On December 31, 2020, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published in the Federal Register a final rule [NRC–2018–0294] amending its export and import regulations to maintain the regulatory status quo for nuclear exports to the United Kingdom (UK), upon the entry into force of a new civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States (US) and the UK (the US – UK 123 Agreement).
On December 30, 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice that advises the public that the quarterly Internal Revenue Service interest rates used to calculate interest on overdue accounts (underpayments) and refunds (overpayments) of customs duties will remain the same from the previous quarter. For the calendar quarter beginning January 1, 2021, the interest rates for overpayments will be 2 percent for corporations and 3 percent for non-corporations, and the interest rate for underpayments will be 3 percent for both corporations and non-corporations.
On December 29, 2020, the Federal Register published Presidential Proclamation 10128 of December 22, 2020–To Take Certain Actions Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act and for Other Purposes.
On December 23, 2020 the International Trade Administration (ITA) at Commerce, published in the Federal Register a final rule [Docket No. 201014-0270] that adopts the Aluminum Import Monitoring and Analysis (AIM) system by promulgating new regulations (19 C.F.R. Part 361) that establish a website for the AIM system that consists of an online aluminum import license application platform and public AIM monitor; require importers, customs brokers or their agents to apply for and obtain an import license for each entry of certain aluminum products into the United States through the AIM system website, etc. The final rule is effective January 25, 2021.
On December 23, 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register a general notice (CBP Dec. 2019) that notifies the public that, for country of origin marking purposes, imported goods produced in the West Bank, specifically in Area C under the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement (the Oslo Accords), signed on September 28, 1995, and the area known as “H2” under the Israeli-Palestinian Protocol Concerning Redeployment in Hebron and Related Documents (the Hebron Protocol), signed January 17, 1997, must be marked to indicate their origin as “Israel,” “Product of Israel,” or “Made in Israel.” Goods produced in the West Bank, specifically in Areas A and B under the Oslo Accords and the area known as “H1” under the 1997 Hebron Protocol, must be marked to indicate their origin as “West Bank,” “Product of West Bank,” or “Made in West Bank.” Goods produced in Gaza must be marked to indicate their origin as “Gaza,” “Product of Gaza,” “Made in Gaza,” “Gaza Strip,” “Product of Gaza Strip,” or “Made in Gaza Strip.” Imported goods from any of these territorial areas must not include “West Bank/Gaza,” “West Bank/Gaza Strip,” “West Bank and Gaza,” or words of similar meaning.
On December 23, 2020, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a final rule amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by adding a new “Military End User List” (MEU List) as supplement no. 7 to part 744 of the EAR. The final rule adds 102 entities to the MEU List, which will consist of Chinese, Russian, and Venezuelan entities that the US Government has determined are “military end users” for purposes of the MEU rule in EAR § 744.21.
On December 23, 2020, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), in further implementation of Executive Order 13936 (EO 13936), to remove provisions that provide differential and preferential treatment for exports, reexports, and transfers of items to Hong Kong as compared to China. As a result of these changes, Hong Kong will be removed as a separate destination on the Commerce Country Chart and in other places in the EAR, which will affect license exception availability and certain licensing policies and requirements for Hong Kong.
On December 22, 2020, the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published a final rule (“Final Rule”) in the Federal Register adding 77 entities and individuals to the Entity List, including several prominent Chinese multinationals. The Final Rule took effect on December 18, 2020. On the same day, BIS also published FAQs related to its recent expansion of the foreign-produced direct product rule (the “Huawei FPDP Rule”).
On December 22, 2020, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) formally added the Central Bank of Syria (“CBOS”) to the List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”) along with certain high-ranking officials in the Syrian government and affiliated entities. Concurrent with OFAC’s designations, the US State Department (State Department) designated six Syrian individuals pursuant to Section 2 of Executive Order 13894, “Blocking Property and Suspending Entry of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Syria.”
On December 21, 2020, CBP issued, CSMS #45244051 – GUIDANCE: Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Expires effective, December 31, 2020, to inform the Trade that the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), special program indicator (SPI) “A,” “A+,” and “A*”, will expire on December 31, 2020 if no Congressional legislation is passed to renew the program. Until further notice, GSP eligible goods entered or withdrawn from warehouse need to pay “General” (column 1) duty rates effective, January 1, 2021, 12:00 am. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encourages importers to continue to flag GSP eligible importations with SPI “A” during the lapse, starting January 1, 2021.