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Short Takes: News from the International Trade Administration
ITA Win: Harley-Davidson Motorcycles Allowed to Enter Bahrain Duty Free
Customs officials in Bahrain denied preferential tariff treatment to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, such as the ones shown here at a recent trade event. Advocacy on behalf of the company by the International Trade Administration resolved the issues that the company was facing. (photo courtesy Harley-Davidson)
The International Trade Administration (ITA) recently helped Harley-Davidson of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to overcome a foreign trade barrier that threatened to hinder its sales in Bahrain, a trading partner in the Middle East with which the United States has had a free trade agreement (FTA) since 2006.
Harley-Davidson’s problem began in late 2008, when the company exported some of its U.S.–manufactured motorcycles to Bahrain through Europe. Under the terms of the FTA, those goods should have entered the country duty free. Instead, the company was assessed a 5 percent duty. The reason offered by Bahraini customs officials was that the motorcycles did not fulfill the FTA’s rules of origin because they had been shipped through Europe and thus were not imported directly from the United States into Bahrain.
In late 2009, after Harley-Davidson contacted the Department of Commerce, a team of ITA specialists, along with representatives from other U.S. government agencies, advocated on behalf of the company. They provided specific guidance to Bahraini officials on the interpretation of the FTA’s rules of origin provisions as the rules applied to transshipped goods, explaining that the FTA’s benefits apply to U.S.-originating goods that stop over in other countries, unless those goods undergo processing outside the United States.
As a result of these efforts, in February 2010 Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles were granted duty-free access and the company has since received a refund of all excess duties paid. In a series of follow-up meetings with Bahraini customs officers, representatives from ITA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection provided training on the application of the FTA.
“This is a good example of how ITA makes trade agreements work for American business and their employees," noted Michael Camuñez, assistant secretary for market access and compliance. “By ensuring that Bahrain lives up to its obligations under our FTA, other U.S. exporters who transship their products to Bahrain will also be able to compete on a level playing field.”
The Department of Commerce is soliciting applications from qualified individuals to serve as members of the U.S.–Brazil CEO Forum for its 2011–13 term. Established in 2007, the forum has advanced discussions between the U.S. and Brazilian governments on important issues, such as visa reform, customs procedures, education, energy, trade facilitation, and infrastructure.
The forum consists of U.S. and Brazilian government cochairs and a committee comprising 8 to 10 private-sector members from each country. The members represent the views and interests of the business community in their respective countries and are joined by representatives from the U.S. and Brazilian governments.
Brazil is an increasingly important market for U.S. exports. With a potential market of 193 million consumers and a per capita income forecasted to grow at an average rate of 6 percent during the next several years, Brazil offers tremendous opportunities to U.S. exporters of goods and services.
A candidate for membership on the forum must be a chief executive officer or president (or functional equivalent) of a U.S.–owned or U.S.–controlled company that is incorporated in the United States and is currently doing business in both countries. Those chosen will serve a two-year term.
Full details about the application process were published in the Federal Register on March 7, 2011 (at 76 FR 12337–38). The announcement can be viewed online at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-5073.htm. Applications must be submitted by April 29, 2011.
For more information, contact Ashley Rosen of the ITA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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