The United States has requested dispute settlement consultations with Mexico under Chapter 31 of the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (“USMCA”) concerning a range of energy policies adopted by the Government of Mexico that the United States believes discriminate against U.S. interests in violation of the USMCA.  According to a press release issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai:

Mexico’s policies have largely cut off U.S. and other investment in the country’s clean energy infrastructure, including significant steps to roll back reforms Mexico previously made to meet its climate goals under the Paris Agreement.  Mexico’s policy changes threaten to push private sector innovation out of the Mexican energy market.  To reach our shared regional economic and development goals and climate goals, current and future supply chains need clean, reliable, and affordable energy.

Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng has indicated that Canada has joined the United States in challenging these actions through the same dispute settlement mechanism.  This is the first time that the United States and Canada have both pursued USMCA dispute settlement consultations with Mexico on policies of mutual concern.

Continue Reading United States Seeks USMCA Dispute Settlement Consultations With Mexico Over Range of Energy Policies

On June 6, 2022, President Biden issued a declaration of emergency with respect to the availability of electricity generation capacity in the United States, and pursuant to this declaration, authorized the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to permit certain solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam to be temporarily imported without antidumping duty and countervailing duties (“AD/CVD”) in response to an ongoing anticircumvention proceeding.

As background, U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) is currently conducting an anticircumvention inquiry into whether imports from these four Southeast Asian countries are circumventing the AD/CVD orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells and modules, i.e., solar cells and panels, from China.  If Commerce makes an affirmative circumvention finding, solar cells and modules manufactured in these countries may be presumed to be subject to the China CSPV AD/CVD orders.  Due to the possibility that high AD/CVD rates could then apply to these imports, many participants in the renewable energy industry were concerned that this investigation could adversely affect the U.S. solar industry, and negatively impact U.S. clean energy efforts.  Questions about the retroactive nature of any tariffs that could be imposed through this anticircumvention proceeding due to the recently modified regulations also have caused uncertainty in the industry, which in turn led several market participants to announce suspensions of U.S. solar projects.

Continue Reading Biden Administration Suspends Possible Tariffs from Solar Anticircumvention Inquiry

On June 1, 2022, the United States and Taiwan announced the launch of the “U.S.-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade” (“Initiative”) designed to strengthen bilateral economic and trade relationships between the two parties.  Representatives from the United States and Taiwan intend to meet later in June to “develop an ambitious roadmap for negotiations for reaching agreements with high standard commitments and economically meaningful outcomes” in 11 specific areas affecting bilateral trade and economic cooperation.  Concurrent with the launch of the Initiative, the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) published a request for public comments in order to help the agency develop negotiating objectives and positions for these upcoming meetings.  Comments must be filed with USTR by July 8, 2022.

Continue Reading The Launch of the U.S.-Taiwan Initiative On 21st Century Trade

On May 23, 2022, President Biden announced the launch of negotiations for the long-awaited Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (“IPEF”).  The IPEF had been under consideration for some time, but was finally announced during the President’s first trip to Asia.

These negotiations are beginning with a total of 12 countries in addition to the United States:  Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Many of the countries on the list had been predicted (e.g., Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore), but some were unexpected (e.g., Brunei and the Philippines).  While Taiwan had indicated interest in joining, it was excluded from this launch largely because of concerns that its inclusion would prove an irritant to China, which might in turn dissuade other countries from joining.  Nevertheless, there appears to be support in the Administration and elsewhere for continued bilateral engagement on trade and investment issues. On May 27, 2022, Fiji also joined the IPEF, the first Pacific Island nation to join the framework.

Continue Reading The Biden Administration Announces the Launch of Negotiations for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) has recently initiated a statutory four-year review of the two actions taken under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, in the investigation of China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation.  The two specific actions under review are the imposition of additional tariffs under Section 301 on products on List 1(covering $34 billion in imports as of 2018) and List 2 ($16 million in imports), which were subsequently modified by the imposition of List 3 and List 4A.

This “review of necessity” is being conducted pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 2417(c), which obligates USTR to revoke any action taken under Section 301 after four years unless parties that benefit from that action requests its continuation.  If continuation is requested, USTR is then required to evaluate the “effectiveness in achieving the objectives of Section 301” and the “effects of such actions on the United States economy, including consumers” for any action taken under Section 301.

Continue Reading USTR Starts “Review of Necessity” of Section 301 Tariffs

Following Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the United States and other major global economies have taken a range of actions to impose economic costs on Russia and Russian interests.  These actions initially consisted of economic sanctions targeting Russian companies and individuals, but have been expanded to include trade in goods.

On March 11, 2022, the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States), as well as the European Union, issued a statement announcing their intention to impose additional economic costs on Russia in response to its military invasion of Ukraine, including with respect to trade in goods.  The joint statement included a range of commitments aimed at isolating Russia from the world’s major economies and global financial institutions, including revoking Russia’s “Most Favored Nation” (MFN) status, which affords Russian imports access to favorable tariff rates among World Trade Organization (WTO) members, and imposing additional restrictions on exports and imports of “key goods and technologies” to Russia.

As discussed below, the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have each taken steps to effectuate the G7 statement.  In addition to revoking Russia’s MFN status, thereby increasing the cost of Russian imports generally, these jurisdictions have all imposed certain product-specific restrictions on the importation and/or exportation of specific goods from and/or to Russia.  In certain instances, these measures have also been extended to cover trade with Russia’s ally Belarus.

 
Continue Reading Major Global Economies Take Aim at Trade with Russia Following Military Invasion of Ukraine

In October 2021, President Biden announced the United States’ intention to pursue an “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework” (IPEF) as a means of strengthening U.S. ties in the Asian region.  Substantive discussions on the IPEF have not yet begun, and indeed, there has not yet been an announcement how the negotiations will be conducted or which nations will be involved.  Nevertheless, enough about this proposed framework of agreements has been announced that companies in the region can begin to prepare for the process.  This article will discuss what is known about the IPEF, why the current administration is taking this approach, and how countries in the Asian region may be affected by this new agreement.

By way of background, in February 2016, after years of negotiations, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed.  The TPP covered 12 countries, including the United States, and was described as a high-standard “21st Century” trade agreement.  However, one of then-President Trump’s first actions in office was to withdraw the United States from the TPP.  The remaining TPP countries renegotiated the agreement without the United States (essentially removing certain elements of the agreement the United States alone had backed), and ultimately entered into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  Since President Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, pressure has been building for the United States to reengage with Asia on economic and commercial matters.  The IPEF is the United States’ current policy response.

Continue Reading The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework: How the United States Intends to Re-Engage with Asia on Trade

On February 10, 2022, the Department of Commerce (“the Department”) published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on the process for seeking exclusions from the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.  Comments are due on March 28, 2022.

The Department is soliciting comments with regard to two areas in particular.  First, as directed by

On February 8, 2022, Auxin Solar Inc. (“Auxin”) filed a request that the U.S. Department of Commerce (“the Department”) determine whether the antidumping duty and countervailing duty (“AD/CVD”) orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells and modules, i.e., solar cells and panels, from China are being circumvented.  Auxin alleges that certain Chinese CSPV producers