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Operations Continue As Normal

As the Nation comes together to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Federal and State Governments have issued guidance and or directives that reinforces the need for critical infrastructure industries to maintain normal work schedules and operations.

Transportation and Logistics is one of the Federally and State designated essential critical infrastructure sectors, and accordingly Westar International and HGE Customs are committed to continuing our normal operations. One significant action we have taken to help ensure the continuity of our ongoing operations is to have our office staff working remotely from their homes. The transition started 3/16 and our remote systems are tested and working smoothly Our staff will continue to be available during normal operating hours.

Shipments in transit will be set up for delivery to your facility.
If you are unable to receive the cargo, please make immediate arrangements with your Westar contact.

We are in this together. Let’s stay safe and healthy.
Your Westar and HGE teams

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January 2020 News Update

BIMCO: Low-Sulfur Fuel Sales Rise as Shipping Industry Responds to IMO 2020

The final quarter of 2019 marked a massive decline of high-sulfur fuel oil (HSFO) sales as the industry transitioned into compliance with the IMO 2020 sulphur cap, according to international shipping association BIMCO.


Hapag-Lloyd Inks Space Charter Deal with Maersk and MSC

German shipping major Hapag-Lloyd has signed a space charter agreement with the members of the 2M Alliance – Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).


US faces an uphill struggle to regain market share lost in the trade war   18/01/2020

For almost two years the US has been embroiled in a rhetoric-filled trade war with China, but this week, the two countries signed the Phase One deal.

The agreement was hailed as “tremendous” by President Trump.

However. based on the flow of trade, the US will face an uphill battle in taking back the market share it lost to its competitors because of the tariffs.

The pipes of trade have been diverted away from the US and, no matter what is pledged in Phase One, trade expansions by China during this time will have an impact on US trade.


Asia-Europe carriers leave boxes on quays as they eye better-paid cargo   18/01/2020

This month has seen the return of container rollovers in loading ports out of Asia as carriers continue to trim capacity.

Several reports have come into The Loadstar this week that some Asia-North Europe ocean carriers have been discharging containers loaded in China at transhipment ports en route, so they can accommodate better-paying cargo.


US airport limitations hurt cargo industry

One international carrier has had to rethink its plans for the US market. Its ambitions for a freighter service to a major gateway had to be scrapped owing to a crucial detail: The cargo terminal’s cooler can accommodate only four or five pallets.

Speaking privately, the airline’s head of cargo was incredulous. “This is a big gateway in the biggest cargo market in the world, and they have only a small cooler,” he said.


Qatar Cargo suspends Pittsburgh flights for off season  

Qatar Cargo has temporarily suspended its freighter flights to Pittsburgh during the quiet season for cargo.

A spokesperson for Allegheny County Airport Authority confirmed the move but said he expected the flights to restart in the future.


Cargo Insurance:

MAIB: CMA CGM G. Washington Lost 137 Containers after 20-Degree Rolls

Two years ago, the UK-flagged containership CMA CGM G. Washington experienced 20° rolls in the North Pacific leading to the collapse of three container bays, according to a report by UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB).


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Privacy Policy 2019

Privacy Shield Policy 2019 final

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Changes to US Customs Duties/Taxes Payments Procedure

