difference between the return of growth and the onset of true recovery. The race to recovery is on, but we still have big hurdles to clear before we’ll have a solid fix on the finish line.
This race has now been underway for awhile, and key hurdles have already been cleared. Financial markets staved off crisis last fall, as massive and rapid injections of liquidity kept funds flowing in the wake of the toxic asset problem. Large financial institutions have returned to profitability, and credit spreads have stabilized at much more normal levels. The world economy has also survived a drop in total production and trade far larger than any in recent memory. And the current optimism about the near-term future is occurring as unemployment rates around the world continue to march upward. Read more or watch the video here
New Ontario plan mirrors others across the country
The Ontario government announced a proposal in October to make producers responsible for packaging and end-of-life products. The plan would amend the Waste Diversion Act to require producers – meaning manufacturers, brand owners or first importers – to reclaim and recycle products, and report on their progress every year.
The program isn’t unique to Ontario. On the west coast, BC is asking producers to take back small appliances at their end of life, effective July 2010. Saskatchewan is working on a program to shift part of the cost of packaging recycling to producers. Other provinces have their own version of extended producer responsibility (EPR). […]
“The issue for producers is it’s not federally-mandated. So all of us are having to manage individual programs from individual provinces and individual supply chain infrastructures, and it’s all very complicated,” said Warrington Ellacott, senior manager of government relations with Whirlpool Canada. “I can remember a conversation with a national retailer who has 1,800 designated SKUs in BC, Quebec, Ontario and soon to be Manitoba and Saskatchewan… and they’re not compliant.” […]
“You have to figure out if you’re designated, and when is the rollout,” Ellacott advised. “You have to pay attention to the ‘producer’ definition, because it varies by province.” Some provinces place the onus on retailers to recover product, while others leave it up to manufacturers, importers and distributors to work it out for themselves. Read more here.
The Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is seeking comments by Dec. 28 on an information collection addressing paperwork requirements related to the exportation, transportation and importation of meat and poultry products.
FSIS requires that meat and poultry establishments exporting product to foreign countries complete an export certificate in order to certify to the importing countries that FSIS inspectors have inspected the product and have found it sound and wholesome. Meat and poultry products not marked with the mark of inspection and shipped from one official establishment to another for further processing must be transported under USDA seal to prevent such unmarked product from entering into commerce. To track product shipped under seal, FSIS requires shipping establishments to complete a form that identifies the type, amount and weight of the product. Read more here
Laying the groundwork for U.S. President Barack Obama’s first visit to China next month, both the countries Thursday agreed not to introduce any new trade protection measures against each other. This was decided at a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT) held in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.
Both sides also vowed to oppose trade and investment protectionism and follow the related consensus of the G20 summit.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, leading the American delegation, said it was “critical” to demonstrate that the two countries could work together despite simmering trade disputes in many areas, claims of protectionism and a wide U.S. trade deficit with China. The U.S. trade deficit with China is the widest it has with any country, totaling $143.7 billion in the first eight months of this year – down 15.1% from the corresponding period last year. Read more here.
Price index lets purchasers benchmark their contracts
The Canadian transportation industry is currently experiencing a “perfect storm” of economic factors. Lower fuel prices, slow economic growth and an improving Canada-U.S. exchange rate have all put significant pressure on carriers to lower rates, while buyers of over-the-road freight services are clearly benefiting.
According to the monthly Canadian General Freight Index (CGFI), prices paid by Canadian shippers in July 2009 for over-the-road truck transportation have declined 15.6% year-over-year, and a full 9.7% since December alone. A significant factor driving this decline has been lower fuel prices and the resulting reduction in fuel surcharges assessed by carriers (from 16.3% at the end of last year to 12.3% in July).
However, the base rates paid by Canadian shippers has clocked a decline of 5.7% since the beginning of the year, even when the impact of fuel surcharges is removed. This is a significant decrease in light of the usual trend of price increases levied by carriers. Read more here.
A series of trade restrictions on Canadian farm products this year has ratcheted up the pressure on farmers, many of whom say the barriers reflect protectionism rather than genuine concern over food safety. From China to Europe, various foreign markets have banned shipments of Canadian-produced raw materials for cattle feed, vegetable oil, linoleum flooring and hot dogs, driving down prices at the farm gate.
Making matters worse, the trade bans causing farmers so much pain seem strangely arbitrary to many Canadians.
“A lot of it comes down to recessionary (pressure) that they’re under,” Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said on Wednesday. Export markets “tend to get more protectionist as they safeguard their own folks.” As for the specific restrictions, Ritz said: “Some are based on a bit of reality, some are a real stretch.” Read more here.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has published GST/HST Notice 247. This notice provides additional information on the collection of HST in Ontario and British Columbia, scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2010.
Pages 6 and 7 of this notice include information on imported goods and services, and a lengthy question and answer section is included at the end of the notice.
In particular, it should be noted that the provincial part of the HST generally applies to non-commercial goods, that is, it is generally collected on casual goods only. This is the same practice as in the three provinces that currently collect HST.
The Canadian railway industry saw a decline in the volume of cargo carried in August, the result of a drop in commodities loaded in Canada as well as traffic received from the United States.
Total freight traffic originating in Canada and freight received from the United States dropped to 21.2 million metric tonnes in August, down 16.8% from August 2008. This marked the lowest amount of traffic carried for the month of August in 10 years.
Freight loaded by the Canadian railway industry’s core transportation systems, non-intermodal and intermodal, accounted for the majority of the overall drop in cargo loaded. The industry loaded 18.8 million metric tonnes of cargo in August, down 17.0% from August 2008.
Non-intermodal freight loadings, which are typically carried in bulk or loaded in box cars, fell 16.9% to 16.7 million metric tonnes. The decrease was the result of reduced loadings in the majority of the commodity groups carried by the railways. The commodity groups with the largest declines by tonnage were iron ore and concentrates (down 1.2 million metric tonnes), potash, coal, and iron and steel, primary or semi-finished.
Links to the data files can be found here.
This memorandum has been revised in accordance with the Government of Canada’s Paper Burden Reduction Initiative. This memorandum supersedes and replaces Memorandum D7-2-3 dated May 31, 1999.
