News

U.S. Department of Commerce Report on Critical Minerals

On June 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce released the interagency report that was submitted to the President pursuant to the Executive Order 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals. The report contains a government-wide action plan, including recommendations to advance research and development efforts, increase domestic activity across the supply chain, streamline permitting, and grow the American critical minerals workforce.

The report outlines five major topics:

  1. A strategy to reduce the Nation’s reliance on critical minerals;
  2. An assessment of progress toward developing critical minerals recycling and reprocessing technologies, and technological alternatives to critical minerals;
  3. Options for accessing and developing critical minerals through investment and trade with our allies and partners;
  4. A plan to improve the topographic, geologic, and geophysical mapping of the United States and make the resulting data and metadata electronically accessible to support private sector mineral exploration of critical minerals; and
  5. Recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.”

The full report can be seen here.

Statement on the United States-CARICOM Trade and Investment Council

On June 6 and 7, 2019, the United States and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held the eighth meeting of the United States-CARICOM Trade and Investment Council (TIC).

The delegations discussed trade and investment related issues such as trade preference programs, intellectual property, trade in services, agricultural matters, and broader regional issues. Additionally, the delegations shared information on current third-party negotiations and implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative welcomed the opportunity to continue engaging on these key issues and stressed the importance of the United States’ economic partnerships with CARICOM Member States.

Members Named to Seven U.S. Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees

On June 11, 2019, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, and the U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, announced the appointment of 140 private-sector members to seven Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released the lists of appointees, by committee:

  • Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee
  • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products
  • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables
  • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Grains, Feed, Oilseeds, and Planting Seeds
  • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Processed Foods
  • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Sweeteners and Sweetener Products
  • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Tobacco, Cotton, and Peanuts

The appointees will serve until June 15, 2023 and the committees will be supplemented by additional appointments over the next four years.

More information can be found here.

President Trump Signs Executive Order on Biotechnology

On June 11, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products. The purpose of the Executive Order is to streamline the regulatory process for biotechnology products by adopting a science-based regulatory system that is timely, efficient and transparent.
Following the signing, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue stated that:

“Our current regulatory framework has impeded innovation instead of facilitating it. With this Executive Order, President Trump is once again putting America first and setting us on a course to modernize our regulatory framework so that it works for our farmers, ranchers, and consumers. We need all the tools in the toolbox to meet the challenge of feeding everyone now and into the future – if we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will.”

The White House statement on the Executive Order can be found here.

U.S., Mexico Reach Deal to Avoid Tariffs

On June 7, 2019, the United States and Mexico reached a deal to combat the migration crisis that averted the U.S. imposing tariffs on Mexico and possible Mexican retaliation. The deal delays the threat of the 5 percent escalating tariffs on all Mexican imports that were set to go into effect on June 10, 2019.

The United States and Mexico commit to:

  1. Mexican Enforcement Surge; and
  2. Migrant Protection Protocol

Both parties agree that if the measures adopted do not have the expected results, they will take further actions.

A review of the agreed upon actions to address irregular migrant flows and asylum issues will be done within 90 days and new measures will be implemented if necessary.

View the entire statement from the State Department here.

 

Notice of Funding Opportunity for Market Access Program

The Notice of Funding Opportunity for the 2020 Market Access Program (MAP) was announced on the Federal Register on May 28, 2019. NAEGA is actively working on an application to secure MAP funding for the 2020 fiscal year. The application is due on June 28, 2019 at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.

USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) anticipates that the initial funding selections will be made by the end of October and the initial award dates estimated to be by the end of December 2019. NAEGA relies on MAP funding for our international programming and for the operations of the International Grain Trade Coalition. Once the application is submitted, we will post a link for Members on the NAEGA Member’s Only website.


The full notice can be found here.