Recently, the U.S. Administration has begun the process of implementation of increased and additional duties for various imported goods. This situation has resulted in a substantial increase in our outlay of duties on behalf of our clients. After careful deliberation, we feel that all of our clients should consider opening their own ACH accounts directly with U.S. Customs. Please find linked information regarding this process below. ACH direct debit allows clients to maintain a direct line of credit with U.S. Customs and coupled with PMS (Periodic Monthly Statements) this will grant terms of up to 45 days for actual payment. The specific length of time is determined by the filing date of the individual entries.
You now have the option to pay entry duties and taxes directly by mean of your own ACH account. Alternatively, Westar will continue to outlay duties on your behalf. For any duties outlaid by Westar on behalf of our clients a disbursement fee of 2% (minimum $25.00) will be assessed on the total duties and taxes due. Our normal terms will continue to be applied to our invoices,  with any invoices including an actual duty and tax total (paid by Westar)  of greater than $1,000 due upon receipt. We will continue our current interest and collection procedures for overdue amounts.
The effective date for the disbursement fee will be January 01, 2019. Any Customs transactions processed on or after this effective date will have this disbursement fee applied unless ACH direct debit has been setup for an individual client.
Please find below linked information on ACH and PMS. And again, please contact our team to discuss the benefits associated with each.
We fully understand that this is a change in process for our clients and we are here to help. Any questions or requests for information can be directed to any member of the Westar team. That team member will be happy to help answer question and direct our clients in the process of setting up ACH direct debit.
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Trump postpones decision over EU tariffs, staving off potential trade war

Form: The

White House extends Europe’s exemption from tariffs on steel and aluminum, which was due to expire Tuesday.  

Donald Trump has pulled back from a potential trade war with Europe by postponing a decision on imposing steel and aluminum tariffs until 1 June.EU Flag

The US president imposed a worldwide 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum in March but granted temporary exemptions to Canada, Mexico, Brazil, the European Union (EU), Australia and Argentina. These were due to expire at 12.01am on Tuesday.

The extension offers temporary reprieve for French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel, who lobbied Trump during visits to the White House last week. It could also be seen by political analysts as the latest issue on which Trump’s bark has proved worse than his bite.

The administration “reached agreements in principle with Argentina, Australia, and Brazil with respect to steel and aluminum, the details of which will be finalized shortly”, the White House said on Monday. “The Administration is also extending negotiations with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union for a final 30 days.”

Trump, who ran on a nationalist “America first” agenda, claims the tariffs are needed to protect American metal producers from unfair competition and enhance national security amid a worldwide oversupply of steel and aluminum largely blamed on excess production in China.

At a joint press conference with Merkel at the White House last week, the president said: “We need a reciprocal relationship, which we don’t have … We’re working on it and we want to make it more fair and the chancellor wants to make it more fair.”

But the move threatens to spark a trade war that could cause turmoil in financial markets. The EU – which is the biggest US trading partner – has warned that, if it is subject to tariffs on the 6.4bn euros’ ($7.7bn) worth of the metals it exports annually to the US, it will retaliate with its own tariffs on 2.8bn euros’ ($3.4bn) worth of US goods imported into Europe including Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levi’s jeans and Kentucky bourbon.

The European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said in March: “If the Americans impose tariffs on steel and aluminium, then we must treat American products the same way. We must show that we can also take measures. This cannot be a unilateral transatlantic action by the Americans.”

And at the weekend the German government said Merkel, Macron and Britain’s Theresa May had agreed, after conferring by phone, that if the tariffs were imposed, “the European Union should be ready to decisively defend its interests within the framework of multilateral trade rules”.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said on Monday that any move by Washington to impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum would be a “very bad idea” bound to disrupt trade between the two countries. Canada is the biggest source of steel imports into the US.

Administration officials have said that in lieu of tariffs, countries that export steel and aluminum would have to agree to quotas designed to achieve similar protections for US producers. South Korea was granted a permanent exemption in exchange for agreeing to cut its steel exports to the US by about 30%.

China, Japan and Russia have not received exemptions from the tariffs. The US has also threatened to impose tariffs on $150bn of Chinese goods in retaliation for what it claims are Beijing’s unfair trade practices and its requirement that US companies turn over technology in exchange for access to its market.

The UK welcomed the deadline extension. A government spokesperson said: “It is positive that the UK has been granted a further exemption to these tariffs. We will continue to work closely with our EU partners and the US government to achieve a permanent exemption, ensuring our important steel and aluminum industries are safeguarded.