In accordance with the above, the following changes were made:
a. revisions to include the new Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) title, and updates to policy and procedures.
b. Paragraph 8, the K32-1, Drawback Claim, has been deleted from the listing of official forms and the requirement to file a K32, Drawback Claim, in duplicate has been removed.
c. Paragraph 10(b), the requirement to provide Form K32A, Certificate of Importation, Sale or Transfer, in duplicate has been removed.
d. Appendix A, Refund of Duties on Obsolete or Surplus Goods Regulations, has been replaced by paragraph 30.
e. Appendix B, K32, Drawback Claim Form, has been replaced by paragraph 31.
f. Appendix C, List of offices, has been replaced by regional CBSA, Trade Compliance Division (TCD) offices in paragraph 32.
This memorandum has been revised in accordance with the Government of Canada’s Paper Burden Reduction Initiative. This memorandum supersedes and replaces D7-3-2, dated January 1, 1991.
In accordance with the above, the following changes where made:
a. Revisions include updates to legislative references, D memorandum, policy and procedures and reflect the new name of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
b. Paragraph 9, the K32-1, Drawback Claim, has been deleted from the listing of official forms and the requirement to file a K32, Drawback Claim, in duplicate has been removed.
c. The following documentation is no longer required to be submitted with the claim; copies of any invoices, a customs certified copy of Form E15, Certificate of Destruction/Exportation and
a list in triplicate of the import accounting documents.
d. Where Form K32A, Certificate of Importation, Sale or Transfer, or Form K32B, Drawback Certificate for Exportation, waivers are required to be presented, the requirement for presentation in duplicate has been removed.
e. The Exported Motor Vehicles Drawback Regulations has been replaced by paragraph 21.
f. Paragraph 22 provides a reference to Form K32, Drawback Claim, Form K32A, Certificate of Importation, Sale or Transfer and Form K32B, Drawback Certificate of Sale for Exportation.
g. The Appendix showing a listing of drawback offices has been replaced by regional CBSA, Trade Compliance Division (TCD) offices in paragraph 23.
The United States and European Union pledged on Tuesday to work to reduce regulatory barriers that impede trade across the Atlantic, but said a free-trade pact was not in the cards right now.
“The goal ... is to build on the already very deep and broad relationship we have between the U.S. and the European Union to find further ways to integrate our economies,” said Michael Froman, White House deputy national security adviser. He spoke after a meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), a U.S.-EU forum created in 2007 with the goal of creating a “barrier-free” transatlantic marketplace. Read more here.
A senior Obama administration official is dismissing critics who say the American preoccupation with preventing terrorism has led to an unnecessary “thickening” of the Canada-U.S. border, tying up trade and hampering commerce.
“I’m aware of the charge, the thickening of the border and the sensitivities around it. My perspective is, I don’t share that view at all,” said John T. Morton who heads U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – or ICE – a branch of the much-criticized Homeland Security Department.
“In the grand scheme of things, given the length of our border and you look at the immense trade and travel that goes across our border every day, it’s not fair to say it is hard or thickened or militarized in any way,” he told Canwest News Service Tuesday. Read more here.
Today is the last day to provide input to the survey established by I.E.Canada and the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters regarding implementation of amendments to the Lacey Act. The overall results of this survey will assist with advocacy efforts in the U.S., and be shared with the Canadian Embassy in Washington.
The survey, which covers issues such as requests for compliance certificates from U.S. customers and import declarations under the Lacey Act, is available on Survey Monkey here.
Questions about the survey should be directed to Carol Osmond at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In my early 20s, I spent almost five years working for what was then known as Canada Customs, first as a university student, and then full-time for three years.
It seems a long time ago, and in speaking last week with Kim Scoville, director of the Pacific Highway District for Canada Border Services Agency last week, it also seems like it was in another world. [...]
The Huntingdon crossing in Abbotsford is also a commercial entry point, and is the third-busiest crossing. Aldergrove is less busy, and only deals with limited commercial shipments — a fact which has become newsworthy in the past few months, and one which Scoville addressed at some length in his speech to the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce.
The quietest of the five crossings is at Boundary Bay in Delta, which deals with traffic coming from Point Roberts, an isolated peninsula of the U.S. located south of Tsawwassen.
The Aldergrove CBSA office will be replaced by a new building in the next couple of years, and one thing CBSA had been considering as part of that replacement project was redirecting all commercial shipments to Huntingdon or Pacific Highway. The main reason officials were considering such a move is security. Read more here.
Manitoba Trade and Investment, through its representative in India, Global Network, has opened a trade office in Alappuzha, South India. The office will assist Manitoban companies with market research, information on doing business in India and facilitate business meetings for Manitoban trade delegations to India and Indian trade delegations to Manitoba.
In addition to Alappuzha, Manitoba Trade and Investment has also established a presence in Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. Global Network is an international trade consulting firm and Manitoba has worked with Global Network on numerous projects since 2005. The government appointed Global Network its Indian trade and investment representative last month.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
American Science and Engineering, Inc. (AS&E®) (NASDAQ: ASEI), a leading worldwide supplier of innovative X-ray detection solutions, announced today the receipt of a $9.1 million order from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for multiple MobileSearch™ HE (High-Energy) cargo and vehicle inspection systems equipped with both high-energy transmission and proprietary Z Backscatter™ X-ray imaging for detecting threats and contraband including weapons, explosives, drugs, and currency.
“We are pleased to provide CBP with AS&E`s MobileSearch HE systems to support their counter-drug and anti-terrorism programs,” said Anthony Fabiano, AS&E’s President and CEO. “MobileSearch HE offers flexible and rapid response at seaports, border crossings, and other high threat checkpoints. The system’s combination of technologies offers the unique capability to simultaneously detect both metallic and organic threats in cargo — providing detailed
information about the contents of the cargo.”
This contract was funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) equipment - enhancing border security by expanding U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) capabilities to scan commercial traffic for contraband through X-ray and other imaging technologies. Read more here.
The U.S. government announced preliminary determination in the countervailing duty investigation on imports of prestressed concrete steel wire strand from China, according to a statement released by the Commerce Department on Tuesday.
The department said that Chinese producers and exporters of prestressed concrete steel wire stand have received net countervailable subsidies ranging from 7.53 to 12.06 percent.
