Initiation of Section 301 Investigation: Vietnam's Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to the Import and Use of Illegal Timber, 63639-63640 [2020-22270]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE [Docket Number USTR–2020–0036] Initiation of Section 301 Investigation: Vietnam’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to the Import and Use of Illegal Timber Office of the United States Trade Representative. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: The U.S. Trade Representative is initiating an investigation of Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the import and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) seeks comments regarding the investigation. DATES: To be assured of consideration, you must submit written comments by November 12, 2020. ADDRESSES: You should submit written comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https:// www.regulations.gov (Regulations.gov). Follow the instructions for submitting comments in section IV. The docket number is USTR–2020–0036. For issues with on-line submissions, contact the Section 301 line at 202–395–5725. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For procedural questions concerning the submission of written comments, contact the Section 301 line at 202–395– 5725. For other questions concerning the investigation, contact David Lyons, Assistant General Counsel, 202–395– 9446, Marta Prado, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, 202–395–6216, or Joseph Johnson, Senior Director for Environment and Natural Resources, 202–395–2464. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: I. Background Vietnam is one of the world’s largest exporters of wood products, including to the United States. In 2019, Vietnam exported to the United States more than $3.7 billion of wooden furniture. To supply the timber inputs needed for its wood products manufacturing sector, Vietnam relies on imports of timber harvested in other countries. Available evidence suggests that a significant portion of that imported timber was illegally harvested or traded (illegal timber). Some of that timber may be from species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 Evidence indicates that much of the timber imported by Vietnam was harvested against the laws of the source country. Reports indicate that a significant amount of the timber exported from Cambodia to Vietnam was harvested on protected lands, such as wildlife sanctuaries, or outside of and therefore in violation of legal timber concessions. Cambodia nevertheless remains a significant source of Vietnam’s timber imports. Similarly, timber sourced from other countries, such as Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), may have been harvested against those countries’ laws. In addition, Vietnamese timber imports may be traded illegally. For example, it appears that most timber exported from Cambodia to Vietnam crosses the border in violation of Cambodia’s log export ban. In addition, aspects of the importation and processing of this timber also may violate Vietnam’s domestic law and be inconsistent with CITES. II. Initiation of Section 301 Investigation Section 302(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Trade Act), authorizes the U.S. Trade Representative to initiate an investigation to determine whether an act, policy, or practice of a foreign country is actionable under section 301 of the Trade Act. Actionable matters under section 301 include acts, policies, and practices of a foreign country that are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. An act, policy, or practice is unreasonable if, while not necessarily in violation of, or inconsistent with, the international legal rights of the United States, it is otherwise unfair and inequitable. On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Trade Representative initiated a Section 301 investigation to examine whether Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the import and use of illegal timber are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. Pursuant to section 302(b)(1)(B) of the Trade Act, USTR has consulted with appropriate advisory committees. USTR also has consulted with the interagency Section 301 Committee. Pursuant to section 303(a) of the Trade Act, the U.S. Trade Representative has requested consultations with the Government of Vietnam. Pursuant to section 304 of the Trade Act, the U.S. Trade Representative must determine whether the act, policy, or practice under investigation is actionable under section 301. If that PO 00000 Frm 00140 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 63639 determination is affirmative, the U.S. Trade Representative must determine what action to take. The investigation initially will focus on the following issues: • Vietnamese imports of illegal timber may be inconsistent with Vietnam’s domestic laws, the laws of exporting countries, or international rules. The import of illegal timber may indicate that Vietnam is not enforcing its own laws concerning the import and processing of timber, such as laws requiring that wood processors ensure the lawful origins of the timber they use. For species listed under the CITES that are imported from Cambodia or the DRC, there is evidence that Vietnamese authorities are not requiring the permits or certificates that should be needed to enter or re-export from Vietnam. • Evidence indicates that Vietnam at least tacitly may support the import and use of illegal timber. For example, reports indicate that Vietnamese officials do not record the origin of timber crossing the Cambodia-Vietnam border. This practice would enable Vietnamese exporters to disclaim knowledge of illegal timber inputs when exporting wood products to third countries. Vietnam may have allowed the importation of CITES-listed species based on invalid CITES permits. At the provincial government level, there are reports of Vietnamese officials accepting payments in return for facilitating illegal timber imports. • Other acts, policies, and practices of Vietnam relating to the import and use of illegal timber. III. Request for Public Comments You may submit written comments on any issue covered by the investigation. In particular, USTR invites comments regarding: • The extent to which illegal timber is imported into Vietnam. • The extent to which Vietnamese producers, including producers of wooden furniture, use illegal timber. • The extent to which products of Vietnam made from illegal timber, including wooden furniture, are imported into the United States. • Vietnam’s acts, policies, or practices relating to the import and use of illegal timber. • The nature and level of the burden or restriction on U.S. commerce caused by Vietnam’s import and use of illegal timber. • The determinations required under section 304 of the Trade Act, including what action, if any, should be taken. In light of the uncertainties arising from COVID–19 restrictions, USTR is not at this time scheduling a public E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1 63640 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 196 / Thursday, October 8, 2020 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES hearing in this investigation. USTR will provide further information in a subsequent notice if it will hold a hearing in this investigation. IV. Procedures for Written Submissions All submissions must be in English and sent electronically via Regulations.gov. To submit comments via Regulations.gov, enter docket number USTR–2020–0036. Find a reference to this notice and click on the link entitled ‘comment now!’