News

Amicus Brief to the U.S. Supreme Court

Work by a Special Interest Group (SIG) of members has completed a NAEGA amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court Amicus on Safe-Berth Clauses in Voyage Charter Agreements re: CITGO Asphalt Ref. Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co.  The brief can be found through this link.  At issue is the interpretation and scope of the safe berth clause that appears in all charter party agreements. A split 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. There were two other amicus briefs filed on the same day also in support of the Petitioners all the relevant proceedings and submissions can be found here:

The oral argument has been set for Tuesday, November 5. The second case to be heard that day is another shipping-related case: the Blackbeard pirate ship copyright case.

NAEGA would like to thank the SIG members for their contributions and sponsorship of the NAEGA brief. 

New MERCOSUR LLP Policy

On June 6, 2019, MERCOSUR approved a new Low-Level Presence (LLP) policy entitled “Mechanism To Decrease the Occurrence of Low Level Presence LLP of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in Member States”. 

The policy includes regional risk assessment sharing and regional recommendation of LLP threshold levels, with a goal of reducing the risk of trade disruptions in the region. A copy of the policy can be found here.

Standards and Development Facility Releases 2018 Annual Report

On June 7, 2019 the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF)  2018 Annual Report was published. The publication highlights how investing in safe trade, from food safety to animal and plant health, opens up opportunities for small-scale farmers, processors, traders and governments in developing countries to meet international standards and secure local livelihoods. STDF’s 2018 report, as well as a database of past reports, can be found through this link.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Japan GE Food Labeling

The Japanese Government has finalized a genetically engineered (GE) food labeling regulation that is scheduled to come into effect in 2023. The new regulation establishes a new definition for “non-GE” labeling, which will be allowed only when GE elements are not detectable. Japan’s current labeling system allows for a product containing up to five percent of GE components, which are unintentionally comingled into the product, to be labeled as “non-GE.” As a result of concern that this was misleading, regulators have agreed to create new labeling language for Identity Preserved (IP) products containing up to five percent of unintentional commingled GE components and a zero percent threshold for voluntary “non-GE” labeling.

A copy of the GAIN report with more details on these changes is available here.

USMCA Statement of Administrative Action

On Thursday, May 31 the U.S. Trade Representative released its draft statement of administrative action to Congressional leadership on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The draft statement provides an outline for further discussion with Congress on issues related to the USMCA as Congress considers implementing legislation. The release of the draft statement kicks off a 30 days time period after which Congress could begin to consider and act upon implementing legislation. After these 30 days, Congress could pass USMCA in as little as 90 days.

A copy of the draft statement can be found here.

U.S. OFAC Terrorist Assets Report

On May 29, 2019, OFAC released the 2018 Terrorist Assets Report. The 2018 Terrorist Assets report is an annual report provided to Congress outlining the nature and extent of assets held in the U.S. by terrorism-supporting countries and organizations engaged in international terrorism.

Terrorist organizations such as al’Qai’da (AQ) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are examples of terrorist organizations mentioned in the report.

Countries labeled as “state-sponsors of terrorism” and which may have trade restrictions include:

  • Iran
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • North Korea

The full report can be found here.