As a result of this preliminary determination, the Commerce Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect a cash deposit or bond on imports prestressed concrete steel wire strand from China.
In 2008, imports of prestressed concrete steel wire strand from China were valued at an estimated 178 million U.S. dollars, up from 112 million dollars in 2006.
The petition was filed on May 27, 2009. The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) made its preliminary determination on July 13.
The Commerce Department is scheduled to issue its final determination in January 2010. Read more here.
UPS Freight today announced improved transit times from western Canada to points across the United States.
"Improving and expanding our coverage and service capabilities with our country's largest trading partner is a key element of our overall growth strategy," said Kevin Hartman, UPS Freight senior vice president for strategy.
"We have listened to our customers' needs and engineered and piloted faster, more efficient network links. We plan to continue to expand and improve our capabilities throughout key markets in North America."
In all, UPS Freight is reducing transit times across 340 lanes from Calgary and Edmonton to points throughout the United States. The faster transit times include bringing Calgary to cities in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Kansas, Louisiana, South Carolina and New Mexico within four days.
Similarly, one and two days have been shaved off the transit times between Edmonton and U.S. cities along the East Coast from Connecticut to Georgia. Read more here.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Variety of issues under examination at NAFTA meeting
Some progress has been made toward confronting Washington's "Buy American" provisions but a swift resolution to the trade dispute is unlikely, Canadian Trade Minister Stockwell Day said on October 19. "We've made some headway," Day said after talks with his U.S. and Mexican counterparts at a North American Free Trade Agreement meeting in Dallas, Texas. "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon," Day said.
The U.S. stimulus bill allocates $260 billion to states and cities provided that only American-made steel and equipment be bought with the funding. Ottawa has been hoping the Obama administration would make an exception for Canadian goods in return for a guarantee that city and provincial bids would be open to U.S. firms.
Day also said that the strengthening of the Canadian dollar – partly arising from his country's "boring but stable" banking system that [avoided] the U.S. banking crisis – posed a further challenge to exporters north of the border. He quoted analysts as saying it could reach parity with the U.S. dollar by the end of the year. Read more here.
Negotiators for Canada and the European Union met in Ottawa yesterday [Monday] to begin talks on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. This has the potential to be a very good thing for Canada.
As meetings begin, the two sides are aiming high: not just "free trade" in the sense of the North American Free Trade Agreement but also more openness in areas NAFTA skirts around, government contracts, standards for food products and manufacturing, and much-improved labour mobility.
These talks must be seen as a long shot. In the current economic climate few jurisdictions are eager to open up markets. Read the complete editorial here.
Canada's new ambassador to the United States says there's no imminent resolution for the "Buy American" trade issue.
Three days into his new posting, Gary Doer was in Ottawa Thursday to meet with the federal cabinet before heading to Washington, D.C. There, addressing the "Buy American" provisions in the U.S. stimulus package will be a top priority, but Doer emphasized there is no immediate solution.
"I want to say to people here that when I came into the office, there was no deal on the desk for 'Buy American' … or in the drawer."
Americans are preoccupied right now with the health-care debate and the war in Afghanistan, he said, adding that Canadians can still get face time in Washington, but he can't act alone.
"The faces have got to be all of us. It's got to be companies, unions, cabinet secretaries meeting with cabinet ministers, ambassadors meeting with people on the Hill, prime minister with the president," said Doer. "It's got to be everybody involved in this effort." Read more here.
The worldwide recession appears to have ended, with surveys showing manufacturing activity is on the rise nearly everywhere.
“It is the emerging markets that are leading, with the U.S. following and Europe lagging,” said Chris Williamson, the chief economist of Markit, a company that surveys manufacturers in many countries. The surveys, conducted in the United States by the Institute of Supply Management and in other countries by Markit, measure not the level of manufacturing output but the way it is changing. The surveys have a reputation for showing turns in the economy, often before other indicators do. Read more here.
The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is considering amending the Hazardous Materials Regulations by incorporating various amendments to international standards and modal regulations, including changes to proper shipping names, hazard classes, packing groups, special provisions and packaging authorizations. […]
PHMSA is soliciting public comment by January 19 on the safety consequences, regulatory burden and cost implications of some of the more significant amendments adopted or under consideration for adoption in these international standards. Read more here.
Please note that the following has been updated on the CFIA web site: "Instructions to Complete the Fish Import Notification Form".
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Once again, the Canadian dollar is flirting with U.S. dollar parity. What will be the consequences if the loonie shoots past parity with the greenback? How much worse (or better) will things get? Which comes first, the U.S. dollar fall or the increase in the world price of oil? The answer is far from clear. There are logical arguments that explain the weakening in value of the U.S. dollar. First among these is the US$1.4 trillion fiscal deficit that Washington is wallowing in.
There is also the fact that the retreat into U.S. dollar holdings is no longer as important as it was in the final quarter of last year. The U.S. dollar received support while risk aversion was seen as a top priority. Now investors are moving into other assets such as stocks and commodities.
Recovery in China is already helping to drive up some commodity prices. There are still large excess inventories of oil stored in tanker fleets, but this may turn around relatively quickly. China is already moving more cars off showroom lots each month than is the case in the U.S. Read more here.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Beijing on Thursday accused Washington of launching baseless actions targeting Chinese imports, as trade tensions simmer between the global giants one month before U.S. President Barack Obama's visit.
“The U.S. launched a large number of trade remedy measures (against China) this year,” commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian told reporters. “Quite a few such measures were groundless and wrong.”
China has been the target of 88 trade actions by 19 countries this year – including 16 by Washington alone, Yao said. The total value of the cases was 10.2 billion dollars, with the U.S. accounting for 57% of that sum, Yao added. Read more here.
Friday, October 16, 2009
CIFFA recently learned ‘how companies can request importer confidentiality’ from one of the tradeshow participants at the September FIATA World Congress in Geneva.
For goods arriving in the U.S.A. via marine ports, importer data and potentially confidential commercial information is taken from the manifest data and made public through reports such as the Piers Report. If Canadian cargo is FROB (Freight Remaining on Board), or in a container arriving in North America via a U.S. port, the Canadian commercial data is also publicly available through these reports. If Canadian importers wish to remain private there is a means to so – they can request importer confidentiality.
