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Volume 23, Number 78                                 Monday, April 21, 2014

Trade Reports International Group


Some Progress in US-Japan Talks

 Bilateral market access talks between the United States and Japan concluded Friday without reaching a deal, but US Trade Representative Michael Froman said progress has been made – and a “reasonable number of outstanding issues” are left (WTD, 4/18/14).

But considerable differences remain on those issues still on the table, the USTR said in a statement following two days of meetings with Akira Amari, Japan’s chief negotiator for the TransPacific Partnership.

“We have worked to be as creative as possible to address Japan’s political sensitivities, while pursuing the overall objective of achieving meaningful access to its market – a goal that all TPP partners share,” Mr. Froman said.  “We look to Japan to make similar efforts.”

The two officials met for over 20 hours Thursday and Friday.  Minister Amari told reporters on Friday that there had been some progress, particularly on Friday.  The two sides are now getting into the most difficult part of the negotiations, where substantial differences remain.

No further discussions appeared to be planned between USTR Froman and Mr. Amari, who is Japan’s Minister for National Strategy and Economic Policy, in advance of this week’s meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Abe.  The two leaders will meet on Wednesday in Tokyo.

Cutler, Vetter Off to Tokyo

Acting Deputy USTR Wendy Cutler – chief US-Japan TPP negotiator – and Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Darcie Vetter will be in Tokyo beginning today to continue discussions ahead of President Obama’s visit.  They will meet with Japan’s Deputy TPP Negotiator Hiroshi Oe and Ambassador for Economic Diplomacy Takeo Mori.

A Japanese Embassy official discounted press reports earlier in the week that suggested agreement had been reached to allow Tokyo to retain tariffs on some its most sensitive issues.  There has been some progress, but differences remain, the official told WTD.

Tokyo is seeking to protect five so-called sacred agricultural products – rice, sugar, wheat, dairy and beef and pork – from tariff elimination.

Meanwhile, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told reporters at the White House Friday that the outstanding bilateral issues will not be resolved before President Obama meets with the Japanese Prime Minister.  She said some progress has been made in the run-up to the President’s trip, but talks will continue beyond the visit.

In the overall TPP negotiations, a great deal of progress has been made and more can be expected in the coming weeks and months, Ms. Rice said.


Commerce Takes Up Sugar Investigations

The Commerce Department announced on Friday initiation of antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of imports of sugar from Mexico (WTD, 4/4/14).

Included in the investigation are raw sugar, estandar or standard sugar (sometimes referred to as “semi-refined” sugar), and refined sugar as are brown sugar, liquid sugar (sugar dissolved in water), organic raw sugar and organic refined sugar.

Specialty sugars – rock candy, fondant and sugar decorations – and processed food products that contain sugar, such as beverages, candy and cereals are not covered by these petitions.

A group of US sugar growers filed the antidumping and countervailing duties petitions on March 28.  They said low-priced imports from Mexico – coupled with heavy government subsidization – are being sold in the US market and disrupting US production.

The petitioner is the American Sugar Coalition and its individual members – the American Sugar Cane League, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, American Sugar Refining Incorporated, the Florida Sugar Cane League, the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers Incorporated, the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida and United States Beet Sugar Association.

 The North American Free Trade Agreement allows Mexico the right to export sugar to the United States duty-free and quota-free, but it does not eliminate the ability of US producers to file import cases.

In 2013, imports of sugar from Mexico were valued at an estimated $1.1 billion.

ITC Review

The International Trade Commission is scheduled to make its preliminary injury determinations by May 12.  If the ITC comes up with a positive determination on injury, Commerce will make its preliminary CVD determination in June and its preliminary AD determination in September.

The ITC conducted a pre-hearing briefing on the petitions on Thursday.  Representatives of the Sweetener Users Association said that imports from Mexico are not responsible for reducing US sugar production or the market share of US sugar producers.  The current market situation, the group said, is well within the parameters of how the government-managed sugar market normally behaves.

In its own statement, the American Sugar Alliance reported that sugar acreage in the United States declined by 4 percent for sugar beets currently being planted.  It is the fourth consecutive quarter that plantings have been down under the US sugar program.


Around the Globe

           ●          BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Friday said that trade, commerce and technology would be the driving factors in Indo-US diplomatic relations if the BJP came to power at the centre, the Economic Times reported (WTD, 4/16/14).  “It is in India’s interest to promote trade, commerce and technology. We will do whatever is necessary to that effect,” Modi told a news channel when he was asked how he planned to improve the deteriorating relations with the US.

Modi said the parameters of diplomacy have changed drastically in the post-globalisation era.  “Today foreign policy revolves around trade, commerce and technology,” Modi asserted.

            ●          Russia and China can boost their bilateral trade to $100 billion by next year, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at a meeting of officials from the two countries Friday, RIA Novosti reported.  Rogozin said that growth in trade between the two countries had accelerated in the first two months of this year to 4 percent, but called for even faster expansion.

