Customs and Border Protection’s 2018 E-Commerce Strategy


According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release on March 8th, 2018 – CBP released their new strategy to deal with the increase in volume of e-commerce packages into the United States.

The media release is wordy and you are already to go back to Facebook – so here’s a quick cliff notes version of the media release:

1. More people are using the internet to buy direct from China, leading to more small packages entering the US.

2. The large increase in volume of small packages (commonly indicated as “e-packet delivery”) means there is a greater likelihood of things entering the country that should not enter.

3. CBP is worried about a greater entry of items that violate intellectual property rights (fake watches, counterfeit purfume, fake iphones, etc) will make it into the US.

Some highlights of the CBP e-commerce strategy:

1. Educate people to be aware of customs regulations. Not sure how easy it will be to make people aware of customs regulations when people can’t even follow traffic regulations!

2. Partnership with foreign governments

3. Improve data collection from CBP targeting systems and field personnel.

4. The media release includes a lot of buzzwords: “more agile, dynamic workforce that utilizes state-of-art techniques and technology to better target high-risk shipments, improving data collection from CBP targeting systems, and leveraging enforcement partnerships.”

My thoughts:

Personally, I do not believe methods 1-4 will be able to adequately address the increased flow of these small packages from China. I believe CBP has other methods that they are not publicizing, and rightly so. Notifying the public how CBP searches for items that violate IPR, are counterfeit or not allowed for entry into the US would be counter-intuitive and could only lead to foreign manufacturers creating work arounds.

If you are a manufacturer overseas and ship many small package items to the US and want to know how this can effect your business, call experienced trade and customs attorney, David Hsu, 832.896.6288 or email at

What are Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum?


This post is in response to many queries we have received since last week’s announcement by President Trump of new tariffs effective March 23rd on aluminum and steel imports to the US under Section 232.

A Section 232 investigation is conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The original purpose of a 232 investigation was to determine whether or not the import affects national security. The investigations are started based on an application from an interested party (usually a domestic producer), at the request of any department or agency head, or it may be self-initiated by the Secretary of Commerce.

The Secretary of Commerce then prepares a report to the President focusing on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under circumstances that threaten to impair national security. If the import impairs national security, the President can concur or not with the Secretary’s recommendations and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

The Secretary’s report to the President, prepared within 270 days of initiation, focuses on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security. The President can concur or not with the Secretary’s recommendations, and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

The last section 232 investigation occurred in 2001 regarding iron ore and semi-finished steel.

Last week, President Trump imposed a 25% global tariff on steel imports and a 10% global tariff on:

Aluminum imports, including the following products:
7601.10 Aluminum, Not Alloyed, Unwrought
7601.20 Aluminum Alloys, Unwrought
7604 Aluminum bars, rods and profiles
7605 Aluminum wire
7606 Aluminum plates, sheets and strip, over 0.2mm
7607 Aluminum foil (whether or not printed or backed with paper or other backing materials)
7608 Aluminum tubes and pipes
7609 Aluminum tube or pipe fittings
7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.5170 Aluminum castings

Steel products within the broad scope of the global tariffs:
Carbon and alloy flat products;
Carbon and alloy long products;
Carbon and alloy pipe and tube products;
Carbon and alloy semi-finished products;
Stainless steel products.

If you have any questions about whether or not your imports may be subject to these new duties after March 23rd, contact AD/CVD attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at


Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) signed on March 8th, 2018.

Last Thursday, the 11 countries participating in the as-formerly-known-as Trans-Pacific Partnership signed the Asia Pacific trade pact without the United States.

The revised agreement known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) aims to reduce tariffs between member countries. One main item left out of the CPTPP (but included in negotiations of the TPP) are the lack of intellectual property protection of pharmaceuticals favored by the United States.

According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the CPTPP will generate $147 billion in income, versus an estimated $492 billion in global income benefits under the original TPP.


Feel free to contact David Hsu for any questions related to CPTPP or how this trade pact may impact your business, 832.896.6288 or

Record Number of Intellectual Property Rights Seizures by Customs in 2017


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) released a report indicating they seized a record number of 34,143 shipments of goods that violated Intellectual Property Rights (“IPR”) in 2017. In comparison, 2016 saw about 30,000 shipments seized for counterfeit and pirated products. The total estimated MSRP of the seized goods in 2017 total approximately $1.2 billion.

Other interesting facts in the report:

-90% of the seized counterfeit and pirated goods in 2017 were in express carrier and international mail environments as opposed to containerized shipments.

-15% of the IPR seizures were related to wearing apparel

-48% of the IPR violation seizures were from China (16,538)

-39% of the IPR violation seizures were from Hong Kong

We can expect CBP and ICE to only increase their number of seizures for 2018 as CBP continues with their “The Truth Behind Counterfeits campaign” along with increased awareness of the CBP hotlines to report suspected fraud or illegal trade activity (1-800-BE-ALERT).

If you or anyone you know has had CBP or ICE detain your shipments, or if you received notice from DHL of a Customs seizure – call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or email

Many importers do not contest the seizure because they feel the value of the shipment doesn’t justify speaking to an attorney – but CBP can and will issue civil penalties after the seizure, call today!


$233,000 Worth of Countefeit Watches Seized by Customs


According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release on March 1st; CBP officers in Philadelphia seized 54 counterfeit designer brand watches.