Importer names on entry documents are confidential and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not disclose names of importers to the public. The privacy statute, 19 CFR 103.31 (d), however, allows the media to collect manifest data at every U.S. port of entry. Reporters collect and publish names of importers from vessel manifest data unless an importer/shipper requests confidentiality.
Importers can request confidentiality for 2 years by writing the Privacy Branch, 799 Ninth St., N.W., Fifth Floor Mint Annex, Washington, DC 20229. After 2 years, the request can be renewed. U.S. CBP is working on an electronic method for submitting this request, but it is not high on the priority list for CBP.
The forward-looking indexes, like that for annual orders, are at much higher levels, indicating that manufacturing activity is expected to increase in 2010
While the economic recovery in manufacturing is likely to be marked with numerous rough patches, signs are finally emerging that the sector can expect brighter days ahead, according to Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI.
The September 2009 composite index rose to 38 from a near-historic low of 24 reported in June 2009. It also represents the highest level in a year, or since an index of 48 was recorded in September 2008. At 38, however, the index still indicates that overall manufacturing activity is expected to contract over the next three to six months, relative to the levels of one year ago when the economy was entering the severe recession. The September 2009 index marks the fifth consecutive quarterly reading below 50, the demarcation point between growth and contraction. Read more here.
Related: Autos Lead Increase in U.S. Factory Production (NYT/AP)
An 80-year-old vehicular bridge that handles a fourth of U.S.-Canada trade has needed major repairs, including steps to shore up its main cables and deck, according to a 2007 safety report released on Thursday.
The once-secret report provided the first glimpse into the safety of the privately owned Ambassador Bridge, the busiest border crossing in North America. It was made public after a court battle to block its release and amid a debate on both sides of the border on plans to build an alternative span.
The engineering report commissioned by The Detroit International Bridge company, the privately held firm that owns the bridge, concluded that the suspension span was in "fair" condition and safe for vehicle traffic. Read more here.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
(New York Times – Ian Austen)
For Canadians looking to escape winter’s premature arrival in many parts of the country by visiting the United States, the equally unexpected movement of the Canadian dollar toward parity with its American counterpart is welcome news. For corporate Canada, however, the development is less inspiring.
At Cascades, a producer of cardboard used to make boxes and tissue paper, every cent the Canadian dollar gains shaves 4 million Canadian dollars from its operating earnings.
With 40% of the Canadian economy dependent on trade, mostly with the United States, the prospect of the two currencies being at par for the second time since 2007 probably creates more anxiety than joy in Canada. And while currencies around the world have been rising against the United States dollar, many are laggards compared with Canada’s. Since mid-March the Canadian dollar has risen 27%, closing on Wednesday at 97.30 cents, up from 76.53 cents.
“The Canadian dollar is a strong threat to the economy,” said David Watt, a vice president and senior currency strategist at the Royal Bank of Canada. “Once the Canadian dollar starts getting to levels like parity, the recovery scenario goes from assured to dicey.” Read more here.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a proposed rule designed to eliminate situations where imported merchandise subject to federal excise tax is effectively allowed into the U.S. 99% free of that tax through the application of a drawback claim. Comments on this rule are due by November 16.
According to CBP, the proposed amendments would preclude the filing of a substitution drawback claim for internal revenue excise tax paid on imported merchandise in situations where no excise tax was paid on the substituted merchandise or where the substituted merchandise is the subject of a different claim for refund or drawback of tax under any provision of the Internal Revenue Code. The proposal would continue to allow for the return of 99% of the duties, taxes and fees paid on the imported merchandise upon export, or when IRC taxes have been paid on substituted domestic product and the substituted merchandise is not the subject of a separate claim for refund or drawback of such taxes. CBP is also proposing to add a basic importation and entry bond condition to foster compliance with the amended drawback provision.
Read more here (with links to source documents).
The Homeland Security Department will spend $88 million in Recovery Act funds on scanning technology that will be used to inspect commercial goods crossing U.S. borders. The funds will contribute to eight contracts for nonintrusive inspection equipment that provide fixed and mobile detection capabilities for deployment at and between ports of entry by Customs and Border Control.
Similar equipment already is used to screen all rail traffic headed southbound to Mexico.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated almost $1 billion to CBP and the General Services Administration for port and border security projects, with $100 million dedicated to NII technologies, according to a press release from DHS.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
1. This memorandum explains the Canada Border Services Agency’s administrative policy regarding the tariff classification of gloves.
2. This memorandum has been updated from its original publication to reflect changes in the Customs Tariff legislation, and the Harmonized System Explanatory Notes. In addition, changes have been made to clarify the administrative policy outlined in some paragraphs of the memorandum.
The United States cannot agree to a deal in the Doha round of world trade talks until other countries make better offers to open their markets to services trade, the top U.S. trade official said on Tuesday.
“We know that the biggest gains to the global economy are likely to derive from multilateral services liberalization, but the offers on the table right now fail to deliver on that promise,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said at the Global Services Summit. “We have said flat-out that there will be no deal without a solid result on services which would result in new market opportunities, but we believe that a positive outcome is still achievable,” Kirk said.
The Doha round has focused “almost obsessively” on agricultural and manufacturing issues for the nearly eight years since it was launched on November 14, 2001, Kirk said. He told the group that a successful agreement must also include negotiations on services and the rules governing the use of anti-dumping and other domestic trade remedy laws. Read more here.
With the global recession making consumers and businesses more price-conscious, China is grabbing market share from its export competitors, solidifying a dominance in world trade that many economists say could last long after any economic recovery. China’s exports this year have already vaulted it past
Germany to become the world’s biggest exporter. Now, those market share gains are threatening to increase trade frictions with the United States and Europe. The European Commission proposed on Tuesday to extend antidumping duties on Chinese, as well as Vietnamese, shoe imports.
China is winning a larger piece of a shrinking pie. Although world trade declined this year because of the recession, consumers are demanding lower-priced goods and Beijing, determined to keep its export machine humming, is finding a way to deliver. The country’s factories are aggressively reducing prices – allowing China to gain ground in old markets and make inroads in new ones.
The most striking gains have come in the United States, where China has displaced Canada this year as the largest supplier of imports. In the first seven months of 2008, just under 15% of American imports came from China. Over the same period this year, 19% did. Meanwhile, Canada’s share of American imports fell to 14.5%, from nearly 17%. Read more here.