. For further information on using Regulations.gov, please consult the resources provided on the website by clicking on ‘how to use Regulations.gov’ on the bottom of the Regulations.gov home page. USTR will not accept handdelivered submissions. Regulations.gov allows users to submit comments by filling in a ‘type comment’ field or by attaching a document using an ‘upload file’ field. USTR prefers that you submit comments in an attached document. If you attach a document, it is sufficient to type ‘see attached in the ‘type comment’ field. USTR strongly prefers submissions in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). If you use an application other than Adobe Acrobat or Word (.doc), please indicate the name of the application in the ‘type comment’ field. File names should reflect the name of the person or entity submitting the comment. Please do not attach separate cover letters to electronic submissions; rather, include any information that would be in a cover letter in the comment itself. Similarly, to the extent possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in the same file as the comment itself, rather than submitting them as separate files. For any comments that contain business confidential information (BCI), the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters ‘BCI.’ You must clearly mark any page containing BCI by including ‘BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL’ on the top of that page and clearly indicating, via brackets, highlighting, or other means, the specific information that is BCI. If you request business confidential treatment, you must certify in writing that disclosure of the information would endanger trade secrets or profitability, and that you would not customarily release the information to the public. Filers of submissions containing BCI also must submit a public version of their comments. The file name of the public version should begin with the character ‘P.’ Follow the ‘BCI’ and ‘P’ with the name of the person or entity submitting the comments. If these procedures are VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:48 Oct 07, 2020 Jkt 253001 not sufficient to protect BCI or otherwise protect business interests, please contact the Section 301 line at 202–395–5725 to discuss whether alternative arrangements are possible. USTR will post submissions in the docket for public inspection, except properly designated BCI. You can view submissions on Regulations.gov by entering docket number USTR–2020– 0036 in the search field on the home page. Joseph Barloon, General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative. [FR Doc. 2020–22270 Filed 10–7–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3290–F1–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration [Docket No. FAA–2019–0836] Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of a New Approval of Information Collection: Airman Knowledge Test Registration Collection Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT. ACTION: Notice and request for comments. AGENCY: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, FAA invites public comments about our intention to request the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval a new information collection. The Federal Register Notice with a 60day comment period soliciting comments on the following collection of information was published on October 22, 2019. The information collected is necessary to ensure compliance and proper registration of an individual for the necessary knowledge test for the certification or rating pursued by the individual. DATES: Written comments should be submitted by November 9, 2020. ADDRESSES: Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to www.reginfo.gov/public/do/ PRAMain. Find this particular information collection by selecting ‘‘Currently under 30-day Review—Open for Public Comments’’ or by using the search function. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ryan C. Smith by email at: Ryan.C.Smith@faa.gov; Phone: 405– 954–6742. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00141 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public Comments Invited: You are asked to comment on any aspect of this information collection, including (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for FAA’s performance; (b) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (c) ways for FAA to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information collection; and (d) ways that the burden could be minimized without reducing the quality of the collected information. OMB Control Number: 2120–XXXX. Title: Airman Knowledge Test Registration Collection. Form Numbers: There are no forms associated with this collection. Type of Review: New information collection. Background: The Federal Register Notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on the following collection of information was published on October 22, 2019 (84 FR 56520). Individuals pursuing an FAA certificate or rating to operate in the National Airspace System (NAS) must meet the standards established in the FAA regulations specific to the certificate sought by the individual. FAA certification requires that an individual must successfully pass an Airman Knowledge Test as part of the requirements to obtain an FAA certificate or rating. The FAA develops and administers 90 different knowledge tests in many different areas that are required as part of the overall airman certification process. Airman Knowledge Tests are administered at approved Knowledge Testing Centers by an approved test proctor who is required to administer the appropriate Airman Knowledge Test to the individual pursuing FAA certification. Individuals taking an FAA Airman Knowledge Test must provide the following information to be collected in order to complete the registration process before the administration of the Airman Knowledge Test: Name, FAA Tracking Number (FTN), physical address, Date of Birth, email address, photo identification, phone number, test authorization (credentials of the individual such as an instructor endorsement), and previous number of test attempts. The information provided by the individual is collected and stored electronically in the application used for test registration and delivery. This information is used to determine the identify and eligibility of the individual for compliance of FAA certification requirements. Respondents: 200,000 annually. E:\FR\FM\08OCN1.SGM 08OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 196 (Thursday, October 8, 2020)]
[Notices]
[Pages 63639-63640]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-22270]



