Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration
Trade Mission to India Scheduled for November
On June 22, 2006, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Franklin L. Lavin announced that he will personally lead a large business development mission to India from November 29 through December 4, 2006. Geared for U.S. companies ready to make sales in India, the trade mission will begin with a two-day business summit in Mumbai on November 30 and December 1. After the summit, U.S. companies can participate in spin-off missions to one of six cities—Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, or New Delhi—led by the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service. These missions will include market briefings, networking receptions, and one-on-one business appointments. Participants in the trade mission will have access to India’s high-level business, industry, and government representatives. Participants will also have opportunities to gain insights into the country’s trade and investment climate during strategic breakout sessions and one-on-one appointments with prospective agents, distributors, partners, and end-users. India is the world’s fastest-growing free-market democracy, and it presents lucrative opportunities for all types of businesses, especially U.S. companies. In 2005, U.S. merchandise exports to India were almost $8 billion, nearly double the amount in 2002. To receive more information about the trade mission or to register, visit www.export.gov/indiamission.
North American Competitiveness Council Launched
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, Mexican Minister of Economy Sergio Garcia de Alba, and Canadian Minister of Industry Maxime Bernier met with North American business leaders in Washington, D.C., on June 15, 2006, to officially launch the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC). The council is composed of high-level business leaders from each of the three North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners. Each country’s delegation consists of 10 members who will meet annually to provide recommendations and priorities on promoting North American competitiveness globally. In addition, the governments will work with the council to remove barriers to increase the competitiveness of North American firms in the global marketplace and to spur economic growth.
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| U.S., Canadian, and Mexican trade officials meeting in Washington, D.C. on June 15, 2006, to launch the North American Competitiveness Council.
The NACC grew out of a commitment made during the March 2006 meeting of NAFTA heads of state in Cancún, Mexico. It is part of the agenda for the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America, which was launched in March 2005. The SPP is meant to reduce trade barriers and to facilitate economic growth, while improving the security and competitiveness of the three North American partners. The security and prosperity ministers from all three countries are scheduled to hold a meeting with the NACC in early fall 2006 to discuss priorities and to consider new initiatives. For more information, go to the SPP Web site.
Commerce Department Hosts North American Steel Trade Committee Meeting
On May 24–25, 2006, steel industry representatives and government officials from Canada, Mexico, and the United States convened at the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., for the sixth meeting of the North American Steel Trade Committee (NASTC). This meeting was the first of the NASTC since the March 2006 launch of the North American Steel Strategy, a key initiative under the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez opened the meeting by emphasizing the importance of regional strategies to promote North American competitiveness and the NASTC’s positive example of government–industry cooperation under the SPP. North American competitiveness remained a key theme of the two-day meeting, which included presentations and discussion focusing on the Steel Strategy’s three main areas of work: internal trade, external trade, and the industry-led initiative on productivity and competitiveness.
Highlights of the meeting agenda included the recently announced North American Competitiveness Council (NACC), which is designed to promote private-sector input under the SPP for enhancing North America’s competitive position (see related story in this section). Highlights also included the NASTC’s ongoing external trade initiatives, including efforts in the Steel Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; the World Trade Organization Doha Round negotiations; and foreign market distortions.
Mexico will host the next NASTC meeting this fall.
Proposal to Suspend Duties on Emergency Supplies Unveiled
On June 16, 2006, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez announced a proposed regulation that would allow the Department of Commerce to temporarily suspend the collection of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of supplies for use in emergency relief work in areas where the president has declared a state of emergency.
“This administration is committed to making sure the American people have the resources they need in the event of an emergency,” said Gutierrez. “This proposed regulation will help the federal government respond to disasters and help Americans rebuild their lives, cities, and communities.”
Under the proposed regulation, the secretary of commerce would consider written requests for duty waivers on a case-by-case basis. If the secretary determines that it is appropriate to waive duties on particular imports of emergency supplies, he will notify the person who submitted the request and instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow the merchandise to enter the United States free of antidumping and countervailing duties. If the particular merchandise is used in the United States for purposes other than emergency relief work, it may be subject to seizure or other penalty.
There will be a public comment period on this proposal, during which written comments may be submitted to the Department of Commerce. Comments must be submitted no later than 30 days after the regulation’s publication in the Federal Register. After the comment period closes, the department will review the comments and make a final decision.