“We remain concerned about the impact of these tariffs on global trade and will continue to work with the EU on a multilateral solution to the global problem of overcapacity, as well as to manage the impact on domestic markets.”

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FMC blames chassis, driver shortage for no-shows

American Shipper – By Brian Bradley |Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Senators are told, “American cargo owners are saying their equipment is getting stuck, their cargo is getting stuck at these inland places.”

A shortage of chassis and truck drivers is contributing to carriers’ cancellations of final legs of deliveries in inland parts of the United States, including the Chicago, Detroit and Dallas areas, and Federal Maritime Commission Acting Chairman Michael Khouri expects “prompt” replies to FMC letters sent to carriers requesting more information on the situation, he told senators Tuesday.

The FMC on Monday announced it launched an investigation into complaints from some U.S. cargo owners that some ocean carriers are unilaterally changing service contract terms by canceling the port/container yard to final customer destination leg of cargo shipments.

Westar handles worldwide logistics for FCL and LCL cargo

Westar handles worldwide logistics for FCL and LCL cargo

The agency sent letters Friday to shipping lines with service contract actions that have been called into question and expects responses by May 20, the FMC said in its announcement.

Following a hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, Khouri told American Shipper that the length of the FMC’s investigation will depend on the breadth of responses it receives.

“There’s just sort of a dislocation right now as to that last truck leg, who’s responsible for it, and how it’s going to be contracted for, et cetera,” Khouri said after the hearing.
The FMC noticed the issue during its standard monitoring of shipping industry filings, Khouri said. “We saw where carrier tariffs were being amended, in terms of the difference between a yard move and a door move,” he told American Shipper.
A core issue of the investigation will be the differentiation between yard moves, for which ocean carriers are responsible for delivering cargo to container yards for cargo owners to pick up, and door moves, for which ocean carriers are responsible for taking the cargo all the way to the customer’s door, Khouri said.
During the hearing, Khouri indicated that inland shipping is currently presenting more velocity-related complications than seaports, which haven’t experienced much congestion recently.
“American cargo owners are saying their equipment is getting stuck, their cargo is getting stuck at these inland places,” Khouri told senators.
Khouri also touched on maritime industry trends, noting that SM Line Corporation, a South Korean bulk company, last week announced plans to initiate new service connecting China, Korea, Japan and the Pacific Northwest with ships previously owned by Hanjin, which went bankrupt in 2016.
A new entrant like SM Line calling on U.S. ports “makes us smile,” Khouri said. “The business shows itself to be resilient in that regard.”
However, on the port side, there is likely a “fairly large” backlog of infrastructure projects as the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has had to turn away several more than it is able to fund through utilizing TIGER and other infrastructure grants, MARAD Administrator Mark Buzby said during the hearing.
A port-specific infrastructure program developed by the Transportation Department “is essential,” the Coalition for More Efficient Ports wrote in a statement submitted to the committee before the hearing.
The subcommittee should consider funding the Port Infrastructure Development Program, created in the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as port projects are eligible for TIGER, TIFIA and INFRA grant funding, but there are no port-specific grant programs, the coalition wrote.
The 2010 NDAA tasked the Transportation secretary, through the MARAD administrator, to establish a port infrastructure development program for improvement of port facilities, the coalition noted.
Buzby said an increased emphasis on port funding is needed going forward.
Responding to a question by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Buzby said he wouldn’t object to a port-specific funding program.
“Many of our larger ports are aging and our infrastructure is aging,” Buzby said. “Especially with the larger ships coming in, we need to keep a very close focus on that.”


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Spending Bill Renews GSP Trade Preference Program

The Omnibus spending bill signed into law today included the retroactive renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) trade program which expired on 12/31/2017. The GSP provides for duty-free treatment to goods of designated beneficiary countries. Authorized by the Trade Act of 1974, GSP is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program. Specific procedures will be forthcoming from US Customs & Border Protection regarding claims for retroactive reimbursement of duties paid on affected entries since the expiration of the program at the end of last year. For more information contact your Westar International representative.

