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Rule

Imported Directly Requirement Under the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security; Department of the Treasury.

ACTION:

Interim final rule; solicitation of comments.

SUMMARY:

This document amends the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations in title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR) on an interim basis to change certain provisions relating to the requirement under the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (BFTA) that a good must be “imported directly” from one Start Printed Page 23950BFTA Party to the other Party to qualify for preferential tariff treatment. The change involves removing the condition that a good passing through the territory of an intermediate country while en route from a Party to the other Party must remain under the control of the customs authority of the intermediate country. This change more closely conforms these regulatory provisions to the BFTA and the BFTA implementing statute.

DATES:

This interim final rule is effective May 22, 2009. Comments must be received on or before July 21, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments, identified by docket number, by one of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments via docket number USCBP-2009-0015.
  • Mail: Trade and Commercial Regulations Branch, Regulations and Rulings, Office of International Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 799 9th Street, NW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20229-1179.

Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the “Public Participation” heading of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Submitted comments may be inspected during regular business days between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the Trade and Commercial Regulations Branch, Regulations and Rulings, Office of International Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 799 9th Street, NW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC. Arrangements to inspect submitted comments should be made in advance by calling Mr. Joseph Clark at (202) 325-0118.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Karen Greene, Regulations and Rulings, Office of International Trade, (202) 325-0041.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Public Participation

Interested persons are invited to participate in this rulemaking by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of the interim final rule. CBP also invites comments that relate to the economic, environmental, or federalism effects that might result from this interim final rule. Comments that will provide the most assistance to CBP will reference a specific portion of the interim final rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information, or authority that support such recommended change. See ADDRESSES above for information on how to submit comments.

Background

On September 14, 2004, the United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain (the Parties) signed the U.S.-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement (BFTA). The provisions of the BFTA were adopted by the United States with the enactment on January 11, 2006, of the United States-Bahrain Free Trade Area Implementation Act (the Act), Public Law 109-169, 119 Stat. 3581 (19 U.S.C. 3805 note).

On October 16, 2007, CBP published CBP Dec. 07-81 in the Federal Register (72 FR 58511), setting forth interim amendments to implement the preferential tariff treatment and customs-related provisions of the BFTA. The majority of the BFTA implementing regulations were included within new subpart N in part 10 of the CBP regulations (19 CFR subpart N, part 10). In CBP Dec. 08-23, published in the Federal Register on July 23, 2008 (73 FR 42679), CBP adopted the interim regulations set forth in CBP Dec. 07-81 as a final rule with two technical corrections.

Section 10.817(a) of the CBP regulations implementing the BFTA sets forth the basic requirement, found in Article 4.1 of the BFTA, that a good must be “imported directly” from the territory of a Party into the territory of the other Party to qualify as an originating good under the BFTA. In circumstances in which a shipment passes through the territory of a non-Party, § 10.817(a)(2) provides that a good will be considered to be “imported directly” only if the good: (i) Remained under the control of the customs authority of the non-Party; and (ii) did not undergo production, manufacturing, or any other operation outside the territories of the Parties, other than certain specified minor operations. Nearly identical language to that found in § 10.817(a) appears in § 10.822(a), relating to the application of the “imported directly” requirement to certain non-originating textile and apparel goods that qualify for preferential tariff treatment under an applicable tariff preference level (TPL).

Article 4.9 of the BFTA provides that a good shall not be considered to be “imported directly” from the territory of the other Party if the good undergoes subsequent production, manufacturing, or any other operation outside the territories of the Parties, other than unloading, reloading, or any other operation necessary to preserve it in good condition or to transport the good to the territory of the other Party. Section 202(g) of the Act mirrors the language in Article 4.9 of the Agreement. Neither the BFTA nor the Act includes a requirement that a good must remain under the control of the customs authority of a non-Party to qualify as having met the “imported directly” requirement when the good passes through the territory of a non-Party.

Explanation of Amendments

It has been brought to the attention of CBP that there is no explicit requirement in the BFTA or the Act that a good must remain under the control of the customs authority of a non-Party to qualify as having been “imported directly” from a Party. Therefore, to more closely conform paragraph (a)(2) of §§ 10.817 and 10.822 to the Agreement and the Act, these regulatory provisions have been revised in this interim rule document to remove the “customs control” requirement. Specifically, paragraph (a)(2)(i) of §§ 10.817 and 10.822 has been removed and text of current paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of §§ 10.817 and 10.822 has been incorporated into the paragraph (a)(2) introductory text of these sections.

