[ferro-alloys.com]The office of the United States Trade Representative on Monday said trade negotiations will continue despite a lapse in appropriations caused by the partial US government shutdown.
"USTR has implemented its lapse in appropriations contingency plan. Excepted personnel will ensure USTR continues to conduct operations, including trade negotiations and enforcement," a notice posted the the agency's website said.
The partial government shutdown, which began December 22, stretched into its 24th day Monday, marking the longest shutdown in US history. Until Monday, the USTR's office had remained fully open.
The USTR's office is currently in trade discussions with China and is expected to begin formal trade talks with the EU and Japan this month. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with the trade ministers of the EU and Japan in Washington last week ahead of negotiations.
The USTR's office is also responsible for negotiating country-specific exemptions to the Section 232 metals tariffs.
Steel import data, trade case decisions and the processing of tariff exclusion requests have also been delayed, as the Department of Commerce has been affected since the start of the shutdown. About 41,000 people, representing 86% of total Commerce employees, have been furloughed. As a result, the department's Bureau of Economic Analysis and Census Bureau will not publish economic or trade data until the shutdown is over, which includes steel import data.
Additionally, the International Trade Commission has ceased regular operations amid the shutdown, noting the disruption of "significant activities," including investigative activities and maintenance of the harmonized tariff schedule.
It was still unclear Monday when the shutdown would end. US President Donald Trump has maintained that he will not sign legislation to reopen the government until he receives the funds to construct a physical barrier at the US-Mexico border. The Trump administration has requested $5.7 billion to fund 234 miles of a new barrier at the southern US border.
(S&P Global Platts)