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This month at the Foreign Trade Association of Los Angeles' 100th anniversary luncheon, we were extremely honored when Lew Coppersmith, the son of our founder Adrienne Coppersmith, was honored as the FTA's 2019 Person of the Year. It was a memorable experience and click through to read about it on our blog and watch a video of the award and his acceptance speech.

Photo Credit: Norman Harris III.
US and China reach phase one agreement - text unreleased, details still murky
The deadline on December 15th which would have brought additional duties on a raft of consumer electronics and other products was narrowly avoided when on Friday the US and China announced an agreement on phase one which committed China to buy more agricultural products and take meaningful steps to improve their treatment of intellectual property rights. In exchange, the US postponed indefinitely the 15% duty planned for list 4b and allegedly thirty days after the agreement is signed, the duty on list 4a is halved from 15% to 7.5%. It is our understanding, however, that the 25% on lists 1, 2 and 3 remain in place.

A reminder: Coppersmith has set up a page on our website to track the latest exclusions issued by the USTR and you can find it here .
Mexico remains behind USMCA after snag over labor enforcement
The panels created to monitor implementation of labor standards in Mexico under the U.S.-Mexico Canada trade deal will consist of independent people, not U.S. government employees, the White House reassured Mexican officials. The tougher enforcement standards are part of changes agreed to by the White House and House Democrats, but were not negotiated with Mexico in advance. Mexico will authorize any attaches sent to observe labor conditions and confirmed it remains behind the North American trade deal.
IMO 2020 retrofits put vessels out of service
January 1st brings the requirement that vessels reduce the amount of sulfur dioxide emitted into the atmosphere and the two ways carriers can meet the requirement are through the use of a lower sulfur fuel or retrofitting vessels with scrubbers to clean engine emissions. The percentage of sulfur in the fuel is being lowered from 3.5% to 0.5% and the more refined fuel requires a higher grade of crude oil for refining and costs more - not unlike the differences between regular and premium gasolines.

For those carriers going the scrubber route, lines are beginning to experience loss of capacity as vessels go to yards to be retrofitted. The work can take several weeks and shipyards are experiencing backlogs, according to Alphaliner. Carriers can also meet the standard by using ultra-low sulfur fuel, but shippers will bear some of the cost as  liner companies are shifting the cost  to the spot market and short-term contracts.
The U.S. Trade Representative is threatening 100% tariffs on $2.4 billion worth of imported wine, cheese, handbags and other products from France in retaliation for the French government's new digital taxes, which the U.S. says overwhelmingly hurts American tech companies. The move could jeopardize efforts at a global compromise.

The Trump administration is considering similar investigations into digital taxes in Austria, Italy and Turkey. Meanwhile, the World Trade Organization said the European Union had not eliminated subsidies for Airbus, essentially giving the U.S. the green light to proceed with authorized tariffs on EU goods.
In addition to the individual action the USTR is contemplating against France, the US is seeking comments to further increase the pressure on the EU and Airbus with even more products subject to an additional 25% duty. The additional duty is in response to the WTO's finding that the EU unfairly subsidized Airbus.

In light of Boeing's announcement they are idling production of the aircraft beginning next month, US airlines have few options for aircraft purchases and US importers of a range of products ranging from seafood to apparel and other goods are facing a widening of reprisals. The USTR is seeking comments in this Federal Register notice.
Happy Holidays from everyone at Coppersmith Global Logistics. A reminder that our offices are closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day and we will be closing early on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. All pre-departure filings and any special services requests should be in our hands by this Friday, December 20th. Thank you very much for your support throughout the year and we look forward to even more success in 2020.
A reminder that this past weekend, our Houston office moved . We've not gone far, though, instead relocating to a larger office and warehouse space within the same building. Our new facility has 35,000 square feet of warehouse space to provide for all your storage, crating and trans-loading needs for our project cargo shippers moving cargo into and out of the Gulf. For more information, contact our Houston manager, Tammy Gabehart.
Boris Johnson's big win in the United Kingdom's elections may have widened the number of seats that his government holds in Parliament but has done little to assuage traders who are trying to determine what the near-certain Brexit will look like . A no-deal Brexit will mean chaos for British importers and exporters and congestion across both the Irish Sea and the English Channel. US businesses should be largely unaffected by cargo going directly to and from the country, but in the worst scenarios would see issues with transshipment air and sea cargo.