Mayors from coast to coast are being asked to wade into an anti-Buy American fight and appeal directly to their U.S. counterparts after one northern Ontario mayor’s efforts attracted national attention.
Victor Fedeli, the mayor of North Bay, Ont., sent letters earlier this month to the mayors of three U.S. cities where North Bay made large purchases recently, imploring them to think about the effect on their community if Canada succumbed to protectionism.
The Canadian Embassy in the U.S. was copied on those letters and Fedeli said officials there contacted him to say having 100 Canadian mayors on board will help build American-based political support for his position.
Letters from Canadian mayors and positive responses in the U.S. will be “one more tool in the arsenal” for officials working to get the Americans to soften their stance, Fedeli said in an interview.
“I think so many mayors have done so much hard work in the last six months that they’re close and I’m really, truly now hoping that this letter-writing campaign will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and common sense will take over,” Fedeli said. “I was naive to think that my letter alone was going to achieve any real goals. It’s going to take the strength of numbers.” Read more here.
Canada’s policies keep some farmers profitable, but could threaten export opportunities for other agricultural sectors
As negotiators prepare to begin talks with the European Union on the biggest economic agreement Canada has undertaken in decades, the government has already taken a big bargaining chip off the table. The message seems clear: supply management is not up for debate.
Only a handful of Canadian agriculture sectors – dairy, eggs and egg-hatching, chicken and turkey – are supply managed. Supply management assigns quotas to producers, managing production and keeping farmers profitable. However, it also keeps prices high for consumers and, most importantly from a bargaining perspective, represents a major barrier to foreign imports.
For a government that champions free trade and lowering barriers, the position seems dissonant. But because the farms that benefit from supply management are concentrated in Ontario and Quebec, where the majority of House of Commons seats are also concentrated, politicians of all stripes are loathe to mess with it. In fact, in 2005, members of Parliament went as far as to adopt an all-party motion instructing Canadian negotiators at the World Trade Organization not to budge on supply management. Read more here.
(Vancouver Sun – Fiona Anderson)
The federal government is providing almost $50 million to make truck and train traffic run more smoothly at Vancouver’s ports.
The sum – up to $49.7 million – is part of a $125-million upgrade that will add 11 overpasses – one on Powell Street in east Vancouver and the rest on port lands on the south side of Burrard Inlet – to improve rail and road access to the terminals. The improvements will also accommodate longer trains travelling through the port lands and lead to shorter wait times for trucks and other vehicles.
The remaining money for the projects will be provided by Port Metro Vancouver and local container and grain terminals, as well as the City of Vancouver and Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways.
These projects will not only improve the flow of traffic but will also create and sustain jobs “in the midst of the worst global recession in half a century,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper told a news conference at Ballantyne Pier. “They are as well laying the foundations for the longer-term prosperity of our country by creating the infrastructure that will strengthen our trading relationships with the rising economic powers of Asia,” Harper said. Read more here.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
China said on October 12 it would impose an anti-dumping tax of up to 37.5% on imports of polyamide-6/6 from five countries including the United States.
The tax would be effective for five years from October 13 after probes found "the domestic polyamide-6/6 industry suffered substantial damages" from "the dumping" of the imports, the commerce ministry said. Besides imports from the U.S., those from Italy, Britain, France and Taiwan will also be affected by the ruling, the ministry said.
Polyamide-6/6 is a chemical widely used in the manufacturing of plastics and textiles. Read more here.
Agency assures forwarders CBP is committed to automated manifest system despite delays
Customs and Border Protection’s advanced computer system for processing documentation is taking longer to develop and will cost more than anticipated, but completing development of the Automated Commercial Environment remains one of the agency’s top priorities.
“I can understand your frustration with ACE,” Thomas Winkowski, assistant commissioner of CBP, told Wesccon, the annual cargo conference of West Coast freight forwarders and customs brokers. The federal government in the past saw significant problems developing computer systems for the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Defense, but ACE will not meet the same fate as those troubled efforts. “ACE won’t be scrapped. There’s strong support for it on the Hill,” Winkowski told the Wesccon gathering in Rancho Mirage, Calif., over the weekend. Read more here.
Legislation introduced in the House and Senate October 8 seeks to enhance reciprocal market access for U.S. producers in the process of negotiating bilateral, regional and multilateral trade agreements. […]
The Reciprocal Market Access Act of 2009 would address this problem by prohibiting the president from agreeing to reduce or eliminate an import duty under a trade agreement until he/she certifies to Congress that:
(a) the U.S. has obtained the reduction or elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers and policies and practices with respect to U.S. exports of any product identified by domestic producers as having the same physical characteristics and uses as the product for which a modification of an existing duty is sought, and
(b) the U.S. can immediately respond to a violation of any provision of the trade agreement relating to the matters described in (a) by withdrawing the tariff concession on that product. Requests for such a withdrawal could be made by certain domestic manufacturers, labor unions and business associations, as well as by members of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees, and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative would be required to investigate such requests and issue a decision within 45 days. Read more here.
The federal and Manitoba governments have given CentrePort Canada a $3.5 million boost. The money will assist the corporation, which is gearing up to run an inland port, concentrating export-oriented manufacturing, warehousing and multi-modal distribution activities around the airport, with its start-up and operating costs.
Premier Gary Doer and Stockwell Day, minister of international trade and the Asia-Pacific Gateway, made the joint announcement Thursday evening at the Richardson International Airport.
They also announced a pair of pilot projects. The first, called the Canada-Manitoba CentrePort International Business Development Project will enable CentrePort to become Canada’s first foreign trade zone, a move designed to make it an attractive location for international trade and investment.
Read more here. View an image of the Pacific Gateway transport map here.
Canada's dollar opened official trading Tuesday morning at 97.13 cents US. That's up nearly one and a half cents from Friday, ahead of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Experts say a weak U.S. dollar is driving up demand for oil and other commodities, which, in turn, is giving the loonie a boost as it is regarded as a commodity-linked currency by global traders.