CBP officers examined the parcel on January 23rd that was shipped from Hong Kong. The packing list indicated the shipment as containing “watch samples” and upon further inspection, CBP found watches bearing name brands such as Armani, Hublot, Omega,
Rado, Rolex and others. If authentic, the MSRP for the watches totaled $233,209.

As you may or may not know, CBP is tasked with enforcing the intellectual property laws of companies who register their brand with Customs. In this instance, CBP officers with the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEE) inspected the watches, worked with the trademark holders and confirmed the watches were counterfeit.

Some of the tell-tale signs of counterfeit watches include but are not limited to: poor quality packaging of the watch, watch construction (weight, dial movement) and the origin of shipment (from Hong Kong).

CBP frequently seizes counterfeit goods and on a typical day in 2017, CBP seized $3.3 million worth of products for intellectual property rights violations.

If you or someone you know has had your import seized due to counterfeit or trademark violations, contact experienced Customs attorney, David Hsu. Customs can penalize importers civil and criminal penalties, and time there are certain time limitations – call  832.896.6288 or email at today.

Help! CBP seized our cash even though each of us only carried $6,000.


We often hear from our clients that Customs seized their cash even though they were carrying less than $10,000. The typical scenario is a couple traveling overseas. The husband is carrying $6,000 in cash and the wife carries another $6,000 in cash. To most people, this appears to not violate the $10,000 reporting rule, right?

Unfortunately, it’s wrong. In the eyes of Customs, this is “structuring”. Structuring is when a person has divided more than $10,000 upon import or export of money or equivalent to avoid reporting. The law against structuring is found under 31 USC Section 5316.

We all know air travel is stressful, but next time, be sure to just report all the currency you have with you over $10,000. The cash is not taxed and reporting the money will ultimately save you time and stress. Cash seizures at airports will take several hours and you will more than likely miss your flight, or your connecting flight and the important events you have planned at your destination.

It is important to note that structuring still applies even if it is done over several days, weeks or months and structuring still applies regardless of the form of the money (whether it is in cash, travelers checks, or other monetary instruments).

So what are the penalties for currency seizures?
There are both civil and criminal penalties for structuring currency, it all depends on the circumstances of the seizure. The money can be seized, forfeited, and you may be  fined, or face additional criminal penalties if there is a pattern of illegal activity over a year long period.

Additionally, once you are in the Customs database and have a record for one currency seizure, each entry and exit to and from the US may result in heightened scrutiny from CBP.

If you or someone you know has faced a currency seizure for structuring or a cash seizure for failure to declare, contact experienced money seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at


CBP in Georgia intercept “first-in-port” insects.


Mottled tortoise beetle (Image via Wikipedia)

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah intercepted the pigeon tick, straight-snouted weevil and tortoise beetle in containers destined for Georgia.

These insects are known as “first-in-port” because the pests have never been encountered at a specific port of entry.

In January, CBP agriculture specialists at the Port of Savannah inspected tile and stone on shipments arriving from Turkey and Italy and discovered these potentially harmful insects.

This inspection was just one of the over 3.85 million twenty-foot container equivalent units of cargo processed yearly by the Port of Savannah, the second-largest on the East Coast.

If your imports have been seized due to containing pests, call experienced Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance, 832-896-6288, or by email at:

What is a “US Purchaser Questionnaire” from the International Trade Commission?


Many of our clients who have been in business for multiple decades call our office regarding their receipt of an “US Purchaser Questionnaire” from the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

If you or your company receives this questionnaire (usually by email), it means the ITC is in the final phase of their anti-dumping/countervailing duty investigation. The responses from US Purchasers are then used to determine if the US industry is harmed or has the potential to be harmed by these importations.

It is important to respond to these questionnaires as the ITC has subpoena power and the ability to compel the submission of records and information for any purchaser who does not respond. To make replying more convenient, questionnaire responses can be sent back to the ITC online (usually through Dropbox).

If you or someone you know has received one of these questionnaires and has any questions about completing the questionnaire – or any questions about anti-dumping and countervailing duties, contact experienced attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288,


Final version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal released.


According to February 20th Reuters article, the remaining 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have finalized the trade pact set to be signed in Chile on March 8th. After signing, the trade deal provisions will take effect at the end of 2018 or the first half of 2019.

Reports indicate the final version removes or changed 20 provisions regarding intellectual property that were originally included by the United States. Also known as “TPP-11”, the remaining parties believe the trade pact will benefit all members economically across all job sectors. The 11 member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Check back here for more updates. If you have any trade or customs law questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or


CBP seizes ancient artifacts for repatriation.


According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers at Miami International Airport (MIA) seized two shipments containing suspected ancient artifacts.

The first shipment from the United Kingdom was a wooden cargo container with a manifest indicating a value of $252,000. When CBP opened the container they found a helmet appearing to be an ancient artifact. An expert appraiser determined the helmet to be an authentic “Corinthian Helmet” dating back to 100-500 B.C.

The second seizure was from El Salvador containing 13 artifacts of Mayan origin.

While not frequently mentioned in the press, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their country of origin. CBP works with ICE to ensure the repatriation rules are followed.

If you or someone you know has had artifacts seized, call experienced customs seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, or by email at: for a free consultation.