Boston CBP busy ensuring pest-free flowers for Valentine’s Day.

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Must be a slow day for the CBP media team as CBP has released a third piece on pest-free flowers for Valentine’s Day. This release features the agriculture specialists at Boston Logan airport (BOS) which is also in the Top 10 nationwide for flower imports into the United States.

This media release highlights the agriculture specialists working hard to ensure the importer flowers do not have pests or diseases that can cause damage to US agriculture.

Last year during Valentine’s Day, CBP agriculture specialists discovered 2,992 pests after processing about 1.4 billion cut flower stems. 2018 saw an increase of 33% in inspection of cut flower stems compared to 2017’s 1.09 billion.

If CBP finds pests or diseases, they will typically treat and release, re-export or destroy the flowers. Most invasive pests include the species of Margarodidae, Arion and Miridae, commonly known as mealy bugs, slugs, and plant or leaf bugs, respectively. Most of the flower shipments to the US are from South America, primarily Colombia and Ecuador.

If you have had a seizure detained or seized by Customs, or Customs has found invasive pests in your wood packaging material, contact experienced bug attorney David Hsu at dh@gjatradelaw.com or by phone/text: 832.896.6288.

Customs seizes $4.4 million in counterfeit products in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

counterfeit seizure

Images of the seized items. Source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release – Customs agents in Puerto Rico seized counterfeit products with an estimated msrp of $15 million dollars with an actual purchase price of $4.4 million.

In another seizure, CBP officers conducted a 6-day operation in January where they seized 73 packages with intellectual property rights violations totaling $1.8 million.

In a 6-day special operation this January, CBP officers intercepted 73 packages with IPR violations valued at an estimated MSRP of $1. 8 million.

The seized items included counterfeit watches, jewelry, bags, clothing, sunglasses and featured luxury brands such as Pandora, Tous, Nike, Rolex, Hublot, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc.

The rest of the news releases restates the danger of using and buying counterfeit goods and the impact of counterfeit goods on business revenue while also saying the proceeds from counterfeit purchases fund illicit businesses.

If you have a customs seizure for alleged IPR violations, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at dh@gjatradelaw.com or call/text: 832-896-6288.

US Customs agents ensure pest-free flowers just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Customs VDay

Source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release, Customs’ agriculture specialists are working hard to examine the hundreds of millions of cut flower stems arriving into the US in time for Valentine’s Day later this week. CBP will especially exam cut flower stems to look for plant diseases and plant pests before they enter the United States.

While it is okay to bring flowers and floral arrangements into the US, there are some prohibited plant species that will be used in the arrangement and that all agricultural products are declared.

CBP officers at the Laredo filed office processed 11.3 million cut flower stems from January to February 14th and ranks fifth largest office by volume for cut flower importations nationwide.

If you  have received a notice from Customs or have any further questions, call experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Customs seizes $3.7 million in counterfeit watches at JFK airport.

Seized Watches

Image of seized watches, source: CBP.gov website

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, Customs officers in mid-January seized a shipment of counterfeit watches from Hong Kong with an estimated manufacturer suggested retail price of $3.7 million dollars.

The watches seized infringed upon Rolex, Hublot, Nike, Michael Kors and other trademarks.

If you have had a shipment seized and Customs issued you a detention notice, seizure notice or you received a civil or criminal penalty, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288, office 713-932-1540 or by email at dh@gjatradelaw.com.

American Farm Bureau Federation supports Commerce Department anti-dumping investigation of Mexican tomatoes.

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The U.S. Department of Commerce will resume anti-dumping investigations into imports of Mexican tomatoes despite a previous agreement not to.

Zippy Duvall, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation indicated an anti-dumping investigation was needed because Mexican producers have increased their market share despite an agreement to ban artificially low prices.

On February 6, 2019, the Department of Commerce notified Mexico they would withdraw from the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico under a clause that the signatories may withdraw from the Agreement with “ninety days written notice to the other party”. The expiration of the 90-days is May 7, 2019.

After the withdraw on May 8th, an investigation by the Department of Commerce will continue and will send notification to the International Trade Commission of its final determination.

If you are an importer of Mexican tomatoes or want to know how this may impact you, contact antidumping duty attorney David Hsu at dh@gjatradelaw.com or by phone/text at 832.896.6288 for a no cost or obligation consultation.

Democrat and Republican Senators support legislation to end trade embargo with Cuba.

