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White House Tackles Port Security

PRC-manufactured ship-to-shore cranes account for nearly 80 percent of cranes at U.S. ports.
The White house announced initiatives to improve the cyber security of the US Port infrastructire, with enhanced authorities for the Coast Guard to inspect vessels and write minimum cybersecurity rules.   Additionally, the administration will invest over $20 billion to subsidize the manufacture of cranes in the US and Korea, to reduce a dependance on Chinese supply. There are no plans to replace the over 200 Chinese cranes already in place.

Seized Machine Tool Funds to Ukraine Reconstruction

Nearly $500,000 of forfeited proceeds of an illicit machine tool sale to Russian buyers will be used to support a drone-based program to assess the damage Russian aggression has done to Ukraine’s electrical distribution and transmission infrastructure. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and Estonian Secretary General Tõnis Saar announced  the transfer at the Munich Security Conference Saturday Feb 17.

Volkswagen Uyghur Customs Jam

Volkswagen said Tuesday that  U.S. Customs had detained several thousand Bentley, Porsche and Audi vehicles at ports because the cars contained a part made by a Chinese supplier on a sanctions list for using forced labor in Xinjiang. The automaker describes the part's origin as a "sub-supplier," meaning a supplier to one of its suppliers—an entity far down the supply chain. Last year VW committed to conducting a supply chain audit for exposure to modern slavery.

Gallagher Throws in the Towel

Rep. Mike Gallagher, the most strident anti-communist to come out of Wisconsin's Fox River Valley since Sen. Joseph McCarthy, has had enough of the House of Representatives.    Mr. Gallagher told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he will leave Congress at the end of his current term to enter the private sector and spend more time with his young family.  

Welcome to Your WTTL

The Washington Tariff and Trade Letter introduces a web-based format for easier review, research and sharing.  Clicking on a story in the newsletter will now bring you to the full text on our new web site. A .pdf version of the newsletter is available below.   For any questions about website access and your subscription, please contact us at Info@TradeRegs.com – Or call the Editor, Frank Ruffing, at +1.703.283.5220

The latest news
Butterfish

OFAC Russian Seafood Temporary G/L

The Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is issuing Russia-related General License 83A, "Authorizing Certain Transactions Related to Imports of Certain Categories of Fish, Seafood, and Preparations Thereof Prohibited by Executive Order 14068." The General License permits importation into the United States of seafood derivative products that were loaded onto a vessel at the port of loading prior to  February 20, 2024, pursuant to written contracts agreements entered into prior to December 22, 2023, are authorized through May 31, 2024.

FinCEN Small Entity BOI Disclosure Guidance

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published a small entity compliance guide today that provides an overview of the requirements regarding access to beneficial ownership information (BOI) by small entities. The guide includes sections summarizing the Access Rule’s requirements that pertain to small financial institutions’ access to BOI. 
More trade & tariff news
Marking the one-year anniversary of the Disruptive Technology Strike Force, the Departments of Justice and Commerce released a joint fact sheet touting their accomplishments. The Task force initiated 14 cases involving alleged sanctions and export control violations, smuggling conspiracies, and other offenses related to the unlawful transfer of sensitive information, goods, and military-grade technology to Russia, China, or Iran. These cases were brought through the work of U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the country and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section in Justice Department’s National Security Division.
United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai called Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Raquel Buenrostro Friday to   discuss the steel and aluminum trade between the two countries.   During the meeting, Ambassador Tai stressed the "urgent need for Mexico to take immediate and meaningful steps" to address US concerns.
A Florida couple were both sentenced to 57 months in prison for illegally importing and selling between $25 million and $65 million worth of plywood products in violation of the Lacey Act and customs laws.  The defendants engaged in a sophisticated scheme to evade antidumping and countervailing duties owed on hardwood plywood products made in China by falsely declaring the species, country of origin or country of harvest of the wood from which the plywood was made.
February 15, the DOJ unsealed charges against Mauricio Gomez Baez, former Senior Vice President of Stericycle LATAM Between 2011 and 2016, Mr. Gomez Baez, a Mexican citizen and resident of Miami conspired with other Stericycle employees and agents to pay approximately $10.5 million in bribes to Mexican, Brazilian, and Argentinian government officials in order to obtain government contracts for medical waste collection for Stericycle.
Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard on 12 February outlined priorities for the WTO’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) at the 2024 Washington International Trade Conference, organized by the …
On the calendar
Senior trade officials have wrapped up the first meeting of the Council on Trade and Competitiveness under the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity. Trade officials, who met in Santo Domingo, established committees on Trade Rules and Transparency, Trade and Sustainable Value and Supply Chains and Inclusive Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises.
The United States and five other countries have agreed to extend their political compromise on digital services taxation. The extension means that the US Trade Representative’s Office will …
The House approved legislation (HR 7176) to reverse President Biden’s decision to put a pause on new approvals of liquified natural gas exports. The measure takes away authority from the Energy Department to approve LNG exports, leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with the sole power to approve LNG projects.
House Ways and Means trade subcommittee ranking Democrat Earl Blumenauer (Ore) said yesterday he believes it is “highly likely” the House will take up China legislation this year that includes addressing the de minimis loophole. Closing the de minimis loophole is his biggest trade priority, Rep. Blumenauer, who has announced his plans to retire from Congress after this year, told a program sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The chair for the Doha agriculture trade negotiations Ambassador Alparslan Acarsoy of Türkiye Friday issued a draft text for the World Trade Organization’s 13th ministerial conference, …
A Jamaica, NY freight forwarder settled with the Bureau of Industry and Security for facilitating the export of enterprise servers and switches from the US to Iran without the required US government authorization. The settlement calls for a two-year suspended denial of its export privileges, thereafter waived, provided no futher violations and completion of compliance training.
Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson will travel to European capitals this week to coordinate the allied response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Nelson's schedule includes the Munich Security Conference, meetings in Brussels with EU counterparts, and in Paris the Plenary of the Financial Action Task Force.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) reappointed 14 members for the 17th term. Additional 17th term COAC appointments will be made and announced at a later date. 
Mayorkas delivered the keynote address to the Munich Cyber Security Conference. "The world is on the cusp of a new era in the digital revolution," he said. "We must answer the question of how security and governance should be exercised on this modern digital landscape, in service of the world’s economic and social well-being."