Eyes on the Americas Trade and Investment Act

On March 6, 2024 Senators Bill Cassidy (LA), Michael Bennet (CO), Adriano Espaillat (NY), and Maria Elvira Salazar (FL) introduced the Americas Trade and Investment Act with the endorsement and co-sponsorship from Congressman Mike Gallagher, Wisconsin Representative and the Chairman of the House Select China Committee Chairman. The proposed bipartisan legislation aims to minimize U.S. dependence on Chinese manufacturing specifically through tax incentives, loans, and grants for businesses looking to re-shore and near-shore their manufacturing and distribution activities.

The proposed legislation is based on five pillars:

(1) The Americas Partnership;

(2) E-Governance;

(3) Trade;

(4) Investment; and

(5) People-to-People.

Each pillar provides opportunity to enact change in areas such as domestic circular businesses and textile manufacturing; reshoring and nearshoring efforts by U.S. businesses; reducing exposure to forced labor in Xinjiang; and closing the glaring de minimis loophole that currently impacts the Foreign Trade Zone program.

This landmark bill will be referred to the Senate Finance Committee following its public announcement. Though it faces a long legislative road ahead before becoming law, MITA, along with the rest of the international trade community, will be closely monitoring its progress and the possible impacts it could bring to U.S. businesses.

Find more information on this proposed legislation here:


The Ripples of U.S. – China Trade Tensions

The United States and China, two of the largest economies in the world, continue to compete in both national security and economic output. The impacts of this rivalry can be seen across industries, including a focus on advanced technologies and renewable energies. While each nation seeks complete economic independence and national autonomy from the other, the mutually reliant markets established make a total separation more difficult than desired.

The most prominent world market continues to be the field of technology, as it is not only one of the most significant economic drivers but also plays a crucial role in the everchanging landscape of national security. Within the technology industry, the U.S. and China have placed a focus on controlling the development of high-performance semiconductors and the manufacturing equipment necessary to produce these chips. Many technology and manufacturing companies in China and the U.S. have established business operations that are reliant on the ability to ship goods and equipment between both nations. In light of recent regulations by the U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”), Kearney’s 2023 Reshoring Index indicated that over 95% of U.S. CEOs plan to reshore their production from China, including companies such as Google, Intel, Amazon, and Microsoft.1 A key example comes from Massachusetts-based semiconductor testing equipment company, Teradyne, who pulled about $1 billion worth of manufacturing equipment out of China following the October, 2022 restrictions.[1]

For most of the semiconductor and advanced technology companies, the move out of China was not much of a choice. The new U.S. chip regulations have severely limited the capacity and type of semiconductors or manufacturing equipment that is allowed to be shipped into China.[2] To counterbalance the impacts of the new controls, some companies have attempted to produce goods in China that would only be sold to the domestic Chinese market. For example, Nvidia has started accepting pre-orders for a new China-specific artificial intelligence (“AI”) chip, the H20, hoping to keep stride with Chinese Technology leader, Huawei.[3]  Prior to the recent U.S. regulations, Nvidia had more than a 90% share of China’s AI chip market, but now navigating the restrictions will require their best effort to even compete. It has become nearly impossible to compete with the Chinese companies in China, as they receive subsidies on electricity, raw materials, land and are eligible for contracts from the Chinese government. Even if companies are not bringing production back into the United States, many are moving their manufacturing hubs out of China and into allied nations such as India, Vietnam, or Thailand.

The U.S. is also heavily reliant on China for key components of the solar and EV product market. According to a report by the International Energy Agency (“IEA”), China is responsible for 80% of solar cells and assembled panels. In the EV market alone, China accounts for 60% of global battery-grade lithium produced.[4] If the tensions between China and the U.S. continue to develop as they have, both U.S. users and manufacturers of clean energy products, like solar or EV, are potentially going to require new suppliers or adjusted operational strategies.

