Working with the US Commercial Service to promote exports through business counseling, education, and community outreach.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2018
Contact: USTR Public & Media Affairs
Published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative at https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2018/august/modernizing-nafta-be-21st-century
The United States and Mexico have reached an agreement on a modernized, high-standard Intellectual Property (IP) chapter that provides strong and effective protection and enforcement of IP rights critical to driving innovation, creating economic growth, and supporting American jobs.
Key Achievement: Most Comprehensive Enforcement Provisions of Any Trade Agreement
For the first time, a trade agreement will require all of the following:
Key Achievement: Strongest Standards for Trade Secrets of Any United States FTA
This deal, if finalized, will be the first FTA to require all of the following to protect United States rightsholders from theft of trade secrets, including by state-owned enterprises: civil remedies, criminal remedies, prohibition on impeding licensing of trade secrets, protections for trade secrets during the litigation process, and penalties for government officials who wrongfully disclose trade secrets.
Key Highlights: Protections for Innovators
The new IP Chapter will:
The new Digital Trade chapter contains the strongest disciplines on digital trade of any international agreement, providing a firm foundation for the expansion of trade and investment in the innovative products and services where the United States has a competitive advantage.
Key Highlights of the Digital Trade Chapter
The new Digital Trade chapter will:
Key Achievement: Increased De Minimis Shipment Value Level
To facilitate greater cross-border trade, the United States has reached an agreement for Mexico to raise its de minimis shipment value level to $100 USD, up from $50 USD. Shipment values up to this level would enter Mexico without customs duties or taxes, and with minimal formal entry procedures, making it easier for more businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, to be a part of cross-border trade.
Increasing the de minimis level with a key trading partner like Mexico is a critical outcome for United States small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These SMEs often lack resources to pay customs duties and taxes, and bear the increased compliance costs that low, trade-restrictive de minimis levels place on lower-value shipments, which SMEs often have due to their smaller trade volumes.
New traders, just entering Mexico’s market, will also benefit from lower costs to reach consumers. United States express delivery carriers, who carry many low-value shipments for these traders, also stand to benefit through lower costs and improved efficiency.
United States financial services firms provide services critical to every sector of the economy, including small- and medium-sized businesses. The United States exported about $115 billion in financial services in 2016, generating around a $41 billion surplus in trade in financial services.
The updated Financial Services chapter includes commitments to liberalize financial services markets and facilitate a level playing field for United States financial institutions, investors and investments in financial institutions, and cross-border trade in financial services.
Key Achievement: Core Obligations to Prevent Discrimination Against Financial Services Suppliers
The chapter includes core obligations, such as:
Key Achievement: First Provision Against Unnecessary Local Data Storage Requirements
For the first time in any United States trade agreement, this deal includes a prohibition on local data storage requirements in circumstances where a financial regulator has the access to data that it needs to fulfill its regulatory and supervisory mandate.
Key Highlights Supporting Financial Services
The new Financial Services chapter will include:
One of President Trump’s principal objectives in the renegotiation is to ensure the agreement benefits American workers. The United States and Mexico have agreed to a Labor chapter that brings labor obligations into the core of the agreement, makes them fully enforceable, and represents the strongest provisions of any trade agreement.
Key Achievement: Worker Representation in Collective Bargaining
The Labor chapter includes an Annex on Worker Representation in Collective Bargaining in Mexico, under which Mexico commits to specific legislative actions to provide for the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining.
Key Achievement: Labor Rights Recognized by the International Labor Organization
The Labor chapter requires the Parties to adopt and maintain in law and practice labor rights as recognized by the International Labor Organization, to effectively enforce their labor laws, and not to waive or derogate from their labor laws.
Additionally, the chapter includes new provisions to take measures to prohibit the importation of goods produced by forced labor, to address violence against workers exercising their labor rights, and to ensure that migrant workers are protected under labor laws.
Key Achievement: New Labor Value Content Rule
To support North American jobs, the deal requires new trade rules of origin to drive higher wages by requiring that 40-45 percent of auto content be made by workers earning at least $16 USD per hour.
The United States and Mexico have agreed to the most advanced, most comprehensive, highest-standard chapter on the Environment of any trade agreement. Like the Labor chapter, the Environment chapter brings all environmental provisions into the core of agreement and makes them enforceable.
Key Achievement: Most Comprehensive Set of Enforceable Environmental Obligations
The Environment chapter includes the most comprehensive set of enforceable environmental obligations of any previous United States agreement, including obligations to combat trafficking in wildlife, timber, and fish; to strengthen law enforcement networks to stem such trafficking; and to address pressing environmental issues such as air quality and marine litter
Environment obligations include:
Published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at https://www.uschamber.com/tariffs?iesrc=ctr
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2018
Contact: USTR Public & Media Affairs
Washington, DC– The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) today announced a process to obtain product exclusions from the additional tariffs in effect on certain products imported from China under the U.S. response to China’s unfair trade practices related to the forced transfer of U.S. technology and intellectual property.
Today, additional tariffs of 25 percent come into effect for Chinese products imported under 818 tariff lines, covering a trade value of approximately $34 billion in 2018. These tariff lines contain products identified as benefiting from China’s industrial policies, including the “Made in China 2025” program. The list of products subject to tariffs was determined by a 90-day process that included public hearings and a notice and comment period.
USTR is providing an opportunity for the public to request exclusion of a particular product from the additional duties to address situations that warrant excluding a particular product within a subheading, but not the tariff subheading as a whole.
