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It’s August in an Election Year – No Rest for the Trump Administration on Trade Actions

Despite the Congressional recess and continued focus on COVID-19 economic relief, Trump officials announced several major trade actions over the last week that could impact global trade and supply chains.  Here is a quick round-up of recent developments and what may be coming next.

  • On Thursday, August 6, President Donald Trump signed four executive actions related to trade.

    • An executive order on Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs are Made in the United States, which directs agencies to consider how they can increase domestic procurement and identify vulnerabilities in supply chains for these products.

    • A proclamation reimposing Section 232 tariffs on imports of unwrought, unalloyed aluminum from Canada, effective August 16.  US producers of primary aluminum alleged that imports of these products surged after Section 232 tariffs were lifted in May 2019; Canadian officials argued that the markets were responding to COVID-19.

    • Two executive orders aimed at Chinese social media apps TikTok and WeChat, and their parent companies. Further details are available here.

  • On Friday, August 7, Canadian officials responded to the Section 232 tariff action, releasing a list of $2.7 billion worth of aluminum and aluminum-containing goods from the United States that could be subject to retaliatory tariffs.  The list will be subject to a comment period before the final list of goods subject to tariffs is released, but Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that she envisions a “dollar-for-dollar” approach.

  • On Tuesday, August 11, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a notice in the Federal Register that requires goods originating in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong) to be marked as being made in the People’s Republic of China (China).  This action could lead to the imposition of existing Section 301 tariffs on these goods.  Further details are available here.

  • On Monday, August 10, the Commerce Department and European Commission initiated discussions to evaluate the potential for an enhanced EU-US Privacy Shield framework to comply with the July 16 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) in the Schemes II case, which invalidated the original framework for the cross-border data transfers of personal information from the EU to the United States.  The Commerce Department hopes to limit the negative consequences of the invalidated agreement.

    • Here is our latest transatlantic trade report.

As part of his remarks at a Whirlpool manufacturing facility in Ohio last Thursday, President Trump suggested that additional trade actions could follow.  It is not clear whether he was referring to the TikTok/WeChat executive orders, which were signed later that afternoon.  Furthermore, the Office of the US Trade Representative is expected to announce whether and how it will modify the tariff list in the large civil aircraft dispute with the EU as soon as this week.

August is traditionally a quiet time in Washington, especially in an election year, but not for trade.  Our team continues to track developments and advise clients on how to shape their supply chains and operations in response to the latest developments.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume X, Number 225


About this Author

Frank Samolis, Squire Patton Boggs Law Firm, International Trade Attorney

Frank Samolis is co-chair of our International Trade Practice. He advises clients on international trade matters, including trade law, trade policy and legislation, and international trade negotiations. He is also chair of our India Practice Group and the leader of our Colombia Desk, Latin America Task Force.

Frank handles matters before the Office of the US Trade Representative, other Executive Branch Trade agencies, the US International Trade Commission, US Court of International Trade, US Customs Service and the US Congress. Frank has represented foreign sovereigns or foreign...

Ludmilla Kasulke Trade Attorney Squire Patton Boggs Washington DC
Senior Associate

Ludmilla (Milla) Kasulke draws on her experience in both domestic and international policy to assist clients on trade matters. Milla provides multinational corporations, sovereign governments and entities, and quasi-government entities with advice on a wide range of trade policy, legal, and regulatory issues. She has been actively engaged in all aspects of the Section 232 process, including the exclusion petition process, and regularly advises clients on the impacts of current and potential new actions. Milla also regularly counsels clients on the impacts of current and potential new trade negotiations, including the US-Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and US-Japan and -EU talks.

Prior to law school, Milla was the special assistant to the chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, where she gained first-hand experience in the daily operations of the executive branch. While at the council, she worked closely with the chairman and his team of policy advisors in the development and management of significant administration policies and programs, such as the Major Economies Meetings on Energy Security and Climate Change.

While in law school, Milla served as the assistant to former White House Counsel and former US Ambassador to the European Union C. Boyden Gray. She was elected as a vice president on the executive board of the Student Bar Association, where she represented part-time student interests. Additionally, she was an active member of the Georgetown Journal of Law & Public Policy staff, where she served as a symposium director.