The trade tensions between the U.S. and China do not only stem from economic concerns, but equally from perceived threats to national security. The growing rivalry has placed new microscope on any U.S. company who has ties to China or Chinese business partners. One of the largest examples of this comes from a U.S. legacy automaker, Ford Motor Company. Ford is currently under an ongoing investigation due to their partnership with China-based Electronic Vehicle (“EV”) battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (“CATL”) to build a new Michigan Factory.5 Wisconsin Congressman, and Chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Mike Gallagher, has noted that Ford planned to use technology and software from four Chinese companies who also supply similar technology to the Chinese military and North Korea. On the matter, Chairman Gallagher said, It is indefensible for Ford to use the same cloud integration and data provider that is linked to North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs sanctions evasion activity.”5  

The repercussions of these actions by both the U.S. and China  can be felt across all markets as the international supply chain landscape is constantly changing. China saw a drastic decrease in export activity to the U.S. across all industries in 2023. As both countries continue their attempts to dominate particular industries and disentangle themselves from each other, companies are left to regularly adjust their own strategies and supply chains.

MITA Announces Its 2024 Board of Directors Election Results

The Madison International Trade Association is proud to welcome Chrissy Blanchard and Chris Rosborough to its board of directors. The newly elected members will serve a three-year term on the MITA Board of Directors starting January 1, 2024.

Chrissy Blanchard, a Certified Global Business Professional through NASBITE International, manages all aspects of US import/export processes for RBP Chemical Technology, Inc. Her role includes managing international sales support, order administration, documentation/recordkeeping, logistics, and export compliance. Chris Rosborough, a Senior Director for Tax Services at RSM US LLP, assists clients with multi-state and international operations in the manufacturing, wholesale distribution, and real estate industries. He has extensive experience in corporate reorganizations, credits and incentives, cost segregation, and all areas of state and local taxation.

MITA also recognizes Dan Brink, Attorney at Dewitt LLP,  as a re-elected Board Member for the new, three-year term starting January 1, 2024.

Continuing members on the board of directors also include:

  • Poonam Arora of Arnold Magnetics
  • Rome Rauter of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Phil Gantz of Wells Fargo Bank
  • Germaine Krystowiak of Swarming Technology
  • Aleda Bourassa of International Customs Services Inc.
  • Alison Jacobs of FTI Consulting, Inc.
  • Carla Kutsche of STAR7
  • Maureen Muldoon, Independent

MITA also recognizes two departing board members, Paul Jarzombek of LR International and Maria Cartier of Port of Milwaukee, who served on MITA’s board for several years and have been instrumental in our recent membership, marketing, and programming initiatives!

USMCA Panel Rules in Favor of Canadian Dairy Tariffs

Trade Dispute Panel Rules Against U.S. Claim of Unfair Canadian Dairy Tariffs Rate Quotas

On Friday, November 24th , a dispute settlement panel created under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) released a final report approving Canada’s most recent dairy Tariff-Rate Quota (“TRQs”) requirements. This finding that Canadian TRQs do not breach USMCA obligations, “flies in the face of the agreement our country made with Canada and puts our Made in Wisconsin dairy products at a disadvantage”, as stated by U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin. A full copy of the panel’s final report can be found here.

In 2022, the United States gained a favorable opinion from the same panel created under the USMCA, finding that Canada was breaching its commitments under the agreement by reserving most of the in- quota quantity in its dairy TRQs for the exclusive use of Canadian processors. Following this panel decision, Canada modified its TRQ requirements to comply with their USMCA commitment. The updated TRQ policy includes measures to use a market-share approach for determining TRQ allocations, and prevents retailers, food service operators, and other listed types of importers from utilizing TRQ allocations. The United States, via U.S. Trade Representative and Ambassador Katherine Tai, similarly challenged the updated Canadian TRQs, claiming that they still resulted in an undue restraint on U.S. dairy farmers exporting to the Canadian market.

While two of the three panelists concluded that Canada’s updated TRQs do not impose an undue restraint or violate any commitments under the USMCA, one panelist did agree with the claims by Ambassador Tai. The panelist stated that the narrow scope of applicants allowed under Canada’s TRQs significantly limits a large number of other Canadian importers who would be eager to bring U.S. dairy products to Canada. The dissenting panelist specified that Canada breached its USMCA commitment to make its dairy TRQs available to all applicants active in the Canadian food or agriculture sector.