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ILA – USMX to Resume Talks

NEWS FLASH: ILA, USMX to resume contract talks

The union and employers revealed Friday they will resume master contract discussions, saying that issues and concerns regarding automation, which caused the talks to come to a halt in December, have been “adequately addressed.”


American Shipper |Chris Dupin |Friday, March 09, 2018

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) revealed Friday they are resuming master contract negotiations, with the goal of finalizing terms on a contract that will keep cargo moving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports.

Their current contract expires Sept. 30, 2018.

Talks between the dockworker union and the USMX, which represents ILA employers, broke down on Dec. 6 last year over issues having to do with automation.

ILA President Harold J. Daggett said in December a proposal from USMX “would have killed this union within five years – they’d be nothing left. As of today, the ILA is against semi-automated terminals.”

Last Friday, a group of 110 associations representing shippers and logistics companies had asked the two parties to resume talks, saying that “even the threat of a disruption can have negative economic impact to Gulf and East Coast ports.”

A joint statement from Daggett and USMX Chairman David F. Adam on Friday said, “USMX and the ILA want to keep cargo moving, and we are ready to put in the effort to get this job done to the satisfaction of employers and ILA dockworkers.

“The two sides will continue to negotiate master contract issues and will encourage local port areas to concurrently work out terms for local agreements,” the statement added. “The ILA has received assurances from USMX that issues and concerns regarding automation have been adequately addressed, opening a path toward successfully negotiating a new agreement well before the current master contract expires at the end of September this year.”

Jim McNamara, a spokesman for the ILA, said that the two parties were able to clarify definitions of semi-automated terminals, fully-automated terminals, and semi- and fully-automated equipment, allowing the talks to resume.

While ILA leadership has previously scheduled meetings through March 18 on other matters, McNamara said the union would want to resume negotiations “as soon as possible.”


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The detention, demurrage fee conundrum

American Shipper – Eric Johnson

The Federal Maritime Commission has yet to determine if entities should receive relief from ocean carriers and terminals assessing free time penalties when the cause of exceeding contracted free time is out of the shipper or intermediary’s control.

There’s little in this world that’s truly black and white, something shippers, intermediaries and drayage providers may want to bear in mind while they wait for the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission to potentially issue a binding policy on the assessment of detention and demurrage fees in extraordinary circumstances.
The FMC held two days’ worth of hearings on the matter in mid-January, a testament to how thoroughly the agency wants to understand the matter, and how multifaceted the issue is.
At the end of nearly 10 hours of testimony, there was little indication whether the commission would act on a petition in front of it filed by a broad coalition of associations. The more than 25 entities, which represent shippers, freight forwarders and domestic transportation providers, want relief from ocean carriers and terminals assessing free time penalties when the cause of exceeding contracted free time is out of the shipper’s or intermediary’s control.
The petition, filed in December 2016, asks the FMC to enact policy to prevent what the coalition called “unfair” assessment of free time-related fees. The problem has reached a head in recent years during times of extreme congestion in U.S. ports, such as during a threatened U.S. West Coast longshore labor strike in late 2014 and early 2015, or in the aftermath of liner carrier Hanjin Shipping declaring bankruptcy in August 2016.
Cargo owners and trucking companies are normally given a certain number of free days to pick up containers of imported goods from ports after they have been unloaded from ships. After that, they can be charged demurrage, a fee intended to ensure that containers are removed quickly and efficiently. In addition, detention and per diem fees can be charged if the cargo containers and the chassis used to haul them are not returned within a specified time.
Free time is generally negotiated in ocean freight contracts. Larger volume shippers often have the leverage to negotiate more favorable terms, both in terms of the number of free days and the penalties assessed when free time ends.
The shippers and their advocates who testified before the FMC said they were not seeking elimination of demurrage and detention fees, only a check on the ability of carriers and terminals to use the fees as drivers of revenue rather than to punish bad actors who use terminal space or equipment improperly.
Conversely, carriers and terminals testified that they have no interest in assessing fees to shippers due to the competitive nature of the liner industry. They also lamented the idea that they should bear sole risk during periods of intense congestion.

