Japan-US Trade Pact in effect starting January 1, 2020.

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Mt. Fuji in the background, source: Jane Chang

The Japan-U.S. trade agreement started in April 2019, and starting January 1st, comes into effect, resulting in an immediate cut in tariffs on American farm products and a variety of Japanese industrial goods. Unfortunately, the trade agreement does not include passenger cars and auto parts. In addition to a trade agreement, the US and Japan reached an agreement on digital trade. As the US pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, this trade agreement was crucial for continued US/Japan trade.

Some terms of the trade deal include a reduction in import duty of US beef from 38.5% to 26.6%, with the ultimate duty rate of 9% in 2033. Other duties on cheese, wine, pork will eventually reach zero. In return, US duties on Japanese air conditioner parts and fuel cells were also removed as part of the deal.

While this current trade deal does not address import duties on cars and parts from Japan, second round talks with Washington (set for April 2020) may result in a trade deal. But the United States maintains import duties on cars and auto parts from Japan, despite strong calls for their abolition by the Japanese side.

We have been keeping up with this new trade deal, if you are wondering how it may impact your business, give us a call or text at 832-896-6288 or send us an email to David Hsu at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or work official email: dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Dulles CBP officers seize $32,000 in unreported currency.

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Seized currency from Ghana bound traveler, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  media release, CBP officers at Washington Dulles International Airport seized $32,000 from a traveler headed to Ghana for violating currency reporting requirements.

While stopped by CBP, the US citizen and resident of Liberia made verbal representations he was in possession of $15,000. Additionally, the media release claims the traveler also declared in writing that he was only carrying $15,000. Not mentioned in the media release – but Customs will ask you to sign the Fincen form. If you are asked to sign this form, be sure to report ALL the currency you are carrying and include all the travelers in your group.

It is important to write the actual amount you have and anyone you are traveling with. Our clients have had their money seized for under reporting by just $8 dollars (yes, not a typo – eight dollars).

After the verbal and written declaration, CBP officers did a baggage examination and found a total of $33,040.

What’s not written in the article is the incredibly invasive nature of the baggage examination – CBP will take you and your luggage to a room and go through everything: unzip everything, check every pocket, check every sock, check every single item of clothing and open anything that can be opened. This will take a long time and you will miss your flight.

In the instant seizure, CBP returned $750 as a “humanitarian release” and allowed the traveler to continue on his way. The humanitarian release is a discretionary amount that does not have to be provided to the traveler and the amount returned can be nothing to several hundred. This humanitarian release of $750 is fairly generous for a single traveler –

If you have had your hard earned cash and currency seized by Customs, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text for immediate assistance – my number is 832-896-6288 or you can email me at my catch-all email: attorney.dave@yahoo.com or official work address: dh@gjatradelaw.com.

If you have received a seizure notice, don’t delay, time is running from the date of the letter and you must take action.

Trump administration focusing on stopping online sale of counterfeit goods.

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Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

According to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security last week, the Trump administration is taking “immediate action” against the sale of counterfeit goods by fining and issuing other penalties to online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon.

Click here for the full report of the “Combating Trafficking in Counterfeit and Pirated Goods – Report to the President of the United States“.

Other parts of the plan include suspending repeat offenders, issuing civil fines and penalties and investigating and prosecuting intellectual property violations throughout the supply chain. While the goal of the new plan was in the report, details of actual new measures to be taken were not.

The recently issued report is a result of President Trump’s call to action for the Department of Homeland Security to look at slowing the sale of counterfeit goods on third-party websites like eBay and Amazon.

Last year, the US government seized over 28,000 shipments containing counterfeit goods valued at about $1.5 billion dollars.

If you were the importer of record and received a seizure notice for importing goods that were determined to be counterfeit by Customs – contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019.

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Photo by Florian Köppen on Pexels.com

In early December 2019, the Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019 was introduced in the U.S. Senate to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enforce design patents at the border.

Currently, Customs has the power to enforce only copyrights and trademarks that have been previously recorded with Customs under Section 1595a(c)(2)(C) of Title 19 of the U.S. Code.

The new bill amends amending 19 U.S.C. § 1595a(c)(2)(C) to allow Customs discretionary power to seize and detain imported goods that infringe upon a recorded U.S. design patent.

The reason for this bill is because counterfeiters are capable of producing nearly 1 to 1 replicas of goods that avoid seizure by Customs because the counterfeit goods do not include the infringing trademark.

For example, in 2018, counterfeiters imported over $70 million in fake Nike shoes similar to the Air Jordan line and avoided customs by not including the trademarked logos – not surprisingly, Nike is one prominent supporter of the new bill.

If the bill passes, future counterfeit Air Jordan shoes omitting any trademarked labels would be subject to seizure as Customs would now be able to enforce design patents.

If you have had a seizure for suspected violations of intellectual property or trademarks, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Customs seizes $32,000 in currency from travelers.

