United States-Mexico Trade Agreement

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The US and Mexico reached a tentative agreement that overhauls the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Part of the agreements reached between the parties include:

  1. Stricter rules for Mexican car exports to the US – including a requirement that 75% of the content be made in North America and 40-45% of the content made with workers earning at least $16/hour (three times more than Mexico’s minimum wage). This has the goal of discouraging companies to relocate to lower wage Mexico.
  2. Mexico has agreed to pass a law giving workers the right to union representation, and to adopt labor laws that meet UN standards.
  3. Certain steel and aluminum must be sourced in North America
  4. New rules to country of origin for textiles, chemicals, industrial goods.
  5. Intellectual property, copyright holders will have copy right protection in markets of all member countries.
  6. Digital trade, tariffs will be prohibited for digital products that are distributed electronically.
  7. Agriculture, the US and Mexico agreed not to impose tariffs on each other’s agricultural goods and not to use export subsidies.

Call David Hsu if you have any further questions on the new U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Dangers of Wood Packaging Materials (WPM) to your supply chain.

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Wood packaging materials (WPM) and the presence of invasive species puts your supply chain at great risk. As you are aware, CBP has strict regulations regarding the use of WPM in shipping goods from overseas. The regulations are in place to stop the spread of non-US invasive species that may wreak having on the US domestic ecosystem if the species are introduced into the US.

CBP previously has a published tolerance of five WPM violations prior to issuance of a penalty. However, after November 1, 2017, responsible parties with WPM violations may be issued a penalty after only one violation!

Why stop invasive species?
As the name implies, exotic invasive species are frequently brought into the US through use of wood packing materials. Most frequently found are “wood boring” insects that are able to make holes in the wood to lay larve. The species threaten  agriculture, forestry and other ecosystems where there may exist no natural predators.

How does Customs regulate WPM?
Wood packaging materials imported into the US are required to be treated before importation. The WPM must display a visible mark certifying treatment  on at least 2 sides – the mark must also be approved by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade.

Non-exempt wood packaging material (WPM) imported into the United States must have been treated at approved facilities at places of origin to kill harmful timber pests that may be present. The WPM must display a visible, legible, and permanent mark certifying treatment, preferably on at least 2 sides of the article. The mark must be approved under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade.

What if there is a WPM violation?
In the event of a WPM, CBP will issue a “Emergency Action Notification” (EAN) to the responsible party (party whose bond was obligated). The EAN will give the responsible party certain time to comply. Typically the solution may be to re-export the goods for fumigation and then re-import. Re-exporting the goods disrupts your supply chain and

What are the other penalties?
If a party fails to comply with the terms of EAN, CBP may issue a liquidated damages penalty.

Do you have any questions about WPM violations or have you been issued an Emergency Action Notification for WPM violations?

Call experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com

US/Mexico to reach NAFTA deal on Monday August 27th?

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According to Bloomberg News, sources close to the talks between the US and Mexico on North America Free Trade Agreement differences will reach an agreement as soon as Monday, August 27th.

During the campaign, President Trump said he would renegotiate the 24-year old trade deal to better benefit US jobs. The U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Mexican counterpart, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo are currently in talks and any deal would need to approval of President Trump.

“Never Trump” letter denies Covington Partner of ZTE Monitorship

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As reported by the National Law Journal – Peter Lichtenbaum, co-chair of Covington & Burling’s international trade and finance practice was originally set to become the compliance monitor overseeing the US settlement with ZTE Corporation. However, federal officials rescinded the offer arter learning Mr. Lichtenbaum signed a “Never Trump” letter prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Instead, Roscoe Howard, former U.S. attorney in Washington and now a white-collar defense partner at Barnes & Thornburg will be compliance monitor.

As part of ZTE’s settlement with the US government, ZTE is required to retain a team of compliance coordinators monitored by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security for a period of 10 years.

Vinyl manufacturers and importers at odds over upcoming tariffs on Chinese vinyl imports.

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Two US vinyl flooring manufacturers testified in support of the 25% tariffs at an August 21st meeting in Washington with the United States Trade Representative.

According to testimony from one of the leaders of one of the vinyl floor manufacturers, 55 to 70% of the vinyl flooring is from Asia and China alone exported $1.7 billion of vinyl flooring into the US.