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U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt introduced legislation to lift the Cuba trade embargo over 50 years ago. The group of Senators, introduced legislation known as the “Freedom to Export to Cuba Act” that would allow Americans to do business with Cuba. The group believes ending the trade embargo would allow US exporters greater access to the Cuban market for American goods. For example, the Senators also indicated removing the trade embargo would represent a $2 billion annual opportunity for US farmers.

Besides the multiple Senators, the legislation has also been endorsed by Engage Cuba, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Latin America Working Group and Cargill.

Check back later if the “Freedom to Export to Cuba Act” repeals the current legal restrictions against doing business with Cuba, especially the 1961 rule that created the embargo and prohibited direct shipping between the US/Cuba and transactions between US owned firms and Cuba.

Trump issues order for agencies to buy US made steel, aluminum and cement.

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U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Official portrait from whitehouse.gov

U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed a new executive order late January to further his “Buy America” initiative. The new executive order encourages government agencies to purchase a wider range of US made materials for infrastructure projects such as steel, aluminum and cement.

President Trump’s first “Buy America” executive order was signed in 2017, called the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.

The executive order also requires the head of each agency to submit a report to President Trump identifying new opportunities to use Buy America rules. The reports are due by May 31st.

Full text of the executive order can be found here.

CBP issues detention order against Tunago No. 61.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP issued a withhold release order against tuna and tuna products from the Tunago No. 61. The basis for the withhold order is information obtained by CBP indicating tuna is harvested with the use of forced labor.

The order is effective immediately starting on the date of issuance – February 6, 2019.

What is a detention order?
Detention orders require detention of entry of tuna and any such merchandise manufactured wholly or in part by the Tunago No. 61. Importers of detained shipments are provided an opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

What is the law on forced labor?
19 U.S.C. § 1307 prohibits the importation into the US of goods made, in whole or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor. If CBP believes forced labor was used, CBP will issue a “withhold release order”. Most of the orders are a result of information presented to CBP that “reasonably indicates” the imported goods were made with forced labor.

If you have received a notice or are being investigated by CBP for use of forced labor, call experienced trade and customs attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

OFAC reaches settlement with Kollmorgen over Iran sanctions violations.

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According to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced a $13,381 settlement with Kollmorgen Corporation (“Kollmorgen”) of Radford, Virginia. Kollmorgen has agreed to settle potential civil liability on behalf of its Turkish affiliate Elsim Elektroteknik Sistemler Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi (“Elsim”) for six apparent violations of Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 560 (ITSR). The apparent violations involved Elsim dispatching employees to Iran to service machines and providing other services to Iran in violation of ITSR § 560.215. OFAC determined that Kollmorgen voluntarily self-disclosed the apparent violations on behalf of Elsim and that the apparent violations constitute a non-egregious case.

If you have any questions about the Iran sanctions, want to update your OFAC compliance program or have concerns that your company or any affiliate is violating OFAC sanctions on Iran, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Investigation on Certain Fabricated Structural Steel from Canada, Mexico, and China.

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Yesterday, the American Institute of Steel Construction, LLC (AISC) filed a petition to assess antidumping and countervailing (AD/CVD) duties on imports of certain fabricated structural steel from Canada, Mexico and China.

The scope covers:

The merchandise covered by this investigation includes carbon and alloy (including stainless) steel products such as angles, columns, beams, girders, plates, flange shapes (including manufactured structural shapes utilizing welded plates as a substitute for rolled wide flange sections), channels, hollow structural section (HSS) shapes, base plates, plate-work components, and other steel products that have been fabricated for assembly or installation into a structure (fabricated structural steel). Fabrication includes, but is not limited to, cutting, drilling, welding, joining, bolting, bending, punching, pressure fitting, molding, adhesion, and other processes.

Fabricated structural steel products include products in which iron predominates and the carbon content is two percent or less by weight. Most notably, the investigation and potential duty orders will apply to fabricated structural steel.

The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under subheadings: 7308.90.9590, 7308.90.3000, and 7308.90.6000.
The products subject to the investigation may also enter under the following HTSUS subheadings: 7216.91.0010, 7216.91.0090, 7216.99.0010, 7216.99.0090, 7228.70.6000, 7301.10.0000, 7301.20.1000, 7301.20.5000, 7308.40.0000, 7308.90.9530, and 9406.90.0030.

If you have any questions how the investigation and potential antidumping or countervailing duties will impact your business, call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at dhsu@givensjohnston.com or call/text: 832-896-6288.