USTR finalizes “List 2” of Section 301 duties on Chinese goods – tariffs begin on August 23rd.

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The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released a bulletin today finalizing “List 2” of the tariffs of Chinese products known as “Section 301” duties.

List 2 goods will be subject to an additional 25% tariff on goods from China starting August 23rd. Out of the 284 proposed tariff lines, only 5 tariff lines were removed by the USTR.

List 2 covers approximately $16 billion worth of imports from China. The Section 301 duties are the US response to China’s unfair trade practices related to the forced transfer of American technology and intellectual property.

List 1 went into effect on July 6th and covered about $34 billion of imports from China.

There is no word on when List 3 will be finalized but based on 1 and 2, I believe sometime in December 2018.

If you are importing a good subject to the 301 duties, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu for a free legal consultation on what our firm can do for you: dhsu@givensjohnston.com or 832.896.6288.

GM applies for tariff exemption on their Buick Envision manufactured in China and subject to a 25% duty.

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According to Reuters, General Motors (GM) is seeking to apply for a tariff exclusion on their Chinese-made Buick Envision. As the Buick Envision is made in China, imports of the vehicle to the US would be subject to a 25% tariff. According to the same article, sales of the Buick Envision total 19% of Buick brand sales in 2017.

According to GM authority, the automaker has currently sold 16,814 Envisions so far in 2018.

The tariff exclusions are also known as the “Section 301” tariff exclusions. Reuters cites the GM’s argument in the filing: “to invest in our U.S. manufacturing facilities and to develop the next generation of automotive technology in the United States” and that “assembly in our home market is not an option” due to low US sales numbers.

Besides applying for a Section 301 exclusion, GM shipped in a six-month supply of Envisions at the current 2.5% tariffs.

Will followup and update if/when the exclusion has been approved.

If your company would like to file a Section 232 or Section 301 exclusion, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Varidesk files complaint with International Trade Commission alleging patent infringement claims by other height-adjustable desk companies.

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Coppell based Varidesk LLC, makers of the height-adjustable desk platform, has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930.

The section 337 complaint claims other importers of height-adjustable desk platforms and components are infringing upon Varidesk’s patents (9,113,703; 9,277,8009; 9,554,644; and 9,924,793.

After a complaint is filed, the ITC will investigate and after the investigation, they may issue a general exclusion order and a cease and desist order.

More updates posted when they become available – if you are under investigation by the ITC, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

US ports first to be impacted if/when China tariffs become effective.

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CNBC on July 28th indicated US ports as the frontline in the trade war with China. Citing interviews with port managers, the CNBC article claims imposition of more duties (estimated to total over $200 billion worth of Chinese goods) will result in cancelled shipments, less container traffic and lost jobs.

One port director from Long Beach believes further duties will impact the port, the state and the nation as a whole. The LA/LB port handled $173 billion in Chinese imports last year and account for 1/3 of all the shipped goods from China to the US.

Last year, $505 billion in goods arrived from China last year with about $130 billion in US goods to China. This difference in the goods arriving versus leaving is part of the $375 billion trade deficit President Trump vowed to lower while on the campaign trail in 2016.

There are currently in place tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese goods that resulted in China also imposing an equal $34 billion in US goods to the mainland. If List 2 and 3 become effective, the tariffs would cover around $200 billion more in Chinese goods.

The port director in Long Beach claimed the import business supports a million jobs throughout Southern California and slowdowns in China trade could result in layoffs, leading to loss of local and state tax revenues generated by business impacted by a slow down in trade.

If you have any questions how the tariff lists will impact your business, or for a free consultation on whether your goods are on one of the three lists, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce expected to present results of national security investigation into auto imports in August.

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U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross Official Portrait

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (pictured above), will present his Department’s findings on the national security investigation of auto imports into the US later next month.

The report to President Trump could impact foreign automakers as the results may lead to the importation of new tariffs – up to 25% on imported cars and parts.

Earlier in May, the U.S. Department of Commerce started a “Section 232” investigation to determine whether imports of cars and parts pose a risk to U.S. national security. As you are aware, invoking Section 232 is the same rule Trump used to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum at 25% back in March of this year.

Last week, foreign governments from Japan, Canada and the EU along with US industry groups met with Commerce to express opposition to the investigation. These groups argued higher tariffs would harm American consumers and workers along with the economy. Part of the harm would stem from an estimated increase in price of imported cars by $6,000 and price of domestic built cars by $2,000.

Check back for further news regarding the auto import tariffs as they become available.

How you can protect your company in light of the new China tariffs.

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Since “List 1” of the tariffs on Chinese goods became effective on July 6th, we’ve had many calls from importers, forwarders and brokers on the best practices moving forward. Here’s a quick summary of what any importer should do regarding their imports of Chinese goods –

  1. Apply for a company-specific exclusion from the tariffs. The U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has published procedures for doing so on their website. The current approved exclusions are from steel tariffs with more exclusions to follow as Lists 2 and 3 take effect likely later this year.
  2. Review your classifications of imported merchandise. There may be more appropriate HTSUS numbers that your merchandise can be entered under and not subject to duties.
  3. Companies can also use the rules of origin to see if imported merchandise can be from another country other than China. This could result from moving the manufacture location, or moving the location of the “substantial transformation” of those goods.
  4. Adjust the valuation of the merchandise. See if the imported goods are properly valued.
  5. If merchandise is imported to the US for export out of the US, be sure property TIB, IT, T&E bonds are filed.
  6. No one likes surprises – it is best for importers, compliance, supply chain, sales and accounting to notify company management of potential tariff changes and the economic impact these new tariffs will have on profit and costs.