While a stronger Canadian dollar is generally good for travellers headed for U.S. destinations, it makes life more difficult for companies that export to the United States or sell goods on the world markets. Canada's export-based industries, particularly the auto and forestry sectors, suffered as the loonie soared above parity with the U.S. dollar in 2007 for the first time in decades.
Judge not impressed by behaviour at border
Border guards are trying to determine what’s on a laptop computer seized from an American man who refused to give them access to encrypted information stored on the device.
Carl David Todaro, 38, of Clarks Summit, Pa., was arrested by a Canada Border Services Agency officer Wednesday afternoon after he tried to cross into Canada at the Houlton-Woodstock port of entry.
Todaro, who will be barred from re-entering Canada, appeared in provincial court Thursday afternoon and pleaded guilty to hindering a Canada Border Services Agency officer.
He was fined $1,000 and had his computer and two external hard drives seized for further inspection.
“The results of the examination will be turned over to U.S. authorities,’’ said federal Crown prosecutor David Hitchcock. Read more here.
The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) applauded the U.S. Attorney'sOffice for the District of Columbia’s announcement of arrests and indictmentsinvolving counterfeit semiconductors. “Semiconductor counterfeiting is fraud, pure and simple,” said SIA PresidentGeorge Scalise. “Today’s law enforcement actions should send a clear message tothose who traffic in counterfeit semiconductors that this illegal activity willnot be tolerated. The SIA will work with governments around the world to ensurethe integrity of semiconductor markets. Electronic equipment manufacturers canalso combat counterfeiting by purchasing semiconductors only from trustedsources,” Scalise added.
SIA formed an Anticounterfeiting Task Force in 2006 to address the growingproblem of semiconductor counterfeiting. The Task Force’s work with U.S. Customsand Border Protection led to the seizure of 780,000 counterfeit semiconductorsin two operations in 2007 and 2008. Task Force assistance with law enforcementofficials to arrest suspected traffickers in counterfeit semiconductors opens anew front on the war against counterfeits. Last week’s action involvedImmigration Customs Enforcement, Naval Criminal Investigative Service, andInternal Revenue Service as well as the Department of Justice. If convicted, thedefendants in the case could face a likely sentence of 63-78 months in prison,as well as forfeiture and restitution.
Read more here and here.
A group of House Republicans turned up their criticism of the Buy American provisions in the $787 billion economic stimulus package, warning that critical infrastructure projects are being delayed and the U.S. is increasingly at risk of retaliation by its trading partners.
The lawmakers, holding a roundtable with like-minded industry groups Thursday, called on the Obama administration to take action to ensure the provisions, designed to spark job creation at home-grown companies, don’t have unintended consequences.
“There’s a reasonable solution here, which is for the Office of Management and Budget to issue final guidance that exempts states and localities from these onerous provisions,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. Read more here.
Carriers in the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) are seeking major general rate increases in their 2010 contract renegotiations with shippers. The lines are seeking US$400 per TEU from Asia to the U.S. west coast, $500 per TEU on Asia to the U.S. east and Gulf coasts, and a $200 peak-season surcharge to come into effect at the beginning of next August. Read more here.
Health Canada released its guidance document The Use of Probiotic Microorganisms in Food on April 22, 2009. This document provides guidance on the use of health claims for probiotics, as well as guidance on the safety, quality (stability), and labelling requirements for foods containing probiotic microorganisms.
To assist industry in the application of this guidance document, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has updated Chapter 8, Health Claims , in the Guide to Food Labelling and Advertising (Guide) to reflect Health Canada’s new guidance on probiotics. The updated Guide also includes a list of probiotic claims that are considered acceptable on food, without the need for further substantiation by the manufacturer or importer, along with conditions for their use.
It is the responsibility of all manufacturers and importers to ensure that their products comply with all relevant Canadian legislation. Labels, advertisements and web sites are expected to be in compliance with this new guidance on probiotics within 6 months of the date of publication of this letter. Products which do not meet the requirements at that time may be subject to enforcement action by the CFIA. However, immediate correction is expected in the case of food products containing probiotics that are represented for therapeutic use (i.e. carrying drug claims) of the label, advertisement or web site, wherever such a claim appears.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
The United States is falling behind other countries in developing and manufacturing green technologies and will continue to do so unless the federal government provides financial incentives to American companies and changes domestic trade laws, according to a panel of government and industry experts that testified before Congress on Wednesday.
The U.S. trade balance in green technologies fell from a $12 billion surplus in 1997 to an $8.9 billion deficit in 2008, according to the New America Foundation, a nonprofit public policy think tank.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, referenced the statistic in his opening statement during a hearing on Wednesday. He also noted that only six of the top 30 green technology companies worldwide are American.
"Through insufficient investment and lack of policy leadership, the U.S. continues to lose ground to countries willing to back their companies with capital and create incentives" that support the development of green technologies, said Andrea Larson, an associate professor at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. "First we must get our own house in order. It is only then that we will have built the necessary platform for leadership in world trade."
Larson acknowledged that the United States declared in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to have 25% of the nation's energy demands supplied by renewable sources by 2025. But she said, "We come to the table late. Read more here.
Despite new disclosure rules that require more specifics from lobbyists who are pushing for tariff measures, watchdog groups complain that it is still too hard for the public to determine which companies are seeking these lucrative trade breaks.
The Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House recently announced changes to the Lobbying Disclosure Act that will require companies or firms to list tariffs rather than more general tax or trade categories when filling out the quarterly disclosure forms.
The increased transparency comes as a key Congressional committee gears up to consider a miscellaneous tariff suspension measure that would provide relief to certain industries that import products into the United States. But critics say that even with the increased reporting, it will still be challenging for those not schooled in the nuances of legislative language to easily identify the industries that will benefit from tariff legislation.
Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation, said lawmakers still should be required to include in the legislation more specifics about who the beneficiaries are. “You are not going to have a simple chart with the name of the sponsor, the beneficiary and whether or not the beneficiary lobbied. You are still going to have to go to two or three places to gather all that information,” he said. Read more here.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk today [Wednesday] issued a statement regarding Canada's request to establish a dispute settlement panel at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to review their claims in a dispute regarding country of origin labeling (COOL) required by the 2008 Farm Bill for certain agricultural products. The panel request will be considered at the October 23, 2009, meeting of the WTO's Dispute Settlement Body.
From Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Kirk:
"We regret that formal consultations have not been successful in resolving Canada's concerns over country of origin labeling (COOL) required by the 2008 Farm Bill for certain agricultural products.
"We believe that our implementation of COOL provides information to consumers in a manner consistent with our World Trade Organization commitments.
"Countries have agreed since long before the existence of the WTO that country of origin labeling is a legitimate policy. It is common for other countries to require that goods be labeled as to their origin.
"We hope to continue to work with Canada to resolve this issue amicably."
The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) mandates country-of-origin labeling (COOL) at the retail level for beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, perishable agricultural commodities, and certain nuts as of September 30, 2008. The statute sets out four categories of country of origin for meat: A) exclusively U.S. origin; B) multiple countries of origin; C) animals imported for immediate slaughter; and D) exclusively foreign origin. On August 1, 2008, USDA published an Interim Final Rule to implement the COOL statutory requirements. On December 1, 2008, Canada requested WTO dispute settlement consultations on the COOL interim rule, and Mexico similarly requested consultations on December 17, 2008. Pursuant to a January 7, 2009 procedural agreement, Canada committed not to pursue WTO dispute settlement until September 2009 if the Final Rule contained certain flexibilities in meat labeling. On January 15, 2009, USDA published the Final Rule on COOL. On February 20, 2009, Secretary Vilsack announced that the Final Rule would take effect as originally scheduled on March 16, 2009. Canada and Mexico sent a new consultations request regarding the Final Rule to the United States on May 7, 2009.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Canada’s mayors have shelved, for now, a resolution that had threatened to block U.S. companies from bidding on city contracts in response to the “Buy American” push in the United States.
Reports of progress between the U.S and Canada over the controversial provision in the U.S. stimulus package prompted the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to withdraw the threat. “We are encouraged by the talks now underway between Canadian and U.S. officials and want to give them the time and space to reach a successful outcome,” federation president Basil Stewart said Saturday. “These talks can and should lead to a fair and mutually beneficial agreement.”
The move follows a CBC News report that a deal is in the works to exempt Canada from the provision. In return, Canada would announce its provincial and municipal doors are wide open to U.S. companies.
The resolution was passed in June at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ conference in Whistler, B.C., by a vote of 189-175. It said the federation should support cities that adopt policies allowing them to buy only from companies whose home countries don’t impose trade restrictions against Canadian goods. The action was to take effect Sunday.
Federation vice-president Berry Vrbanovic said he does not believe suspension of the deadline will remove pressure on the U.S. as the mayors are leaving the door open to reconsider it if a deal is not reached.
The “Buy American” provision gives priority to U.S. iron, steel and other manufactured goods for use in state-level and municipal public works and building projects funded with taxpayer stimulus money.
Canadian governments and businesses have railed against the policy, arguing it violates the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Postponement until Nov.1 to give companies time to prepare
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced that an inspection fee increase will be delayed until November 1. The agency previously announced that the increase would take effect October 1. The delay will give companies that pay the fees more time to prepare for the new fees, APHIS said.
Last week APHIS announced agricultural quarantine and inspection fee increases averaging 10%. The agency said the increases were necessary to offset the loss of revenue due to reduced traffic volume at the border.
The announcement is in last week’s Federal Register.
To promote strong and effective border enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and customs officials from the European Union have jointly developed a brochure and Web toolkit to assist trademark and copyright owners in preparing information to help U.S. and EU customs agencies determine whether goods are counterfeit or pirated.
Customs officials from the U.S. and EU announced joint publication of these two documents at a U.S.-EU IPR working group meeting held last week at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The meeting attendees included representatives from U.S. and European industry and trade associations, and officials from the U.S. government including the United States Trade Representative, Department of Commerce, Department of State, Library of Congress Copyright Office, CBP and EU officials from the Directorate Generals of Trade, Enterprise, and the Customs Union.
The U.S.-EU brochure titled “Protecting Intellectual Property Rights at Our Borders” is a brochure of basic information for trademark and copyright owners on working with customs officials in the U.S. and the EU. It provides them with information on how to protect themselves from the serious global problem of counterfeiting and piracy. Suggested protection includes the registration and recording of IPR, product identification training guides, and sharing of intelligence on suspect shipments.
The joint customs Web toolkit provides a single set of guidelines for trademark and copyright owners to design web-based product to determine whether goods are counterfeit or pirated. These toolkits provide information to customs officials to assist them in determining whether suspect shipments are counterfeit or pirated.
Other joint projects include Operation Infrastructure, the first joint IPR border enforcement operation undertaken by U.S. and EU customs authorities. The operation fulfilled a key deliverable of the U.S.-EU IPR Action Strategy. Targeting semiconductors and network hardware, the operation ran from November 26, 2007 through December 14, 2007, and resulted in the seizures of more than 360,000 counterfeit integrated circuits and computer network components bearing more than 40 different companies’ trademarks.
Officials are continuing discussions on future joint operations. For more information visit the CBP website
Importers urge congress to complete legislation by year-end
The Senate Finance Committee belatedly kicked its miscellaneous tariff bill into gear, and is making up for lost time. Senators will have until October 30 to file requests for duty reductions or suspensions on specific imported products that have no equivalent manufacturer in the United States.
The miscellaneous tariff bill is normally routine and non-controversial legislation, but that changed this year due to the Senate’s late start. Last July, the Tariff Action Coalition, which consists of eight companies seeking action on imports, urged Congress to move forward quickly with the MTB. If a new bill is not signed into law by December 31, importers will lose some $500 million in tariff breaks now on the books. In comparison, the House has nearly completed work on its version of the bill, the coalition said. Read more here.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is modernizing its import control processes by consolidating its three import service centres (ISC) in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver into one National Import Service Centre (NISC), to be located in Toronto.
The NISC will be officially launched on October 5, 2009 and is expected to be fully functional by July 15, 2010. In the interim, you will continue to conduct business with the existing ISC in Montreal Toronto and Vancouver until further notice.
The CFIA will continue to provide front-line screening to ensure that imported products meet Canadian requirements. Regulatory compliance and the safety of food and agricultural commodities imported into Canada are a priority for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The creation of a National Import Service Centre will provide the following enhanced services:
• A single window for issues related to import transactions and documentation• Increased bilingual service to 24 hours, seven days a week from the existing 20 hours, seven days a week
• Increased consistency in the review of import documentation and verification of import admissibility
• Improved alignment with the services delivered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)
he CFIA is committed to maintaining established service standards with minimal disruption to clients during this transition and will be providing updates to stakeholders as work progresses.