[[Page 63639]]

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OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE

[Docket Number USTR-2020-0036]


Initiation of Section 301 Investigation: Vietnam's Acts, 
Policies, and Practices Related to the Import and Use of Illegal Timber

AGENCY: Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION: Notice and request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The U.S. Trade Representative is initiating an investigation 
of Vietnam's acts, policies, and practices related to the import and 
use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded. The Office of the 
United States Trade Representative (USTR) seeks comments regarding the 
investigation.

DATES: To be assured of consideration, you must submit written comments 
by November 12, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You should submit written comments through the Federal 
eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov (Regulations.gov). 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments in section IV. The 
docket number is USTR-2020-0036. For issues with on-line submissions, 
contact the Section 301 line at 202-395-5725.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For procedural questions concerning 
the submission of written comments, contact the Section 301 line at 
202-395-5725. For other questions concerning the investigation, contact 
David Lyons, Assistant General Counsel, 202-395-9446, Marta Prado, 
Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the 
Pacific, 202-395-6216, or Joseph Johnson, Senior Director for 
Environment and Natural Resources, 202-395-2464.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Vietnam is one of the world's largest exporters of wood products, 
including to the United States. In 2019, Vietnam exported to the United 
States more than $3.7 billion of wooden furniture. To supply the timber 
inputs needed for its wood products manufacturing sector, Vietnam 
relies on imports of timber harvested in other countries. Available 
evidence suggests that a significant portion of that imported timber 
was illegally harvested or traded (illegal timber). Some of that timber 
may be from species listed under the Convention on International Trade 
in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
    Evidence indicates that much of the timber imported by Vietnam was 
harvested against the laws of the source country. Reports indicate that 
a significant amount of the timber exported from Cambodia to Vietnam 
was harvested on protected lands, such as wildlife sanctuaries, or 
outside of and therefore in violation of legal timber concessions. 
Cambodia nevertheless remains a significant source of Vietnam's timber 
imports. Similarly, timber sourced from other countries, such as 
Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), may have been 
harvested against those countries' laws.
    In addition, Vietnamese timber imports may be traded illegally. For 
example, it appears that most timber exported from Cambodia to Vietnam 
crosses the border in violation of Cambodia's log export ban. In 
addition, aspects of the importation and processing of this timber also 
may violate Vietnam's domestic law and be inconsistent with CITES.