CBP notes that these changes provide consistency between the BFTA implementing regulations and the CBP regulations implementing the United States-Morocco Free Trade Agreement (MFTA) relating to the “imported directly” requirement under these two FTAs. The language in the BFTA and MFTA and the two implementing statutes are nearly identical in regard to this requirement.

Inapplicability of Notice and Delayed Effective Date Requirements

Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553), agencies generally are required to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register that solicits public comment on the proposed regulatory amendments, consider public comments in deciding on the content of the final amendments, and publish the final amendments at least 30 days prior to their effective date. However, section 553(a)(1) of the APA provides that the standard prior notice and comment Start Printed Page 23951procedures do not apply to an agency rulemaking to the extent that it involves a foreign affairs function of the United States. CBP has determined that these interim amendments involve a foreign affairs function of the United States because they modify regulatory provisions that implement preferential tariff treatment provisions under the BFTA. Therefore, the rulemaking requirements under the APA do not apply and this interim rule will be effective upon publication. However, CBP is soliciting comments in this interim rule and will consider all comments received before issuing a final rule.

Executive Order 12866

CBP has determined that this document is not a regulation or rule subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993 (58 FR 51735, October 1993), because it pertains to a foreign affairs function of the United States and, therefore, is specifically exempted by section 3(d)(2) of Executive Order 12866.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required under the APA for the reasons described above, the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), do not apply to this rulemaking. Accordingly, this final rule is not subject to the regulatory analysis requirements or other requirements of 5 U.S.C. 603 and 604.

Signing Authority

This document is being issued in accordance with § 0.1(a)(1) of the CBP Regulations (19 CFR 0.1(a)(1)) pertaining to the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury (or his/her delegate) to approve regulations related to certain customs revenue functions.

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List of Subjects in 19 CFR Part 10

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Amendments to the CBP Regulations

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Accordingly, chapter I of title 19, Code of Federal Regulations (19 CFR chapter I), is amended as set forth below.

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PART 10—ARTICLES CONDITIONALLY FREE, SUBJECT TO A REDUCED RATE, ETC.

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1. The general authority citation for part 10 and the specific authority for subpart N continue to read as follows:

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Authority: 19 U.S.C. 66, 1202 (General Note 3(i), Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States), 1321, 1481, 1484, 1498, 1508, 1623, 1624, 3314;

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Section 10.801 through 10.829 also issued under 19 U.S.C. 1202 (General Note 30, HTSUS) and Pub. L. 109-169, 119 Stat. 3581 (19 U.S.C. 3805 note).

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2. Section 10.817 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:

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Imported directly.

(a) * * *

(2) If the shipment passed through the territory of a non-Party, the good, upon arrival in the territory of a Party, will be considered to be “imported directly” only if the good did not undergo production, manufacturing, or any other operation outside the territories of the Parties, other than unloading, reloading, or any other operation necessary to preserve the good in good condition or to transport the good to the territory of a Party. Operations that may be performed outside the territories of the Parties include inspection, removal of dust that accumulates during shipment, ventilation, spreading out or drying, chilling, replacing salt, sulfur dioxide, or aqueous solutions, replacing damaged packing materials and containers, and removal of units of the good that are spoiled or damaged and present a danger to the remaining units of the good, or to transport the good to the territory of a Party.

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3. Section 10.822 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:

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Transshipment of non-originating fabric or apparel goods.

(a) * * *

(2) If the shipment passed through the territory of a non-Party, the good, upon arrival in the territory of a Party, will be considered to be “imported directly” only if the good did not undergo production, manufacturing, or any other operation outside the territories of the Parties, other than unloading, reloading, or any other operation necessary to preserve the good in good condition or to transport the good to the territory of a Party. Operations that may be performed outside the territories of the Parties include inspection, removal of dust that accumulates during shipment, ventilation, spreading out or drying, chilling, replacing salt, sulfur dioxide, or aqueous solutions, replacing damaged packing materials and containers, and removal of units of the good that are spoiled or damaged and present a danger to the remaining units of the good, or to transport the good to the territory of a Party.

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Approved: May 19, 2009.

Jayson P. Ahern,

Acting Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Timothy E. Skud,

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury.

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[FR Doc. E9-11986 Filed 5-21-09; 8:45 am]

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