Shipper Objections. The commission heard from shippers on both ends of the size spectrum, including Walmart and the American Coffee Corp., which brings in roughly 2,000 TEUs worth of imports per year.
The issue has been a long-term thorn in the side of cargo interests, and reached a head in 2014 when congestion related to prickly negotiations between longshore labor and marine terminals wreaked havoc with the flow of containers on the U.S. West Coast.
The complaints laid out by cargo interests centered around three areas:
• The lack of uniformity, transparency, and consistency related to free time penalties.
• The lack of a viable path for shippers and intermediaries, particularly smaller ones, to fight what they consider unfair penalties.
• The disconnect between the commercial relationship between cargo interests and the marine terminals.
The last area centered around the reality that terminal operators tend to deal solely with carriers, while carriers are the ones to assess detention and demurrage penalties, a system that prevents cargo interests from developing direct relationships with terminals. The situation is exacerbated, some said, in ports where a single authority controls an entire port complex versus larger, landlord-operated ports where there is at least some competition between terminals.
But even that competition has dissipated in recent years, as consolidation in the carrier industry means fewer carriers have grouped into bigger alliances. That means it’s harder for a shipper to dictate which terminal its containers move through.
“Quite honestly, we would love to have a business discussion and leverage our volume,” said Laura Crowe, senior director of global logistics at Walmart. “But our contracts are with the carriers, and the carriers have to negotiate with the terminals. We’ve had situations where carriers have asked us to help them negotiate with the terminals.”
Crowe said the problem is particularly acute for the retailer in Savannah, Ga., where Walmart has invested heavily in fixed distribution center assets, and where there isn’t competition among terminals.
“Once I’m locked into a market, [the terminals] have no reason to negotiate,” she said.
The inability for shippers to effectively dispute what they consider unfair or incorrect charges was also a point several witnesses emphasized. The nature of the size of the penalties—per container or bill of lading—made it hard for cargo interests to justify pursuing time-consuming and costly disputes. In other words, the internal cost or cost to hire lawyers was too big a risk to take in most circumstances. Added together, the costs could be substantial for some shippers, but often still below the threshold of seeking a resolution.
The witnesses urged the FMC to set up policy guidelines that would, in effect, make it clearer when carriers and terminals have overstepped their bounds in assessing penalties. The guidelines, the panelists argued, would also reorient the concept of detention and demurrage back toward its original intent—to incentivize shippers to quickly evacuate laden boxes from a terminal and quickly return empty equipment.
“This is something that’s at the discretion of carriers and terminals that has been abused,” said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, an association of U.S. exporters. “If they hadn’t abused it, we wouldn’t be there. Carriers and terminals can solve this. They know what’s reasonable and what’s not. They have to police themselves, or the sheriff has to come in.”
“Carriers and terminals can solve this. They know what’s reasonable and what’s not. They have to police themselves, or the sheriff has to come in.” Peter Friedmann, executive director, Agriculture Transportation Coalition
Setting Boundaries. Multiple speakers said they weren’t asking the FMC to establish strict rules as to the rates carriers could charge and the number of days of free time granted either by port tariffs or within commercial contracts. They instead wanted the FMC to set boundaries for what constitutes unfair business practices.
“The FMC is uniquely positioned to set guidelines and a common understanding of what is fair and what is not fair,” said Alex Cherin, representing the California Trucking Association Intermodal Conference. “While a commercial solution may seem appropriate, I can tell you we have tried and tried again. Meetings after meetings, some facilitated by ports themselves, this commission. The core practices of charging fees when inappropriate remains. I remain convinced the FMC is the only entity positioned to referee this issue.”
Some of the testimony during the FMC hearing centered on risk and the assessment of demurrage and detention fees. Cargo interests argued that they shoulder risk in other parts of the supply chain and shouldn’t be ask to bear the burden of events—whether man-made or natural—out of their control.
“We’re not asking an unfair burden on [carriers and terminals] because we have risk as well,” said Richard Roche, vice president of international transportation at Mohawk Global Logistics and NVOCC subcommittee chairman at the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. “We’re asking them to take care of their side and we take care of ours.”
Roche said his supplier customers take the burden of strict chargebacks from retailers, while truckers take the risk of dry runs and long wait times in port.
“We don’t charge [the carriers and terminals] because they didn’t perform,” he said. “We don’t need to be penalized for their lack of performance.”
“The core practices of charging fees when inappropriate remains. I remain convinced the FMC is the only entity positioned to referee this issue.” Alex Cherin, representative, California Trucking Association Intermodal Conference
Carrier Conundrum. Testimony from the carriers and terminals focused on a few core ideas, primarily that carriers have little interest in alienating or annoying their customers.
Terminal representatives, meanwhile, emphasized that they are only involved in assessing demurrage (the excess time containers spend in their facilities), and that it’s critical to maintain a tool to stimulate cargo fluidity through prized dockside space.
“We’re in intense competition with each other, even within the alliances,” said Howard Finkel, executive vice president of COSCO Shipping Lines (North America). “The last thing you want to be as a carrier is be strict on demurrage in the face of things like serious weather events. It’s hard to get a shipper to sign a contract [if that’s your stance].”
Both Finkel and Richard Craig, president and CEO of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (America), said the issue of grievances over excessive demurrage or detention fees was overstated by shippers and drayage providers who testified. Both said that such cases happen, but that they are far from the norm, and don’t merit the FMC taking action to handle something that is currently and best handled commercially.
Terminal operators also refuted the idea that the commercial gap between beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and terminal operators is the root cause of the issue.
“We’re in intense competition with each other, even within the alliances. The last thing you want to be as a carrier is be strict on demurrage in the face of things like serious weather events.” Howard Finkel, executive vice president, COSCO Shipping Lines (North America).
“We heard yesterday that BCOs don’t have a choice in terminals,” said Ed DeNike, president of SSA Containers. “But there are more terminal operators now that are trying to convince carriers to use their terminals. We’re trying to do a better job, so the carriers want to do business with us.”
That means that a terminal doesn’t want to be seen dinging shippers for demurrage, if it might drive a shipper away from the carrier that uses that terminal.
DeNike also disputed the idea that shippers and drayage providers don’t have a relationship with terminals. He said the relationship might not be contractual but that BCOs and their drayage providers interact with the terminals on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, John Butler, president and CEO of the World Shipping Council, which represents the liner carrier industry, called on the commission to weigh carefully any action that would standardize the application of detention or demurrage fees.
“There’s a huge difference between the flexibility available in a commercial contract and any official action by the commission,” he said. “Any time you reduce flexibility, you reduce competition. Telling us ‘we’re not telling you that you have to do it a certain way, we’re just telling you what you can’t do’ is in effect the same.”