II. Initiation of Section 301 Investigation

    Section 302(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (Trade 
Act), authorizes the U.S. Trade Representative to initiate an 
investigation to determine whether an act, policy, or practice of a 
foreign country is actionable under section 301 of the Trade Act. 
Actionable matters under section 301 include acts, policies, and 
practices of a foreign country that are unreasonable or discriminatory 
and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. An act, policy, or practice is 
unreasonable if, while not necessarily in violation of, or inconsistent 
with, the international legal rights of the United States, it is 
otherwise unfair and inequitable.
    On October 2, 2020, the U.S. Trade Representative initiated a 
Section 301 investigation to examine whether Vietnam's acts, policies, 
and practices related to the import and use of illegal timber are 
unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.
    Pursuant to section 302(b)(1)(B) of the Trade Act, USTR has 
consulted with appropriate advisory committees. USTR also has consulted 
with the interagency Section 301 Committee. Pursuant to section 303(a) 
of the Trade Act, the U.S. Trade Representative has requested 
consultations with the Government of Vietnam.
    Pursuant to section 304 of the Trade Act, the U.S. Trade 
Representative must determine whether the act, policy, or practice 
under investigation is actionable under section 301. If that 
determination is affirmative, the U.S. Trade Representative must 
determine what action to take.
    The investigation initially will focus on the following issues:
     Vietnamese imports of illegal timber may be inconsistent 
with Vietnam's domestic laws, the laws of exporting countries, or 
international rules. The import of illegal timber may indicate that 
Vietnam is not enforcing its own laws concerning the import and 
processing of timber, such as laws requiring that wood processors 
ensure the lawful origins of the timber they use. For species listed 
under the CITES that are imported from Cambodia or the DRC, there is 
evidence that Vietnamese authorities are not requiring the permits or 
certificates that should be needed to enter or re-export from Vietnam.
     Evidence indicates that Vietnam at least tacitly may 
support the import and use of illegal timber. For example, reports 
indicate that Vietnamese officials do not record the origin of timber 
crossing the Cambodia-Vietnam border. This practice would enable 
Vietnamese exporters to disclaim knowledge of illegal timber inputs 
when exporting wood products to third countries. Vietnam may have 
allowed the importation of CITES-listed species based on invalid CITES 
permits. At the provincial government level, there are reports of 
Vietnamese officials accepting payments in return for facilitating 
illegal timber imports.
     Other acts, policies, and practices of Vietnam relating to 
the import and use of illegal timber.

III. Request for Public Comments

    You may submit written comments on any issue covered by the 
investigation. In particular, USTR invites comments regarding:
     The extent to which illegal timber is imported into 
Vietnam.
     The extent to which Vietnamese producers, including 
producers of wooden furniture, use illegal timber.
     The extent to which products of Vietnam made from illegal 
timber, including wooden furniture, are imported into the United 
States.
     Vietnam's acts, policies, or practices relating to the 
import and use of illegal timber.
     The nature and level of the burden or restriction on U.S. 
commerce caused by Vietnam's import and use of illegal timber.
     The determinations required under section 304 of the Trade 
Act, including what action, if any, should be taken.
    In light of the uncertainties arising from COVID-19 restrictions, 
USTR is not at this time scheduling a public

[[Page 63640]]

hearing in this investigation. USTR will provide further information in 
a subsequent notice if it will hold a hearing in this investigation.

IV. Procedures for Written Submissions

    All submissions must be in English and sent electronically via 
Regulations.gov. To submit comments via Regulations.gov, enter docket 
number USTR-2020-0036. Find a reference to this notice and click on the 
link entitled `comment now!'. For further information on using 
Regulations.gov, please consult the resources provided on the website 
by clicking on `how to use Regulations.gov' on the bottom of the 
Regulations.gov home page. USTR will not accept hand-delivered 
submissions.
    Regulations.gov allows users to submit comments by filling in a 
`type comment' field or by attaching a document using an `upload file' 
field. USTR prefers that you submit comments in an attached document. 
If you attach a document, it is sufficient to type `see attached in the 
`type comment' field. USTR strongly prefers submissions in Adobe 
Acrobat (.pdf). If you use an application other than Adobe Acrobat or 
Word (.doc), please indicate the name of the application in the `type 
comment' field.
    File names should reflect the name of the person or entity 
submitting the comment. Please do not attach separate cover letters to 
electronic submissions; rather, include any information that would be 
in a cover letter in the comment itself. Similarly, to the extent 
possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in 
the same file as the comment itself, rather than submitting them as 
separate files.
    For any comments that contain business confidential information 
(BCI), the file name of the business confidential version should begin 
with the characters `BCI.' You must clearly mark any page containing 
BCI by including `BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL' on the top of that page and 
clearly indicating, via brackets, highlighting, or other means, the 
specific information that is BCI. If you request business confidential 
treatment, you must certify in writing that disclosure of the 
information would endanger trade secrets or profitability, and that you 
would not customarily release the information to the public. Filers of 
submissions containing BCI also must submit a public version of their 
comments. The file name of the public version should begin with the 
character `P.' Follow the `BCI' and `P' with the name of the person or 
entity submitting the comments. If these procedures are not sufficient 
to protect BCI or otherwise protect business interests, please contact 
the Section 301 line at 202-395-5725 to discuss whether alternative 
arrangements are possible.
    USTR will post submissions in the docket for public inspection, 
except properly designated BCI. You can view submissions on 
Regulations.gov by entering docket number USTR-2020-0036 in the search 
field on the home page.

Joseph Barloon,
General Counsel, Office of the United States Trade Representative.
[FR Doc. 2020-22270 Filed 10-7-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3290-F1-P