In order to avoid any confusion, I would like to clarify a couple of points from our Fact Sheet.
1) The national Import Service Centre will not be offering 24 hour - 7 day a week service until July, 2010. 24 / 7 service will require major changes to our operations and we want to establish a fully-functioning Centre with sufficient staff and resources to ensure a smooth transition and to avoid any problems which may be encountered with an extended service.
2) Although the National Import Service Centre will be officially launched on October 5, 2009, it will not be fully functional until July, 2010. Until that time the existing Import Service Centres in Montreal and Vancouver will continue to operate. Until their closure (by July, 2010) you should continue to deal with whatever Import Service Centre you would have normally dealt with.
I hope that this serves to clarify any questions you may have had. If not please do not hesitate to contact me.
Import Control Division
Phone: 613.773.5325 • Fax: 613.773-5389
Another day, another dollar due at the border. That’s the way it seems these days at the Canada/U.S. border and the Canadian Trucking Trucking Alliance is now taking aim at a proposed 14% increase to the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Fee.
The CTA referred to the U.S. APHIS fee increase as “ludicruous.” Under the proposal, commercial truck user fees will go from US$5.25 to $6 per trip and the commercial truck transponders will rise in cost from US$105 per year to $120.
The changes were initially slated to kick in October 1, but have been delayed until November 1. The U.S. is justifying the fee increases by saying they’re necessary to offset lost revenue due to declining border traffic. It would mark the first fee hike since 2005, the U.S. points out.
“Introducing APHIS fees in the first place on all trucks entering the United States whether they are carrying agricultural products or not was nothing but a cash grab,” countered CTA chief David Bradley.
“This increase and the rationale for the increase are both ludicrous.”
“To acknowledge that trade is down, you would think that the folks at APHIS might have also acknowledged that this is a reflection of the recession and the impact of the thickening of the border for legitimate trade,” added Bradley. “Instead they increase their fees; incredible.”
Bradley is urging the rest of the trade community to join CTA in opposing the fee increases.
Friday, October 2, 2009
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative indicated this week that the U.S. will continue to impose a 10% duty on imports of softwood lumber from four Canadian provinces after an international tribunal rejected Ottawa’s attempt to remedy a violation of the 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement by making a lump sum payment to Washington. The duty was imposed in April but USTR did not indicate how much longer it will remain in effect.
Under the SLA, which aimed to resolve a long-running dispute between the two countries, Canada agreed to impose export measures on shipments of softwood lumber products to the U.S. When the prevailing monthly price of lumber is above $355 per thousand board feet (MBF), Canadian lumber exports are unrestricted. When prices are at or below $355 per MBF, each Canadian exporting region is subject to either an export tax with a soft volume cap or a lower export tax with a hard volume cap, and these measures become more stringent as the market price declines. The SLA includes an adjustment mechanism to ensure that the export volume caps are calculated appropriately under rapidly changing market conditions.
Read more here.
The U.S. needs to stimulate exports of machinery and other manufactured goods as part of a larger effort to regain factory jobs lost in this recession, says John Engler, president of the National Association of Manufacturers.
Calculations by the nation’s largest manufacturing trade group show the U.S. ranks last among the world’s 15 largest manufacturers in terms of “export intensity.” Rather than measuring raw export numbers, export intensity gauges the proportion of the nation’s manufacturing production that is exported.
Export powerhouses Germany and Taiwan top the list. But others, including Brazil, Turkey and Spain, also exceed the U.S. in terms of the proportion of their goods that are exported.
“If we could simply get exports up to the world average – which is a little more than two times where it is – we could eliminate the trade deficit,” says Mr. Engler. The NAM favors a variety of measures, including tax relief and other support for domestic production, such as greater federal support for export promotion. Read more here.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Crisis brought on a torrent of public stimulus announcements last year. Plans are being implemented, and the impact on growth is huge. But in the rush to declare the recession over, there is also concern that stimulus not be withdrawn too quickly. Good advice, given the math of stimulus spending.
Add it all up, and one thing is clear: total stimulus is big. For OECD nations as a whole, pump-priming measures sum to just under 4% of GDP. The big spenders are South Korea, at 6.1% of GDP, the US at 5.6% and Australia at 5.4%. Canada matches the G-7 average, at 4.1%. But once again, the high drama is in certain key emerging markets. China’s splashy $586 billion stimulus plan is a whopping 13% of GDP, and South Africa’s, a staggering 30% of its GDP. Not new info, but still amazing.
Read more or watch the video here.
As more and more commerce is conducted online, it has become increasingly important to monitor the Internet for activities that infringe a company’s intellectually property rights. In fact, the ease with which electronic material can be copied, coupled with an attitude of indifference amongst many online operators regarding the legality of their activities, makes the Internet a zone that is particularly ripe for infringement.
Once a brand is recognized to have value, it is inevitable that unauthorized third parties will do what they can to make money from it on the Internet. By now, most companies have registered for themselves an Internet address (referred to as a “URL” or domain name”) that has as its dominant or only element their key brand or trade-mark (e.g., http://mccarthy.ca ), and are using this address to post a website that promotes their business. However, brand owners need to be aware that the more successful their online presence, the more likely it is that someone is seeking to trade on the Internet traffic looking for the brand owner’s site.
Cyber-squatting is the term used to describe the registration of a domain name that incorporates the trade-mark of another. Although many Internet users rely on search engines (such as Google and Yahoo) to locate a website, studies show that a significant number of Internet users look for a website by way of “direct navigation,” i.e., by guessing at the Internet address and typing it into their web browser. Where a brand allows for multiple logical formulations of a website address (e.g., www.mccarthy.ca, www.mccarthys.ca, or www.mccarthytetrault.ca), the potential for exploitation by unauthorized parties abounds. The typos that inevitably occur when Internet users attempt to type a brand name into their browser (e.g., www.mcarthy.ca) provide another opportunity for brand exploitation (sometimes referred to as “typo-squatting”).
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