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Image of seized unreported currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release, CBP officers working at the San Antonio International Airport carried out 2 seizures of currency currency from travelers who under reported the amount of currency they were carrying.

In the first seizure, CBP officers stopped a pair of travelers arriving from Mexico. The travelers individually reported they were carrying less than $10,000, but upon subsequent questioning by CBP, admitted they divided the money amongst each other to get below the $10,000 threshold. This agreement among parties to divide the money amongst themselves is known as “structuring” in the eyes of Customs. The total amount seized from the two travelers totaled $14,807.

Similarly, in the second seizure, 2 Mexican nationals were detained and questioned regarding the amount of currency they were carrying. Both individuals reported carrying below the $10,000 threshold amount, however, they both admitted they divided the currency before boarding the flight. The combined amount of currency totaled $17,200.

In short, the two take aways are to always report how much currency you are carrying and to answer all questions by CBP truthfully.

Other tips to avoid currency seizures:

  1. Always declare any amounts you have.
  2. Always declare any currency (regardless of denomination), monetary instruments such as checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, etc.
  3. If you are traveling in a group, count the group as one.

While not mentioned, I believe the travelers were alerted to CBP by trained dogs and then the travelers were followed on camera prior to the flight.

“Travelers are provided multiple opportunities to mak

If you or someone you know have had their hard earned currency seized by Customs, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

USMCA Signing Day for the US.

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Official portrait of President Donald J. Trump, Friday, October 6, 2017. (Official White House photo by Shealah Craighead)

Later today, President Trump will sign the house and senate approved USMCA bill. The replacement for the 25-year old trade agreement NAFTA won’t immediately take effect as Canada remains the only country that has not yet approved the USMCA (expected to do so in a few weeks). Give me a call/text if you have questions how the USMCA will impact you or your business – 832-896-6288 or send me an email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

End of the Customs Broker’s District Permit?

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Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

For the past several years, there have been efforts within CBP to remove the requirement for individual district permits. Just recently CBP published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to take the first step to getting rid of the district permits (see: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/programs-administration/customs-brokers).

The proposed rules will likely address the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee’s (COAC) recommendations. Some recommendations are listed below:

  1. “District permit” and “national permit” will be replaced with “the permit” to reflect a single permit functioning at the national level.
  2. Single permit allows brokers to have authority to conduct customs business at the national level.
  3.  Transition to a single permit.
  4.  Brokers need to show evidence how they intend to exercise responsible supervision and control.
  5.  Enhancements to ACE for broker reporting and streamlining broker reporting.
  6.  Requires the Power of Attorney come from the importer to the broker.
  7.  Removing specific feed dollar amounts
  8.  Require customs business may be conducted only within the customs territory of the United States.

If you need help or have questions about this transition, give David Hsu a call/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Huawei’s Google maps alternative.

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Photo by Ingo Joseph on Pexels.com

As you are aware, Huawei’s inclusion on the US entity list means no access Android and the Google Play Store. As a result Huawei has been looking at alternative companies to replace the Google Maps application – and last week, found their replacement.

According to Reuters, Huawei reached a deal with Dutch mapping company, TomTom which will see TomTom providing Huawei access to their navigation, mapping and traffic information.

With the TomTom information, Huawei will create their own proprietary apps for their own Harmony Operating System.

If you have any questions how Huawei’s inclusion on the BIS entity list will impact your business or if you are in need of export compliance, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

15,000 invasive mitten crabs seized since September 2019.

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Image of seized mitten crabs, source: CBP.gov

According to a US Customs and Border Protection media release, Customs agents in Cincinnati have seized 3,700 mitten crabs from China and Hong Kong in the past 4 months.

Over the past 4 months, 3,700 mitten crabs have been found in 51 shipments and were set to be delivered to New York. The shipments were labeled as “tools and various clothing articles”. Nationwide, Customs has seized over 15,000 mitten crabs since September 2019. The mitten crabs are considered a delicacy in Asia.

Here in the US, mitten crabs are an invasive species because they are omnivores and eat anything, impacting the food supply to aquatic plants, fish, algae, other crabs and all living organisms in the water. Mitten crabs are also especially invasive as they are found in fresh water when young and salty water in adult life. Mitten crabs also tend to burrow furthering land erosion and weakening levees and flood control measures.

If you have received a letter from Customs regarding the wrongful importation of invasive species or if you have questions about the exportation of foods that may be subject to Fish and Wildlife regulations, contact experienced Customs and seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP seizes $900,000 in counterfeit money.

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Image of seized envelope containing $1 bills, source: CBP.gov

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Image of cartons containing counterfeit US currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers at the International Falls Port of Entry in Minnesota detained a rail container from China and referred to a Customs Exam inspection. Upon inspection, CBP officers found 45 cartons of currency in $1 denominations. CBP referred the seized currency to the US Secret Service who determined the currency was counterfeit.

If you have had your shipment detained, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.