On the other hand, two importers of vinyl flooring and tile argued the higher prices would hurt consumers and not change the use of Chinese industrial policies like forced technology transfer and the “Made in China 2025 program”. Specifically, the vinyl flooring importers argued duties would raise home prices, impacting lower and middle income Americans the most. In other words, duties on vinyl flooring hurt low and middle class Americans while having no effect on China’s trade practices.

If you are interested in filing comments or an exclusion to any of the upcoming duties, contact experienced trade attorney David su at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Homeland Security records largest counterfeit seizure ever – $500 million.

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A little bit of background – Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is a component of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). ICE is a federal agency under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and responsible for enforcing over 400 federal statutes within the United States.

Last Thursday (August 16th, 2018) was the culmination of a six year investigation into the importation and sale of fake luxury goods – ending with HSI officials reported seizing enough counterfeit luxury bags and belts to fill 22 shipping containers and the arrest of 33 people, all of Chinese descent.

HSI reported the seized goods included popular luxury brands “including Gucci, Tory Burch, Hermes, Coach, Burberry, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton” along with knockoff Chanel perfume.

With an estimated loss in retail value of nearly $500 million, this seizure is the largest counterfeit seizure in history, besting the 2012 seizure of $325 million worth of fake goods.

If you have had problems with CBP seizing goods due to alleged counterfeit or trademark violations, call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Japan and Peru seek early implementation of TPP.

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According to Retuers, Japan and Peru’s foreign ministers are working on an early implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to promote free trade between the two countries. Currently there are 11 members to the TPP. While an agreement has been reached between the parties, the implementation is not yet effective until enough countries ratify the agreement.

Japan has already ratified the pact, but 5 more countries need to ratify before the TPP will take effect.

One main reason for the Japan, Peru efforts may be due the year 2019 marking the 120th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Peru.

If you have any TPP questions or other trade, import, or customs questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Current US Tariff Action Deadlines

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I receive many questions about the deadlines for all the various tariff actions, I thought I’d post all the upcoming deadlines for your convenience.

If you have any questions regarding any 301 or 232 duties or are interested in filing of comments or an exclusion, or need assistance filing a response to comments, feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

August 20-23 – Public hearing in DC for List 3

August 23, 2018 – 25% duty effective on List 2

September 6, 2018 – deadline to submit written comments for List 3

September 6, 2018 – deadline to submit post-hearing rebuttal comments

October 9, 2018 – deadline for product-specific exclusions for List 1

14 days after request for exclusion posted on docket – deadline for responses to requests for product-specific exclusion.

7 days after the close of response period – deadline for responses filed during the 14-day response period.

To Be Announced – 10% or 25% duty on List 3

Dulles CBP seizes $170k in unreported currency from 7 groups of travelers.

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Busy day at Dulles airport where U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized approximately $170,000 in unreported currency from 7 different travelers.

As you are aware, it is legal to carry large amounts of currency, however, all amounts over $10,000 must be reported. The $10,000 limit is not for the individual, but rather the limit for everyone in the traveling party.

The seizures in early August included:

  1. CBP seizes $21,735 from a woman boarding a flight to Belgium. The family reported $9,700.00. Typically, CBP first asks the traveler(s) to complete FinCen Form 105 to report the amount of currency they have. After the Form 105 is completed, CBP then searches the travelers’ belongings. In this instance, after the travelers signed the form, CBP did a thorough search and found $21,735 total.
  2. On July 30, a man was boarding a flight to Ghana when he CBP seized $30,721 in unreported currency.
  3. A family on the way to Turkey was detained and CBP seized $21,000 in unreported currency. In this seizure, CBP found cash concealed in clothing and cell phone cases.
  4. Another group of travelers traveling to Ghana were stopped and CBP seized $34,585 from them. The couple mistakenly reported $10,000 was carried by each person.
  5. CBP seized $18,390 from another couple going to Turkey.
  6. $20,645 was seized from another group of travelers heading to Qatar.
  7. Last, a passenger on the way to Serbia had $17,178 seized after she reported $8,000.00.

If you have had your cash seized, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

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.