Generalized System of Preferences (GSP): Notice Regarding Products in the 2004 Annual Review
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) received petitions in 2004 to modify the list of products that are eligible for duty-free treatment under the GSP program and to modify the GSP status of certain GSP beneficiary developing countries because of country practices. The list of country practice petitions accepted for review will be announced in the Federal Register at a later date. This notice announces the product petitions that are accepted for further review in the 2004 GSP Annual Review, and sets forth the schedule for comment and public hearing on these petitions, for requesting participation in the hearing, and for submitting pre-hearing and post-hearing briefs.
Improving Government Charge Card Management
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requests comments on a draft guidance document entitled Improving Government Charge Card Management. The draft guidance, located at http://www.whitehouse.gov/ omb/financial/fiatravel.html, consolidates and updates current government charge card program guidance previously issued by OMB, the General Services Administration, the Department of the Treasury, and other Federal agencies. The draft guidance applies to all Executive Branch departments and agencies, establishing standard minimum requirements and suggested best practices in areas of charge card management such as planning, training, risk management, data collection, credit worthiness, and strategic buying. When this guidance is finalized, it will be issued as either a new OMB Circular or as an addendum to an existing OMB Circular.
Notice of Change to U.S. Note 2(d) to Subchapter XIX of Chapter 98 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States
Section 2004(k) of the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004, Public Law 108-429, designated Mauritius as eligible for certain additional benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) for one year, beginning October 1, 2004. This notice modifies the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) to reflect this designation.
WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding Regarding United States-Continued Suspension of Obligations in the EC-Hormones Dispute
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (``USTR'') is providing notice that on January 13, 2005, the United States received from the European Communities (``EC'') a request for the establishment of a panel under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization (``WTO Agreement'') regarding the U.S. suspension of obligations to the EC in the WTO dispute European CommunitiesMeasures Concerning Meat and Meat Products (Hormones). The EC asserts that it has put into force new legislation that brings it into conformity with the recommendations and rulings of the Dispute Settlement Body (``DSB'') and its obligations under the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (``SPS Agreement''). The EC therefore challenges the continued U.S. suspension of obligations and imposition of import duties in excess of bound rates on imports from the EC, the alleged U.S. ``unilateral determination'' that the new EC legislation is in violation of the EC's WTO obligations, and the alleged U.S. failure to have recourse to WTO dispute settlement proceedings. In particular, the EC asserts that by failing to discontinue suspension of obligations to the EC, the United States has breached its obligations under Articles I and II of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (``GATT 1994'') and Articles 3.7, 21.5, 22.8 and 23.2(a) and (c) of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (``DSU''). USTR invites written comments from the public concerning the issues raised in this dispute.
Office of Administration; Notice of Meeting of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (``Commission'') will meet in closed session on Wednesday, March 9, 2005, and Thursday, March 10, 2005, in its offices in Arlington, Virginia. Executive Order 13328 established the Commission for the purpose of assessing whether the Intelligence Community is sufficiently authorized, organized, equipped, trained, and resourced to identify and warn in a timely manner of, and to support the United States Government's efforts to respond to, the development of Weapons of Mass Destruction, related means of delivery, and other related threats of the 21st Century. This meeting will consist of briefings and discussions involving classified matters of national security, including classified briefings from representatives of agencies within the Intelligence Community; Commission discussions based upon the content of classified intelligence documents the Commission has received from agencies within the Intelligence Community; and presentations concerning the United States' intelligence capabilities that are based upon classified information. While the Commission does not concede that it is subject to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), 5 United States Code Appendix 2, it has been determined that the March 9-10, 2005, meeting would fall within the scope of exceptions (c)(1) and (c)(9)(B) of the Sunshine Act, 5 United States Code, Sections 552b(c)(1) & (c)(9)(B), and thus could be closed to the public if FACA did apply to the Commission.