Ruling that Canada’s TRQ requirements for applicants do not violate their commitment under the USMCA, poses a threat to both the U.S. Dairy Farmers and the Canadian Dairy Importers. The United States is a global leader in both dairy production and quality, and this ruling fights against an international dairy industry that provides for 150,000 jobs and $45.6 billion in state revenue in Wisconsin alone. Moreover, it prevents Canadian retailers and food service operators from accessing a steady and affordable supply of so desired quality U.S. dairy products. Senator Baldwin further stated, “This decision should have resulted in necessary improvements for market access for American dairy products in Canada, but instead sets a disturbing precedent that weakens the ability to use USMCA to push back against trade violations moving forward.”

Following the unfavorable outcome of this most recent USMCA panel, Ambassador Tai and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made the comments below, reaffirming their staunch commitment to protecting the benefits that U.S. Farmers, processors, and exporters were promised under the USMCA.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack: “The United States won the first USMCA case on Canada’s dairy TRQ allocation system with the ultimate goal of securing fair market access for U.S. dairy farmers, workers, processors, and exporters. Although we are disappointed in the outcome of this second case, we brought this case to refine and expand upon our win in the first case. We will continue to voice deep concerns about Canada’s system. We remain focused on securing the market access we believe Canada committed to under the USMCA and we will continue exploring all avenues available to achieve that goal.”

U.S. Ambassador Katherine Tai: “Despite the conclusions of this report, the United States continues to have serious concerns about how Canada is implementing the dairy market access commitments it made in the Agreement.  While the United States won a previous USMCA dispute on Canada’s dairy TRQ allocation measures, Canada’s revised policies have still not fixed the problem for U.S dairy farmers.  We will continue to work to address this issue with Canada, and we will not hesitate to use all available tools to enforce our trade agreements and ensure that U.S. workers, farmers, manufacturers, and exporters receive the full benefits of the USMCA.”

Baldwin Blasts Decision to Allow Canada’s Unfair Dairy Trade Practices to Stand, Hurting Wisconsin Farmers

USMCA Panel Releases Canada Dairy Report; Biden-Harris Administration Will Continue Seeking Full USMCA Benefits for U.S. Dairy

What are they saying? USMCA Dairy Ruling

Customs Audit Photo

Tips for a Successful Customs Audit: Event Recap

With the new fiscal year starting on October 1st, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) will begin to notify U.S. importers of their selection for and required participation in various audit and assessment programs. As FTI Consulting’s (“FTI”), Alison Jacobs, Courtney Stiers, and Matt Williams discussed, Customs has been increasingly focused on enforcement recently, and importers can probably expect this trend to continue into the next fiscal year.

MITA kicked off the 2023-2024 program year on September 19th by partnering with FTI Consulting to host a webinar focused on CBP audits and assessment programs. The presentation included a discussion on how to engage with Customs during an audit or assessment, how to provide information efficiently and carefully to Customs, and how to make sure your compliance programs and internal controls are prepared now for the possibility of an audit or assessment in the future. Relying on their own experience in developing compliance programs and guiding their clients through Customs audits, the speakers were able to share a valuable perspective on what Customs is looking for and where importers regularly make small mistakes, such as missing deadlines for questionnaire responses or providing too much information to Customs. These small mistakes can have big impacts.

As FTI mentioned throughout their presentation, “you don’t have to get ready if you stay ready.” Importers who develop strong compliance programs, perform their own audits of these programs, and stay up to date on recent regulatory changes and updates will be better prepared if selected for a Customs audit.

MITA members not only get access to valuable programs like these throughout the year, but the opportunity to network with other importers, brokers, and service providers within the international trade industry in Wisconsin. What better way to stay up to date on new trends, regulatory changes, and insights in international  trade than by engaging with a community of other trade professionals? Sign up today for a MITA membership and don’t miss our next event on “Mastering the Current Global Supply Chain Landscape” on October 10th  at the Fluno Center in Madison, WI.

