US Treasury Secretary Mnunchin may travel to Beijing for trade talks.

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77th United States Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin

Earlier this week, current US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters he may travel to Beijing for trade negotiations to ease U.S.-China tensions.

In recent weeks both countries have announced tariffs on goods imported from the other country and the tensions between the US and China (the world’s two largest trading partners) has raised concerns of an impending trade war. The US first proposed tariffs totaling $150 billion on Chinese imports and Beijing has proposed tariffs on American goods such as soybeans.

In response, the Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China would “welcome” the move by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.

More updates as they become available.

EU wants to participate in the US-China steel dispute at the WTO.

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As previously posted on this blog, China requested consultations with the WTO regarding the US import tariffs on steel and aluminum. Requesting a consultation with the WTO is the first stage in the dispute process with the WTO and now the EU asked on April 23rd to join the dispute.

It is important to note that one week from now, President Trump will decide whether these tariffs would apply to imports from the EU. A temporary exemption from the 25% duty on steel and 10% duty on aluminum was granted for the EU until May 1st. Temporary exemptions were also granted to Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina and Brazil. South Korean imports have been exempted indefinitely.

In addition to the EU, Hong Kong, Russia, India and Thailand have also filed requests to join the consultations. Check back for more information as it becomes available.

 

Senate Finance Leaders Ask Commerce Secretary to Improve Tariff Exclusion Process.

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Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

According to the Senate Finance Committee website, Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) urged the U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to implement improvements to the Commerce Department’s process for excluding products from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

In short, the letter voices concerns that the process lacks “basic due process and procedural fairness for stakeholders, especially American small businesses” and “appropriate mechanisms to prevent the Section 232 tariffs and product exclusion process from being abused for anticompetitive purposes.”

The Senators write the exclusion request process requires submission of a “substantial amount of information at a minute level of detail” for each imported product and may increase the burden for small businesses. Additionally the Senators state the request and objection forms allow for ambiguity by the Commerce department to approve or deny a product. Lastly, Commerce has not specified how to protect business proprietary information, how to address ex parte communications, how to ensure consistent determination across similar petitioners and objectors.

A full text of the letter can be viewed here (scroll to the bottom, full letter in italics).

If you have any questions about the 232 exclusion process, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

ZTE banned from purchasing US technology for 7 years.

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ZTE Corporate Campus in Shenzhen, China; Photo Credit: Brücke-Osteuropa from Wikipedia

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) imposed a denial of export privileges against ZTE, composed of Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation, of Shenzhen, China (“ZTE Corporation”) and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd. of Hi-New Shenzhen, China (“ZTE Kangxun”).

Background

In March of 2017, ZTE agreed to pay civil and criminal penalty and forfeitures totaling $1.19 billion for shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea, making false statements, and obstructing justice by preventing disclosure to and misleading the U.S. Government. In 2017, ZTE also agreed to a seven-year denial of export privileges if ZTE committed additional violations.

Commerce found ZTE made several violations such as making false statements to BIS in 2016 and making false statements about disciplinary actions against employees involved in the shipment of equipment to Iran and North Korea.

Result

By activating the seven-year denial of export privileges, ZTE is prohibited from participating in any way in any transaction subject to the EAR. The prohibition also makes it unlawful for businesses and individuals to participate in an export transaction subject to the EAR with a denied person (ZTE).

If you have any questions about how the recent ZTE order may effect your business, or have any other BIS, EAR or export compliance issues – contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes $107,360 in unreported currency from traveler headed to Jordan.

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Courtesy CBP.gov Website

Another day, another CBP media release of a currency seizure. This time the seizure occurred at Chicago O’Hare (ORD). On April 11th, a traveler departing ORD to Jordan was intercepted by CBP and found to be concealing $107,360 in sealed shirt bags.

31 USC 5316 indicates that all travelers must report currency in the amount of $10,000 or more. Travelers carrying $10,000 or more need to complete a FinCEN Form 105, also known as the Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (CMIR).

If you have had currency seized, call David Hsu for immediate assistance, 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. We can assist clients all over the world, don’t delay call today.

CBP seizes combined $152k in unreported currency from two travelers in April 2018.

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Courtesy CBP.gov Website

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), officers at the Philadelphia International Airport seized a combined total of 152,342 in unreported currency from two travelers departing out of who recently departed PHL.

As a general rule, travelers can carry as much currency (cash, checks, money orders, or other monetary instruments), but MUST report all amounts totaling $10,000 or more on a U.S. Department of Treasury financial form.

The first seizure took place on April 1st, where a traveler headed to Turkey was seized with $46,500 and the second seizure occurred on April 7th, where a traveler to Ghana had possessed $105,842.

If you or anyone you know has had cash seized at the airport, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.

We work hard to get your hard earned money back from Customs, don’t delay – call today!

Does President Trump want the US to become the 12th TPP member?

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According to a Daily Caller website article published today, President Trump asked Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow to look into rejoining the trans-pacific partnership. The Daily Caller cites Senators Ben Sasse and Pat Roberts as the source of the news.

Sasse noted that Trump “deputized” Kudlow to “go get it done” and explore the possibility of rejoining TPP as the 12th party now that the other 11 nations have struck a deal. “It might be easier for us to join now, as opposed to long process,” he elaborated.