Notice of Meeting of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Automotive Equipment and Capitol Goods (ITAC-2)
The Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Automotive Equipment and Capitol Goods (ITAC-2) will hold a meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2005, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The meeting will be closed to the public from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and opened to the public from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
WTO Dispute Settlement Proceeding Regarding Final Countervailing Duty Determination With Respect to Certain Softwood Lumber From Canada
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is providing notice that on January 14, 2005, at the request of Canada, the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) established a dispute settlement panel under the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the WTO. The panel is to examine whether the United States has implemented the recommendations and rulings of the DSB in a dispute involving a U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) countervailing duty investigation of certain softwood lumber products from Canada. On February 17, 2004, the DSB adopted its findings in that dispute, which rejected most of Canada's claims but found that, consistent with the WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM Agreement) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994 (GATT 1994), Commerce should have conducted an analysis of whether subsidies ``pass through'' from certain producers to others with respect to certain log sales. In response to the DSB's recommendations and rulings, Commerce conducted a pass-through analysis and issued a new determination revising the subsidy rate for the investigation from 18.79% to 18.62%. Canada subsequently requested the establishment of a dispute settlement panel, alleging that the United States had failed to implement the DSB's recommendations and rulings. The panel was established on January 14, 2005. USTR invites written comments from the public concerning the issues raised in this dispute.
Notice of Entry Into Force of Trade Agreement With the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Grant of Normal Trade Relations Treatment to Products of Laos
On September 18, 2003, the United States and the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Laos) signed a trade agreement obligating reciprocal most-favored-nation treatment between Laos and the United States. The trade agreement entered into force as of February 4, 2005, the effective date of this notice, after which time all products of Laos entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, shall be granted most-favored-nation treatment by the United States.
Acquisition Advisory Panel
Pursuant to the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463, as amended), notice is hereby given that the Acquisition Advisory Panel established in accordance with the Services Acquisition Reform Act of 2003 will meet on February 28, 2005 at 9 a.m., eastern time. Location for the meeting will be the Rachel Carson Room in the basement of the Department of Interior, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240. While the meeting is open to the public, building security and limited seating require you to provide your name to the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) (contact information listed below) by Thursday, February 24, 2005. You will need a photo identification to enter the building. The public entrance to the building is the C Street entrance. However, the E Street entrance is reserved for individuals with disabilities requiring an accessible entrance to the building. Please let the DFO know in advance if you will require the accessible entrance. The panel's statutory charter is to review Federal contracting laws, regulations, and government-wide policies, including the use of commercial practices, performance-based contracting, performance of acquisition functions across agency lines of responsibility, and government-wide contracts. Since this meeting will be the first time the panel members discuss substantive procurement- related issues, it is anticipated that a broad range of topics falling under their statutory charter will be discussed. Subgroups or working groups, as referenced in the Panel's Bylaws and operating procedures, may be established to research specific procurement-related areas in order to eventually make a recommendation to the panel. A draft agenda will be available from the DFO, upon request, in advance of the meeting.
Discount Rates for Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Federal Programs
The Office of Management and Budget revised Circular A-94 in 1992. The revised Circular specified certain discount rates to be updated annually when the interest rate and inflation assumptions used to prepare the budget of the United States Government were changed. These discount rates are found in Appendix C of the revised Circular. The updated discount rates are shown below. The discount rates in Appendix C are to be used for cost-effectiveness analysis, including lease-purchase analysis, as specified in the revised Circular. They do not apply to regulatory analysis.
Notice of List of Products Subject to Possible Withdrawal of Concessions in Response to European Union (EU) Changes to Its Rice Import Regime
In response to the European Union's changes to its rice import regime, the United States has notified the World Trade Organization of its intent to withdraw concessions by March 1, 2005, with respect to the goods in the attached list. Background: In Federal Register notices 04-20543, dated September 10, 2004, 04-21762 and dated September 28, 2004, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative sought comments concerning a list of goods for which tariff concessions may be withdrawn and duties may be increased in the event the United States cannot reach agreement with the European Union (EU) for adequate compensation owed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules as a result of EU changes to its rice import regime. While the United States Government has actively sought a negotiated resolution of this issue, which would have alleviated the need to withdraw concessions, an agreement has not been reached. Therefore, in accordance with WTO rules, the United States has notified the WTO that it will withdraw substantially equivalent tariff concessions if an agreement is not reached before March 1. This notice provides the list of goods notified to the WTO on Friday, January 28, 2005. Whenever a foreign country withdraws, suspends, or modifies the application of trade agreement obligations of benefit to the United States without granting adequate compensation, the President is authorized under section 125(c) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2135) to proclaim such increased duties or other import restrictions as are appropriate to effect adequate compensation. In the event that the United States withdraws substantially equivalent tariff concessions on March 1, increases in the duties applied to the goods included in the list notified to the WTO would be effected pursuant to this authority.