Register Here: https://www.mitatrade.org/event_item/mastering-the-current-global-supply-chain-landscape/

Check out FTI Consulting services here: https://www.fticonsulting.com/services/investigations-and-monitorships/export-controls-sanctions-trade


USITC Findings on Foreign Trade Zones

For the first time since 1988, the US Trade Representative (“USTR”) requested that the US International Trade Commission (“USITC”) evaluate the foreign Trade zone (“FTZ”) program, specifically evaluating the program’s impact on employment and competitiveness of goods produced in FTZs.[1] Thus, the USITC instituted the “Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs): Effects of FTZ Policies and Practices on U.S. Firms Operating in U.S. FTZs and Under Similar Programs in Canada and Mexico” investigation.

Following a review of questionnaire responses from FTZ Operators and other data collected about US FTZ use, the USITC released their final report on May 15, 2023. This extensive report includes the following highlights:

  1. U.S. FTZ Operators regularly see increased cost competitiveness. Firms utilizing the FTZ program, specifically for manufacturing activity, experienced duty cost savings of $1.2 billion in 2021. These savings are primarily achieved through duty deferral on shipments that make customs entry in the United States and duty exemption on direct export shipments.  
  • The FTZ Program drives U.S. employment and investment. This study found that FTZ activity creates opportunities for employment and investment beyond just FTZ operators. For example, the USITC found a trend of “supplier firms cluster[ing] around [FTZ] facilities.” Thus, regions with FTZ activity generally see additional employment and development.
  • FTZ Operators are regularly missing an opportunity for duty savings on “indirect export shipments”. This investigation reported about 77 percent of export shipments being “indirectly exported,” meaning the shipment was previously entered into U.S. commerce before being exported. This is a significant opportunity for duty savings by FTZ Operators that is not being utilized.
  • FTZ Operators continue to be disadvantaged by U.S. De Minimis provisions. U.S. FTZ provisions require FTZ Operators of warehousing and distribution zones to pay duty on shipments valued at less than $800 even though those shipments would normally be below the de minimis threshold and duty free for U.S. Importers. These provisions regularly push companies to set up warehouse or distribution facilities in Canada or Mexico rather than keeping that activity in the U.S.

Overall, this report highlights the many economic benefits of the FTZ program, but it also highlights the work still to be done in leveling playing field between U.S. FTZ operators and their foreign competitors. This is only a report of facts and findings, but it may be crucial to future policy development for the FTZ program. 

[1] This factfinding investigation by the USITC is conducted under section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930.

Supply Chain

Message from MITA’s new President, Carla Kutsche

I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the recently elected Madison International Trade Association (MITA) President for 2023 and to welcome you to another year of informing, networking and connecting with MITA.

I, along with the Executive Team of Dan Brink (Vice President), Phil Gantz (Treasurer) and Maureen Muldoon (Secretary), as well as the entire Board of Directors, are excited to serve you this year.  Board of Director elections were held in December. We are pleased to welcome four new directors to the Board. Below is a list of the 2023 Board Directors. Their contact information can be found on the MITA website.

  • Poonam Arora, Arnold Magnetics
  • Aleda Bourassa, International Customs Services, Inc. (ICS)
  • Dan Brink, Dewitt LLP
  • Maria Magyar Cartier, Port Milwaukee
  • Phil Gantz, Wells Fargo
  • Nicole Hess, M.E. Dey
  • Alison Jacobs, FTI Consulting
  • Paul Jarzombek, LR International
  • Germaine Krystowiak, Swarming Technology
  • Carla Kutsche, STAR7
  • Maureen Muldoon, Trek Bicycle Inc.(retired)
  • Jenny Patzlaff, UWEBC
  • Rome Rauter, WEDC

Your Board is hard at work planning programming for this year and is excited that we are again hosting events in person at the Fluno Center in Madison, Wisconsin.  I encourage all of you to take full advantage of our luncheons which offer quality programming, delicious food and in-person networking with significant benefits which cannot be realized in a webinar. 