No other details are mentioned in the article but updates will be posted they are available.

Latest CBP Instructions on Section 232 Investigations (April 11, 2018)

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Photocredit: Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock

See below for the most recent instructions regarding the Section 232 Investigations. These instructions were released by the CBP, on April 11th. The original text can be found here.

Commodities: Unchanged and includes steel mill and aluminum articles as specified in proclamations.

COUNTRIES COVERED:
March 23, 2018 through April 30, 2018: All countries of origin except Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, South Korea, Brazil and member countries of the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom).

However, after May 1, 2018, all countries of origin.

Customs does make a note to remind readers that it is based on the country of origin, not the country of export.

ENTRY SUMMARY FILING INSTRUCTIONS:

Steel Products: importers shall use the HTS classification for imported merchandise subject to duty: 9903.80.01 (25 percent ad valorem additional duty for steel mill products)

Aluminum Products: importers shall use HTS classification: 9903.85.01 (10 percent ad valorem additional duty for aluminum products)

If the two above HTS numbers are not used for importers under Chapters 72, 73 and 76 for the covered countries of origin, these error messages will display:

E1 IQ10 LINE SUBJECT TO QUOTA

E1 FQ09 QUOTA NOT ALLOWED FOR ENTRY TYPE

E1 FQ05 BANNED IMPORT

E1 RF998 TRANSACTION DATA REJECTED

Note: Quota is not in effect, but this ACE functionality is being used to validate entry summary transmissions and reject when validations determine the data is missing the required chapter 99 number.

If importers or filers do not include the chapter 99 code with their Post Summary Corrections for imports under Chapters 72, 73 and 76, the above reject messages will also appear.

Importers may file a protest if they believe an entry was incorrectly liquidated.

Below are the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS from the CBP website copied for your convenience.

1. What is the timing of duty calculations on immediate transportation in bond entries subject to Section 232?

Pursuant to the Presidential Proclamations, duties are due on goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018.

19 CFR 141.69(b) states:

Merchandise which is not subject to a quantitative or tariff-rate quota and which is covered by an entry for immediate transportation made at the port of original importation, if entered for consumption at the port designated by the consignee or his agent in such transportation entry without having been taken into custody by the port director for general order under section 490, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended ( 19 U.S.C. 1490), shall be subject to the rates in effect when the immediate transportation entry was accepted at the port of original importation.

For such entries covered by an entry for immediate transportation, and with a country of origin and Harmonized Tariff Schedule classification subject to the Presidential Proclamations, such entries shall be subject to the duty rates in effect when the immediate transportation entry was accepted at the port of original importation.

Accordingly, entries of steel and aluminum articles covered by an entry for immediate transportation accepted at the port of original importation before March 23, may have been incorrectly rejected by CBP and/or incorrectly filed with a Chapter 99 steel or aluminum HTS classification.

CBP is working to address the incorrectly filed entries to alleviate the need for the trade to resubmit entry summaries, submit post summary corrections (PSC), or file protests. CBP is aware that some entry summaries incorrectly submitted with the Chapter 99 HTS classification may have a deadline approaching to pay the associated duties. CBP will fully consider the issues associated with these entries in enforcing the duty deadline and CBP will be addressing these entries promptly. Importers who incorrectly paid duties pursuant to the Presidential Proclamations on an AD/CVD entry, and want to request an administrative refund of these duties prior to liquidation, may file a PSC to request an administrative refund of these duties prior to liquidation.

2. Which Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) classifications under HTS 7616.99.51 are subject to the Section 232 duties.

Per the Presidential Proclamations, 7616.99.51.60 and 7616.99.51.70 are subject to the Section 232 duties.

 

If you have any questions, call customs and trade law attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

US-Bahrain Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Trade in Food and Agriculture Products.

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Flag of Bahrain (credit Wikipedia)

According to a press release posted on Monday, April 9th – the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that the United States and Bahrain have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Trade in Food and Agriculture Products. One highlight of the MOU is the increase in certainty and enhanced cooperation on requirements for U.S. exports of food and agriculture products to Bahrain, and enables more opportunities for the United States and Bahrain to continue joint efforts to facilitate bilateral trade in food and agriculture products.

The MOU also says indicated that Bahrain will continue to accept existing U.S. export certifications for food and agricultural products. Accepting current export certifications will save U.S. exporters the cost of new certifications. The MOU also discussed increasing the export of food and agricultural products from the United States to Bahrain.

A full copy of the US-Bahrain MOU can be found here.

US Court determines Thanksgiving and Christmas dinnerware is not eligible for duty-free entry into the US.

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In an interesting case, the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the Court of International Trade’s argument that dinnerware decorated with “festive motifs” and frequently used during Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner do not qualify for duty-free treatment because the articles are not “for use in specific religious or cultural ritual celebrations”.

The importer’s dinnerware included holiday designs such as Christmas trees, turkeys, wreaths etc. intended for using during a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. The importer initially claimed the dinnerware was duty-free under HTSUS 9817.95.01 “Certain Festive Articles”. The importer said the Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were specific cultural celebrations and the dinnerware was part of the performance of these celebrations. The CIT claimed, and the US Court of Appeals agreed, that while Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner were cultural celebrations, they however were not specific rituals as required under the HTSUS code.