If you have any questions or want to know how your company can protect itself from these new duties, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Singapore ratifies trans-pacific trade deal.

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Channel News Asia reported last Thursday that Singapore ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Originally known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the name was changed after the Trump Administration withdrew US support for the TPP after some members would not agree to US terms regarding pharmaceuticals and intellectual property protections.

Since the new CPTPP was created, only 3 nations have ratified the agreement (with Mexico and Japan as the only two countries to ratify the agreement. However, last Thursday, Singapore became the third after signing the CPTPP.

Terms of the CPTPP agreement concluded in January 23rd of this year and signed on March 8th. There are still 8 more countries that need to sign in order to ratify the treaty. Once all countries sign, the CPTPP will be in force 60 days later.

Customs broker and freight forwarder found liable for “use of a counterfeit mark in commerce”.

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A New Jersey U.S. District Court found a customs broker and freight forwarder liable for trademark infringements on Nike trademarks. The customs broker was ordered to pay $240,000 in damages and the freight forwarder will pay a yet undetermined amount.

The court held the broker and forwarder liable because they determined the arrangement of transportation and creation of documents related to the importation of the shipments constituted “use in commerce” of the Nike trademarks under the Lanham Act even though forwarder argued it had no physical control or knowledge of the shipments. Unfortunately for the broker and forwarder, the Lanham Act is a “strict liability statute” and does not consider intent or lack of intent in whether someone is liable. Speeding violations are the most common type of “strict liability statute” in that the act of speeding is the violation and it is not required to have the intent to speed. In this instance, the “use of a counterfeit mark in commerce” is the violation – with intent only a factor when determining the damages.

According to the case, (Nike, Inc. v. Eastern Ports Custom Brokers, Inc., et al., D.N.J. 2:11-cv-4390, July 19, 2018), the forwarder created the bill of lading, made arrangements for the cargo, and gave the broker a POA to act on behalf of the importer. The court ultimately found the broker and forwarder “played an active role in arranging for transportation” of the footwear and took “responsibility for the goods and making representations regarding the nature of the goods”. These actions were enough of an “use in commerce” under the Lanham Act and therefore liable for the trademark infringement.

One interesting note is the forwarder lost the case because they were in default after their lawyer withdrew in 2013. Default means a party to a lawsuit was properly served and noticed, but failed to make an appearance at any of the required hearings. For example, all parties are required to provide notice of trial dates and hearing dates. Proper notices were most likely sent by Nike to the forwarder – however, on the day of trial, no one made an appearance on behalf of the forwarder and as such lost the case for because they were in default. The forwarder, being in default, did not make an appearance and had no way to present any evidence to support their position.

Definitely an interesting case and the first time I’ve heard of a forwarder and broker liable for trademark infringement.

If you have any questions about this case and are would like to know how this ruling may impact your business as a broker or forwarder, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

ZTE pays $400 million into escrow, BIS removes ZTE from denied persons list.

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ZTE Company Logo from Wikipedia/ZTE.com

This just in, ZTE has complied with the terms of their agreement and placed $400 million into escrow. As a result, the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry Security has terminated the April 15, 2018 denial order and removed ZTE from the denied persons list. The full release from the US DOC, BIS website can be found here.

Here’s a listing of all previous ZTE posts on this blog:

ZTE and Commerce sign escrow agreement – denial ban is one step closer to being lifted.

ZTE Open for US Business – sort of and only until August 1, 2018.

ZTE deal is good to go – House bill does not include Senate language “undoing” ZTE deal.

ZTE pays $1 billion fine, $400k into escrow soon.

In-depth details of the ZTE deal.

Senate passes amendment to undo Trump’s ZTE deal.

Deal reached between the US and ZTE.

ZTE facing $1.7 billion penalty?

The real reason Trump is working to reverse the 7 year ZTE ban? To help U.S. companies!

CNBC reports the US and ZTE are working on alternatives to the denial order issued against ZTE back in April of this year.

ZTE estimated to lose $3.1 billion due to US sanctions (Bloomberg).

Deal reached to allow ZTE to purchase U.S. hardware and software?

ZTE may need to change management and board in order to access US suppliers.

ZTE report to the HKEX on the impact of the US denial order: “major operating activities of the Company have ceased”.

ZTE and Huawei banned for sale to US military personnel.

ZTE banned from purchasing US technology for 7 years.

 

 

 

What should my company do regarding the Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs?

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We are fielding a lot of calls from importers, vendors, manufacturers, brokers and freight forwarders about what to do now that the Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs are in place.

We suggest:

  1. Review the list of products to determine your company’s exposure to Section 301 and Section 232 tariffs. The First Section 301 list can be found here.
  2. If there is a product on the second list of the Section 301 tariffs, you should participate in the comment process. The second list can be found here.
  3. If you are importing a product covered under Section 301 or Section 232, look into other alternatives for sourcing.
  4. This may be a good time to review your imported and exported goods and the classification used.
  5. Notify your customers, suppliers, vendors, buyers of potential price impacts of these new tariffs.
  6. Review pending purchase orders and pending shipments with companies in China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

If you have any questions about Section 232 or Section 301, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. We also assist in filing exclusion requests and submission of comments, call or email now for immediate assistance.