Our January and February in person events were well attended and we hope to build on that attendance at future events.  Speaking of future events, our March Program, Ukraine – Post Conflict Economic Development taking place March 14, 2023, will offer a timely presentation on the latest economic development opportunities in Ukraine.  To learn more and register, visit our website.

Thank you for your continued support and participation in MITA. I would love to hear from you with feedback, questions and suggestions.  My and the Board’s goal is to bring maximum value to you and your organizations as you navigate the field of international trade.  I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event!


Carla Kutsche

President, Madison International Trade Association

Section 301 Tariffs on Chinese-Origin Goods: 4 Years In

Overall, most trade analysts agree that the Section 301 tariffs have not succeeded in decoupling the U.S. and Chinese economies. Rather, they have highlighted some industries and sectors where the U.S. is still heavily reliant on China and where other countries and domestic sources may not be able to meet U.S. demand.

In 2017, the U.S. implemented punitive tariffs on products of Chinese origin following an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. These tariffs were implemented beginning in 2018 and 2019 through a series of lists covering over $350 billion worth of goods. As the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) continues its statutorily required four-year review of the effectiveness of these tariff measures, it initiated a request for comments and issued a stakeholder questionnaire to examine the effectiveness of the tariffs in achieving the objectives of the original investigation. USTR also requested input on other actions that could be taken to address trade with China and the effects of the tariffs on the United States economy, including businesses and consumers. However, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics’ article Four years into the trade war, are the US and China decoupling?, trade trends four years after implementation seem to reveal that the U.S. may be more reliant on China than was originally anticipated.

Though U.S. imports of Chinese products subject to these tariffs sharply declined in 2018 shortly after implementation, trade activity since then has continued to rise. China is currently the source of 18% of total U.S. imports. This upward trend, and continued reliance on China, is likely due to importers finding practical means of relief, such as seeking exclusions from these tariffs for their imported products and implementing numerous duty mitigation strategies, such as tariff engineering, FTZs and drawback, to help offset some of the increased cost of procurement from China. Further, some importers are stuck paying these additional tariffs because sources of their goods outside of China are not available or not viable.

While U.S. imports of Chinese products subject to Section 301 tariffs were drastically reduced, U.S. imports of Chinese products that were not subject to these tariffs surged. This development is clearly seen in the import data of laptops, monitors, video game consoles, and smart phones, all consumer goods which have been spared. Throughout the Covid 19 pandemic, China remained a consistent source of these items, suggesting the U.S. is, and will remain, heavily reliant on China.

Many other countries were able to fill gaps in supply left by decreased imports from China. U.S. imports from the rest of world are 38% higher than before the tariffs were put in place; however, these other economies were not always able to meet the growing U.S. demand. This trend is evident when you look at the import activity of semiconductors. While import volumes from China have fallen from 47% to 39%, volumes from the rest of world have only grown by 5%. This is due to China’s ability to produce “legacy” chips for low profit margins while competitors in other countries did not have much interest in switching to these less profitable products.

Overall, most trade analysts agree that the Section 301 tariffs have not succeeded in decoupling the U.S. and Chinese economies. Rather, they have highlighted some industries and sectors where the U.S. is still heavily reliant on China and where other countries and domestic sources may not be able to meet U.S. demand. The current administration has largely continued the trade policy with China put in place by the prior administration and has not indicated that the tariffs will be removed or altered in the near future. Meanwhile, the USTR sought additional insight and data from stakeholders to better understand the broader economic and industry specific impacts of these tariffs. While U.S. importers must continue to navigate the global procurement landscape with these tariffs in play, the USTR’s analysis may provide a central opportunity to understand the effects of the tariffs to US operations and perhaps shape the direction of any potential changes to U.S.-China trade policy.

Supply Chain Updates from M.E. Dey & Co.