Request for Public Comment Regarding Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) Beneficiary Countries
In compliance with section 203(f) of the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) (19 U.S.C. 3201), as amended by the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act , the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is requesting the views of interested parties on whether the countries designated as ATPA beneficiary countries in Presidential Proclamation 7616 of October 31, 2002, are meeting the eligibility criteria provided for in section 204(b)(6)(B) of the ATPA. This information will be used in the preparation of a report to the U.S. Congress on the operation of the program.
Grants Related Information Collection Under OMB Review
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, as amended (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this notice announces that an information collection extension request was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for processing under 5 CFR 1320.10. The first notice of this information collection extension was published in the Federal Register as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act, on October 29, 2004 [69 FR 63186] and invitee the general public and Federal agencies to comment on the extension without change of standard form, SF-424, Application for Federal Assistance. This form is currently required by OMB Circular A-102, ``Grants and Cooperative Agreements with State and Local Governments,'' and Title 2 Code of Federal Regulations Part 215 (OMB Circular A-110, ``Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations.'' The form will continue to be used while the E-GOV Grants.gov interagency team completes their analysis of public comments received in response to an April 8, 2003, Federal Register notice [68 FR 17090] and finalizes the government-wide data standard.
Grants Related Information Collections Under OMB Review
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, as amended (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), this notice announces that eight information collection renewal requests were submitted to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) for processing under 5 CFR 1320.10. The first notice of these information collection renewals was published in the Federal Register, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act, on October 29, 2004 [69 FR 63186], and invited the general public and Federal agencies to comment on the renewal without change of eight (8) standard forms: the SF-269, Financial Status Report (long form); SF-269A, Financial Status Report (short form); SF-272, Federal Cash Transactions Report; SF-272A, Federal Cash Transactions Report (continuation); SF-424A, Budget InformationNonconstruction Programs; SF-424B, AssurancesNon- construction Programs; SF-424C, Budget InformationConstruction Programs; and SF-424D, AssurancesConstruction Programs. These forms are currently required by OMB Circular A-102, ``Grants and Cooperative Agreements with State and Local Governments,'' and Title 2 Code of Federal Regulations Part 215 (OMB Circular A-110, ``Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Non-Profit Organizations.'' These eight forms will continue to be used while interagency teams working under two streamlining initiatives (the Grants.gov E-Gov effort and the P.L.106-107 implementation work groups) complete the final consolidated data standards.
Identification of Countries Under Section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974: Extension of Deadline for Public Comment on Out-of-Cycle Review of the People's Republic of China
This notice extends by two weeks the deadline for the submission of comments in the Out-of-Cycle Review (OCR) of the People's Republic of China (China) under section 182 of the Trade Act of 1974 (Trade Act) (19 U.S.C. 2242), commonly referred to as the ``Special 301'' provision of the Trade Act.
Workshop on Manufacturing Research and Development in Three Priority Areas: Nanomanufacturing, Manufacturing for the Hydrogen Economy, and Intelligent and Integrated Manufacturing Systems; Sponsored by the National Science and Technology Council, Committee on Technology, Interagency Working Group on Manufacturing Research and Development
A public forum sponsored by the Manufacturing Research and Development Interagency Working Group (IWG) of the Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) will be held to review the current state of manufacturing research and development in three priority areas: nanomanufacturing, manufacturing for the hydrogen economy, and intelligent and integrated manufacturing systems.