To Regulate Or Not? The FMC is now left to weigh a tricky question: is the unfair application of detention and demurrage fees the norm in the industry (a revenue stream that often exceeds the cost of the freight rate, as suggested by the petitioning coalition), or are these grievances infrequent and not significant enough of a problem to regulate?
The commission is down to three commissioners at present after the departures in 2017 of former Chairman Mario Cordero (now executive director at the Port of Long Beach) and Commissioner William Doyle (now executive director of the Dredging Contractors of America).
As Acting FMC Chairman Michael Khouri put it at the end of the hearing: “Is a problem systemic or episodic? Are there places in between that we need to look at? Where do we step in with a judicious hand to make things better, recognizing that we’re not going to be able to solve all problems?”
Karyn Booth, a partner at the law firm Thompson Hine, who spoke on behalf of the petitioners asking for FMC intervention, said the breadth of the cargo interests that formed the coalition behind the petition speaks volumes.
“Listening to carriers and terminals, you’d be led to believe that there’s no problem,” Booth said. “That’s simply not the case. You have a petition filed by 26 organizations. It’s not one company or one association. There are 100 comments in this record. American companies don’t hire D.C. lawyers and take time to come to hearings unless there’s a real problem.”
There is no set timeframe for the FMC to make a determination on the petition, but a spokesperson said the commission is committed to coming to a decision in a timely fashion.
“This is a very complex issue that presents difficult choices,” Khouri said in a statement. “The question to be resolved is if the commission, with a judicious hand, can help make things better, though we recognize, we will never be able to solve all the issues associated with the timely handoff of the container from carriers to shippers.”