“The pace is insufficient in order to meet the objective set by the leaders of Russia and China – to bring the bilateral trade turnover to $100 billion by 2015,” Rogozin said at the meeting held in Russia’s Vladivostok in the Far East.  Last year, China became Russia’s largest trade partner and Russia became China’s ninth largest, Rogozin said.  Chinese officials aim to stimulate investment in Russia and encourage an attractive business environment in the country, the Russian deputy prime minister said, adding that Russia will present several large investment projects at an upcoming exhibition in China in June.

            ●         The trade deficit in Bangladesh during the first 8 months of the current fiscal year 2013/2014 narrowed 22.57 percent to USD3.56 billion, Xinhua reported.  Bangladesh’s import hit a total of USD23.14 billion in the period, increasing 6.24 percent, while exports surged nearly 14 percent to USD19,58 billion.  The Bangladesh Bank (BB) released data that shows the gap between the country’s exports and imports payments hit around USD4.6 billion.

  —   —

On the Web......


Sugar.  Sweeteners Users Association on import case against import of Mexican sugar.  (available at:  http://t.e2ma.net/message/4w68h/48vsvh )  issued:  4/18/14.

Sugar.  American Sugar Alliance statement on initiation of import cases against imports of sugar from Mexico.  (available at:  http://www.sugaralliance.org/doc-initiates-investigation-into-mexican-sugar-subsidies-dumping-4844/ )  issued:  4/18/14.

Sugar.  Agriculture Department report on sugar production in Mexico.  (available at:  http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Sugar%20Annual _Mexico%20City_Mexico_4-15-2014.pdf )  issued:  4/18/14.


California.  Customs Bureau statement on visit to California by Commissioner Kerlikowse.  (available at:  http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/2014-04-19-000000/readout-commissioner-kerlikowske%E2%80%99s-trip-california )  issued:  4/18/14.

CTPAT.  Customs Bureau update on its Custom-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism best practices.  (available at:  http://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/cargo-security/c-tpat-customs-trade-partnership-against-terrorism/bestpractices )  issued:  4/18/14.

Export Controls

Civil Penalties.  Treasury Department latest list of civil penalties for violation of the Export Administration Regulations.  (available at:  http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USTREAS/bulletins/b215dd )  issued:  4/18/14.


US Relations.  US Trade Representative’s office readout of meetings between USTR Froman and Japanese Minister Amari.  (available at:  http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2014/April/Readout-Meeting-USTR-Froman-and-Japanese-Minister-Economic-Fiscal-Policy-Amari   )  issued:  4/18/14.


Sugar.  Sweeteners Users Association on import case against import of Mexican sugar.  (available at:  http://t.e2ma.net/message/4w68h/48vsvh )  issued:  4/18/14.

Sugar.  American Sugar Alliance statement on initiation of cases against imports of sugar from Mexico.  (available at:  http://www.sugaralliance.org/doc-initiates-investigation-into-mexican-sugar-subsidies-dumping-4844/ )  issued:  4/18/14.

Sugar.  Agriculture Department report on sugar production in Mexico.  (available at:  http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Sugar%20Annual _Mexico%20City_Mexico_4-15-2014.pdf )  issued:  4/18/14.


California.  Customs Bureau statement on visit to California by Commissioner Kerlikowse.  (available at:  http://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/national-media-release/2014-04-19-000000/readout-commissioner-kerlikowske%E2%80%99s-trip-california )  issued:  4/18/14.

What we’re covering this week –

 What We’re Covering This Week

President Obama travels to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines this week.  The ongoing TransPacific Partnership negotiations are expected to be high on the agenda.

            ●          On Monday, the Jamestown Foundation sponsors a program on the situation in Ukraine with speakers including Ukraine Ambassador Olexander Motsyk.

            ●          Tuesday, the US Chamber of Commerce hosts a program on US business opportunities in Morocco.  Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal is among the speakers.

            ●          President Obama departs for his Asia trip.  Japan is the first stop.

            ●          On Wednesday, the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies sponsors a program on the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with speakers including Assistant US Trade Representative and Chief US TTIP negotiator Dan Mullaney and EU Delegation Head of Trade Hiddo Houben.

            ●          The US Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center sponsors a conference on intellectual property.  Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga) is among the speakers.

            ●          Thursday, the US Export Import Bank holds its annual conference, which concludes on Friday.

Read Our Latest Blog


Friday Afternoon


Straight talk.   

Click the highlighted text to hear snippets from WTD’s straight talk.

•  Here’s a brief snippet from remarks April 8 by Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican Orrin Hatch saying he is befuddled over why the President says he supports Trade Promotion Authority but doesn’t do anything about.

•  Here’s Aspen Institute scholar and former Reagan Administration Assistant Secretary of Commerce speaking about with WTD on the many iterations of a US-European Union free trade agreement after a recent Hudson Institute event.

•  Here’s what veteran House Democrat Richard Neal (Mass) – one of four cochairs of the new House TTIP Caucus – told WTD during a reception celebrating the caucus creation on April 3.

•  Here’s what World Trade Organization chief spokesperson Keith Rockwell said in Washington on how and why the WTO is back.

•  Here’s what Council of Economic Advisors Chair Jason Furman told the Joint Economic Committee last week about why there is so little mention of trade in the Economic Report of the President.

•  This is why the European Union is wrong when it says it will never allow imports of US hormone-treated beef, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack tells WTD.