Each week, M.E. Dey shares important stories related to trade and the supply chain. Here are the headlines…

How the Russia-Ukraine war is worsening shipping snarls and pushing up freight rates (CNBC)‘Prepare for Turmoil’: China’s virus lockdowns ramp up supply-chain risks (SCMP)FMC Meeting Scheduled for March 16th Discussing Enforcement Activities (FMC)Weekly Supply Chain Disruption Roundup (NCBFAA)
Be Sure to Monitor Tariff Treatment of Russian Imports Staged or En Route for Transport and Entry into the U.S. (via NCBFAA) 

With the recent announcement that the U.S. will revoke Russia’s Most Favored Nation Duty Status, NCBFAA urges its members to monitor Customs and Border Protection’s CSMS and other trade-facing announcements as to when goods originating from Russia for U.S. consumption will be subject to exponentially higher column two duty rates. While such tariff rate changes typically track the date of entry for consumption or withdrawal from warehouse, it is possible that they may track the date of export from Russia, in this latter case where goods already exported, but not yet entered, may not carry the higher duty rates.
China Tariff Refund Litigation Still Open to Importers (via ST&R)

The U.S. has assessed additional tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods over the years pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. Almost all previous exclusions have expired, reinstatements have been slow, and the Biden administration has given no indication of any intent to remove or revise the tariffs.

Litigation currently before the Court of International Trade, first filed in 2020, and since joined by thousands of importers, is continuing to challenge the Section 301 tariffs on List 3 and 4A goods from China. Importers can still preserve their rights to possible refunds of these tariffs by joining the case.

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. (ST&R) can assist in helping you file a claim by contacting attorneys Larry Ordet, Lenny Feldman, Rob DeCamp, or David Cohen at 301Litigation@strtrade.com.
Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Reconsidering Dwell Fee on March 18th (via NCBFAA)

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have continued to postpone their “Container Dwell Fee,” and said they will reconsider its possible imposition on Feb. 25. 

The executive directors of both ports will reassess fee implementation after monitoring data over the next week. Fee implementation has been postponed by both ports since it was announced on Oct. 25, but it remains a threat to the industry. Under the temporary policy approved Oct. 29 by the Harbor Commissions of both ports, ocean carriers can be charged for each import container that falls into one of two categories: In the case of containers scheduled to move by truck, ocean carriers could be charged for every container dwelling nine days or more. For containers moving by rail, ocean carriers could be charged if a container has dwelled for six days or more. The fee has been set at $100 per container, increasing in $100 increments per container per day of excess dwell time beyond the prescribed period.

Thinking about joining MITA? Let Beth from Milwaukee Tool tell you why she joined this year

In this Spotlight story you’ll hear from Beth Amestica, Trade Compliance Analyst with Milwaukee Tool.  As a new member, we talked to Beth about why she joined MITA and what she’s already gained from her membership.  Read on to hear what she has to say.

Why did you decide to join MITA?
A friend, who has been a member of MITA, invited me to join a webinar series back in February of 2021. I was so impressed with the quality of the programming:  from the moderators, to the seasoned and well-experienced speakers and panelists, to the relevant and impactful content. I made a decision that day that this is something that I can’t afford to miss and that becoming a member will avail me of such great programming and much more.
What value has MITA provided to you since you have become a member?
Since I’ve been a member, I was able to join MITA’s webinars and hear from top-notch speakers and panelists. I learned from their expertise and experiences in trade compliance, logistics, supply chain, and trade regulations, which I find highly valuable being new to this industry. My network has also grown immensely.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet great leaders and key players from the biggest organizations as well as from promising young companies in Wisconsin.
What benefits do you find the most valuable?
It’s absolutely a true total package! The benefits I am receiving as a member of this prestigious organization is invaluable.
How has being part of MITA impacted you personally and professionally?
I have only been in the industry for a couple of years and what I have learned from each webinar, from each roundtable discussion, and from each member of this organization has accelerated my growth professionally as I navigate through the world of trade compliance.  Being a member has amplified my self-confidence as I surround myself with the sharpest and most knowledgeable people in this industry.