FMC Petitioners: The 25 members of the coalition that filed the petition are: the American Apparel & Footwear Association; American Chemistry Council; Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers; Association of Food Industries; Auto Care Association; Foreign Trade Association; Green Coffee Association; Harbor Association of Industry & Commerce; Harbor Trucking Association; Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference of the American Trucking Associations; International Association of Movers; Juice Products Association; Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association; Meat Import Council of America; Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association; National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America; National Pork Producers Council; National Retail Federation; New York/New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association; North American Meat Institute; Retail Industry Leaders Association; Tea Association of the USA; National Industrial Transportation League; Transportation Intermediaries Association; and U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association.


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House passes miscellaneous tariff bill

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act (H.R. 4318), which has now moved to the Senate for approval, promises to eliminate $1.1 billion in import tariffs during the next three years and boost U.S. manufacturing output by over $3.1 billion.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday that promises to eliminate $1.1 billion in import tariffs during the next three years and increase U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion.

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act (H.R. 4318), once enacted, will effectively eliminate on a temporary basis tariffs on imports of nearly 1,700 products not available in the United States.

“I am proud to join with my colleagues to support American workers and help American manufacturers of all sizes reduce costs, create jobs, and compete globally,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Reichert, R-Wash., in a statement. “Today’s strong bipartisan vote has been years in the making.”

Congress has not passed a miscellaneous tariff bill since the U.S. Manufacturing Enhancement Act in 2010 expired at the end of 2012.

The 2016 American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, which became law on May 20, 2016, established a new process for determining which imported products will be included in a miscellaneous tariff bill. Previously, Congress played the predominant role in these determinations.

Under the new process, the task of collecting petitions requesting reduced or suspended tariffs on particular products, receiving public comments on those petitions, and making a final determination on whether to include a requested product in a miscellaneous trade bill is now carried out by U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC also obtains input from other federal agencies, including the Commerce Department, in making its determination for each petition.

These reviews were concluded by Commerce, the ITC and the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees in August 2017, and both chambers drafted miscellaneous tariff bills before the year ended. Reichert thanked the ITC and Commerce, as well as Customs and Border Protection, “for their invaluable work.”

Industry groups applauded the House’s action on passing this underrated, but important trade legislation.

“Manufacturers and other businesses face what amounts to a nearly $1-million-a-day tax every additional day this issue goes unresolved,” said Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, in a statement. “That’s thanks to billions of dollars in burdensome tariffs that companies have had to pay since the last MTB expired at the end of 2012, just for buying the supplies they need to build products in America.”

“Given the scale of the undue duty burden our industry faces – in 2016, our industry generated more than 50 percent of duties collected by the U.S. government despite only accounting for a mere 6 percent of total imports by value – such duty relief is critical for our industry,” said Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO, American Apparel & Footwear Association, in a letter to House lawmakers on Tuesday.

Industry groups are now pressing the Senate to act quickly to approve the legislation and get it to President Trump’s desk for signature.

“Manufacturers and our economy started 2018 strong. Passing legislation like this will help keep the momentum going,” Timmons said.

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