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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                           

July 6, 2018

Contact: USTR Public & Media Affairs

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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:

  • The public will have 90 days to file a request for a product exclusion; the request period will end on October 9, 2018.
  • Following public posting of the filed request on Regulations.gov, the public will have 14 days to file responses to the request for product exclusion.  After the close of the 14 day response period, interested persons will have an additional 7 days to reply to any responses received in support of or opposition to the request.
  • Exclusions will be effective forone year upon the publication of the exclusion determination in the Federal Register, and will apply retroactively to July 6, 2018.

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.

“You have to have a ‘yes or no’ option,” Austrian Max Schrems said before filing complaints in European jurisdictions. “A lot of these companies now force you to consent to the new privacy policy, which is totally against the law.”

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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DATA PORTABILITY
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.

Published at Reuters.com on February 7, 2018. Writing by Philip Blenkinsop.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Mexico believes it can conclude a new free-trade agreement with the European Union before the end of February, a Mexican official close to the talks said on Wednesday.

The EU and Mexico intend to update a trade deal agreed 21 years ago that largely covers industrial goods. They want to add farm products, more services, investment and government procurement, and include provisions on labor standards and environmental protection.

Mexican negotiators are in Brussels this week, with the two sides due to reconvene next week in Mexico.

The Mexican official said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom could come in the week starting Feb. 19 to help push talks to a close and to allow an initial deal to be announced, though only if a deal was within reach.

For full article: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-mexico-trade/mexico-aims-for-eu-free-trade-deal-by-end-of-february-idUSKBN1FR1T1

Published at Reuters.com on January 23, 2018. Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Susan Thomas

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canada said on Tuesday it would sign onto a revised 11-member Asia-Pacific trade pact after pushing to secure a better deal, underpinning a government drive to diversify exports amid doubts over NAFTA. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos that he helped push for an improved deal, showing how important the trade file has become for him personally.

But a major labor union and a group representing auto parts manufacturers said the deal would cause job losses.

Trade officials signed off on a final text earlier in the day after a meeting in Tokyo to overcome challenges such as Canada’s insistence on protection of its cultural industries.

For full article: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-trade-tpp-japan-canada/canada-to-sign-pacific-trade-deal-labor-and-auto-sectors-fume-idUSKBN1FC1R9

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