Fashion Intel & Analysis

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation on imports of steel racks from China, determining steel racks from China are being dumped in the United States at margins ranging from 18.08 to 144.50 percent. Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of steel racks from China based on preliminary rates. The petitioner estimates that importers of steel racks were valued at approximately $200 million in 2017. The investigations were initiated based on petitions filed by the Coalition for Fair Rack Imports. Commerce is expected to make the final decision on or before July 18; if the decision is affirmative, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will make a final injury determination on September 3. The Commerce Department fact sheet is available here

Earlier this month the Cotton Campaign held its annual strategy meeting and for the first time also met with a senior government officials from Uzbekistan.  In a press release, the Cotton Campaign said that they are encouraged by the significant progress to eliminate forced labor in the Uzbekistan cotton sector, and both sides agreed on continue discussions in 2019.  

The Cotton Campaign will develop a roadmap for moving forward that outlines the specific actions needed to eliminate forced labor in the cotton harvest.  These discussions will also include  brands and retailers.  The Uzbek Cotton Pledge remains in place – this is a commitment from 310 apparel brands to not “knowingly source” cotton from Uzbekistan until it is no longer produced with government-organized forced labor. The Cotton Campaign will look for demonstrable progress during the 2019 cotton harvest in three areas:  1) systemic forced labor has verifiably ended,  2) structural reforms are sufficiently advanced to prevent force labor from returning, and 3) civil society is enabled to monitor and report on the cotton harvest and labor conditions. 

Yesterday the White House confirmed that the senior level trade talks between the U.S. and China will continue this week in Washington, D.C.  Deputy-level talks start today, and on Thursday senior Administration officials will meet with their Chinese counterparts.  The U.S. delegation will be led by United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and will include Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy Larry Kudlow, and Assistant to the President for Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro.   

These meetings follow serious talks last week in Beijing.  In a statement released after those meetings, the Administration says there is “progress” and spells out the long list of issues that are under discussion.

These detailed and intensive discussions led to progress between the two parties.  Much work remains, however.  Both sides will continue working on all outstanding issues in advance of the March 1, 2019, deadline for an increase in the 10 percent tariff on certain imported Chinese goods.  United States and Chinese officials have agreed that any commitments will be stated in a Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries.

During the talks, the United States delegation focused on structural issues, including forced technology transfer, intellectual property rights, cyber theft, agriculture, services, non-tariff barriers, and currency. The two sides also discussed China’s purchases of United States goods and services intended to reduce the United States’ large and persistent bilateral trade deficit with China.

If the talks continue to make progress, it seems likely there might be an extension of the deadline of March 1st for an agreement to resolve the issues that lead to the imposition of these penalty tariffs on many imports from China.   Extending the deadline also would allow for the two leaders to meet and finalize the agreement in person – something that President Trump has said he wants.  

Good news last week that another government shutdown was avoided, and the government is fully funded until the end of the fiscal year on September 30th.  Buried in the budget bill that President Trump signed on Friday are two provisions that reflect the Congressional support for exclusion procedures to allow companies to petition for relief from the tariffs imposed in the 301 trade retaliation against China and the tariffs and quotas imposed against imports of steel and aluminum based on the 232 trade actions.    
The legislation contains language to require the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to create an exclusion process for the third tranche of Section 301 tariffs within 30 days.  Currently the Administration does not have an exclusion process for this group of products and have said that they would not consider exclusions because the tariffs are set at 10 percent.  

There also is a provision that provides additional funding for the Commerce Department to support “an effective Section 232 exclusion process.”  The legislation requires quarterly reports to Congress on the 232 exclusion process.  

On March 1st, U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) will hold a 21st Century Customs Framework (21CCF) public meeting at the U.S. Department of Commerce. This meeting give the public an opportunity to comment on numerous aspects of CBP's trade mission to better position CBP to operate in the 21st century trade environment. Anyone interested in attending the meeting or participating via teleconference must register online at www.cbp.gov/trade. Registration will remain open until the venue reaches capacity.