NAEGA & IGTC Travel to London Grain Week

NAEGA President Gary Martin, Senior Advisor Sam Bonilla and International Grain Trade Coalition (IGTC) Secretariat Katy Lee travelled to London from June 9-13 for Grain Week, including meetings with IGTC, International Grains Council (IGC), the United Kingdom’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA). The group took part in a wide range of activities, including the following:

  • At the global IGTC strategy session and the 49th intergovernmental council session of the IGC on June 10 an intensive focus was placed on the successful work of IGTC and its coordination with policies of concern to the grain trade. The current IGTC files addressed at the strategy session and the IGC council session were:
    • Crop protection product approvals & residue measures
    • Innovation in electronic trading documentation
    • Plant breeding innovation
    • Harmonization of phytosanitary control methods and the UN International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
    • Cartagena Biosafety Protocol
    • Low level presence
  • On June 11, Gary and Katy took part in the annual IGC Conference and Sam represented NAEGA at a meeting of the GAFTA International Contacts Committee. All three travelers attended a reception commemorating the success of 70 years of international grain trade cooperation hosted by the Ambassador of Japan and the IGC Chairman.  
  • At the IGC Conference workshops on Wednesday, June 12, Gary chaired an IGTC workshop: “A Dialogue on International Progress through Cooperation” at which cooperation between governments and commercial actors to provide for innovation and enhancement of the trade flows were examined in an interactive session. IGTC also provided grain trade expertise and representation at a workshop held by CropLife International on the same day, with a specific focus on trade impacts of regulation on Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of crop protection products.

The three are preparing final trip reports which will be posted to the NAEGA Member’s Only Website when complete.

Amicus Brief to U.S. Supreme Court – Safe-Berth Clauses

NAEGA members are welcome to join our work to provide for an Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Review of Safe-Berth Clauses in Voyage Charter Agreements re: CITGO Asphalt Ref. Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co. under a Common Interest Agreement (CIA). At issue is the interpretation and scope of the safe berth clause that appears in all charter party agreements. A split has occurred between U.S. Circuit Courts - the Second and Third U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal interpret the safe berth clause to essentially impose strict liability on charterer, versus the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that applies a much more flexible standard. A split among the circuits is one of the strongest bases for granting Supreme Court review. The parties filed a letter granting blanket consent for amicus briefs, which will make things easier for NAEGA to help assemble and submit a brief by the deadline of July 16, 2019.

In a fashion similar to our approach to trade remedy (Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty) and other litigation that requires the sharing of information, participating NAEGA Member companies will work via Special Interest Group (SIG) to provide of the Brief.

Please let Gary Martin (gcmartin@naega.org) know if your company would like to be included in the work to provide for an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Review of Safe-Berth Clauses in Voyage Charter Agreements by June 21.


In a fashion similar to our approach to trade remedy (Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty) and other litigation that requires the sharing of information, participating NAEGA Member companies will work via Special Interest Group (SIG) to provide of the Brief. Please let Gary Martin (gcmartin@naega.org) know if your company would like to be included in the work to provide for an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Review of Safe-Berth Clauses in Voyage Charter Agreements by June 21.

USDA Proposes Part 340 Regulations

On Wednesday, June 5 the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of a proposed rule titled “Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms.” The new rule is, code named SECURE in short for Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible and Efficient, marks the first significant revision of USDA’s biotechnology regulations since they were established in 1987.


A copy of the proposed rule can be found here.

New U.S. Treasury and Commerce Regulations for Cuba

On June 4, 2019 the Trump Administration announced changes that will add new restrictions to travel to Cuba. The actions will not affect business travel, nor do they affect any regulations that govern agricultural or any other business with Cuba.

The changes include:

  1. Elimination of group people-to-people travel. This is the easiest and most popular category of American travel, used by National Geographic, Road Scholar, and many other tour companies. The Administration views these trips as “veiled tourism” and has ended them. People who have already booked flights or lodging under this category will be able to proceed with their trips.
  2. Vessel restrictions. Trump is reversing the Obama Administration policy that made it easy for private planes, yachts, sailboats, and cruise ships to travel to Cuba. It is possible for these vessels to go to Cuba, but they will have to apply for permission and the presumption is that licenses will not be granted. U.S. cruise ship visits to Cuba will end. Commercial airlines are unaffected, except that they are likely to reduce flights if demand falls.