A Federal Register notice outlining the criteria and process for a product exclusion request will be published, and public requests, responses, and replies will be received via Regulations.gov. In making its determination on each request, USTR may consider whether a product is available from a source outside of China, whether the additional duties would cause severe economic harm to the requestor or other U.S. interests, and whether the particular product is strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs including “Made in China 2025”.
The exclusion process has the following important dates and features:
Because exclusions will be made on a product basis, a particular exclusion will apply to all imports of the product, regardless of whether the importer filed a request. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will apply the tariff exclusions based on the product.
The tariff action on China is part of USTR’s Section 301 investigation and follows President Trump’s announcement in March that the United States would impose tariffs on Chinese imports and take other actions in response to China’s policies that coerce American companies into transferring their technology and intellectual property to Chinese enterprises. These policies bolster China’s stated intention of seizing economic leadership in advanced technology as set forth in its industrial plans, such as “Made in China 2025.”
The text of the Federal Register notice can be viewed here. Formal publication of the Federal Register notice will occur next week.
Published at Reuters.com on May 25, 2018. Reporting by Julia Fioretti
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - New European privacy regulations went into effect on Friday that will force companies to be more attentive to how they handle customer data.
The ramifications were visible from day one, with major U.S.-media outlets including the LA Times and Chicago Tribune were forced to shutter their websites in parts of Europe.
People in the bloc have been bombarded with dozens of emails asking for their consent to keep processing their data, and a privacy activist wasted no time in taking action against U.S. tech giants for allegedly acting illegally by forcing users to accept intrusive terms of service or lose access.
The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the bloc’s patchwork of rules dating back to 1995 and heralds an era where breaking privacy laws can result in fines of up to 4 percent of global revenue or 20 million euros ($23.5 million), whichever is higher, as opposed to a few hundred thousand euros.
European privacy regulators signalled that they were ready to flex their muscles but were not “sanctioning machines”.
“This (forced consent) is an issue that we will be looking at immediately, and work is already underway,” said Helen Dixon, head of the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, which will be responsible for policing U.S. giants Facebook (FB.O) and Google (GOOGL.O), among others.
Many privacy advocates have hailed the new law as a model for personal data protection in the internet era and called on other countries to follow the European model.
Critics say the new rules are overly burdensome, especially for small businesses, while advertisers and publishers worry it will make it harder for them to find customers.
The GDPR clarifies and strengthens existing individual rights, such as the right to have one’s data erased and the right to ask a company for a copy of one’s data.
But it also includes entirely new mandates, such as the right to transfer data from one service provider to another and the right to restrict companies from using personal data.
“It’s a gradual and not a revolutionary kind of thing ... However for many companies it was a huge wakeup call because they never did their homework. They never took the data protection directive seriously,” said Patrick Van Eecke, partner at law firm DLA Piper.
Activists are already planning to use the right to access their data to turn the tables on internet platforms whose model relies on processing people’s personal information.
That means companies have had to put in place processes for dealing with such requests and educating their workforce because any non-compliance could lead to stiff sanctions.
Studies suggest that many companies are not ready for the new rules. The International Association of Privacy Professionals found that only 40 percent of companies affected by the GDPR expected to be fully compliant by May 25.
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It is unclear how many provisions of GDPR will be interpreted and enforced. European regulatory authorities, many of whom say they are under-funded, will oversee the new law, with a central body to resolve conflicts.
One key provision of GDPR, the right to data portability, is causing particular confusion.
“I think the data portability rights are pretty significant and are going to take a while for people to figure out what the bounds of them are and how to go about complying with them,” said David Hoffman, associate general counsel and global privacy officer at Intel.
For example, music streaming services such as Spotify create playlists for users based on their music preferences. While a user seeking to exercise the data portability right would be able to move playlists he or she created, the situation becomes fuzzy if the playlists are created by the streaming service using algorithms.
EU data protection authorities said individuals should be able to transfer data provided by them but not “derived data” created by the service provider such as algorithmic results.
“It’s not obvious that you can necessarily migrate the data from your system to somebody else’s system,” Tanguy Van Overstraeten, of Linklaters, said.
On the business side, companies are rushing to renegotiate contracts with suppliers and service providers because GDPR increases their liability if something goes wrong.
Data processors which only process or store the data on behalf of their clients, for example cloud computing providers, will be directly liable for sanctions and could face lawsuits from individuals, and that needs to be reflected in contracts.
Published at Reuters.com on March 9, 2018. Reporting by Daniela Desantis; Writing by Luc Cohen
ASUNCION (Reuters) - South American trade bloc Mercosur formally launched discussions for a trade deal with Canada on Friday, in a move officials said would signal an embrace of free trade at a time other countries are moving toward protectionist policies.
For Canada, the talks with the group, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, come at a time when the future of NAFTA is facing increasing uncertainty.
U.S. President Donald Trump exempted Canada and Mexico from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, though the White House tied the exemption to NAFTA talks. Mexico told Reuters on Thursday it would not yield to pressure.
“We are sending a message to the world,” Canada’s trade minister, François-Philippe Champagne, said at a meeting in Paraguay’s capital. On Thursday, Champagne was in Santiago for the signing of an Asia-Pacific trade deal without the United States, which withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year.
Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga said the first meetings would take place later this month in Ottawa, and Uruguayan Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said he expected the pact to close by the end of the year.
The move comes as Mercosur is also seeking to sign a free trade deal with the European Union. The prolonged negotiations had been expected to come to an end last year, but have dragged on amid resistance from European farmers to increased imports of South American beef and biofuels.
Mercosur is the fourth-largest trade bloc in the world, encompassing a population of 260 million. Canada’s overall bilateral trade with Mercosur is worth C$8 billion ($6.24 billion) per year, compared with C$48 billion for the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile - all of which have free trade deals with Canada.