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.

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.

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.

Federal Register just released the requirements for requesting exclusions under the most recent steel and aluminum – check back for summary.

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The Federal Register posted the interim requirements for requesting an exclusion from the most recent Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. Check back for a detailed summary.

The full text of the Federal Register interim final rules on requesting exclusions can be found here:

https://www.commerce.gov/sites/commerce.gov/files/federal_register_vol_83_no_53_monday_march_19_2018_12106-12112.pdf

For answers to all your Section 232 aluminum and steel questions, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

What are Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum?

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This post is in response to many queries we have received since last week’s announcement by President Trump of new tariffs effective March 23rd on aluminum and steel imports to the US under Section 232.

A Section 232 investigation is conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The original purpose of a 232 investigation was to determine whether or not the import affects national security. The investigations are started based on an application from an interested party (usually a domestic producer), at the request of any department or agency head, or it may be self-initiated by the Secretary of Commerce.

The Secretary of Commerce then prepares a report to the President focusing on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under circumstances that threaten to impair national security. If the import impairs national security, the President can concur or not with the Secretary’s recommendations and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

The Secretary’s report to the President, prepared within 270 days of initiation, focuses on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security. The President can concur or not with the Secretary’s recommendations, and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

The last section 232 investigation occurred in 2001 regarding iron ore and semi-finished steel.

Last week, President Trump imposed a 25% global tariff on steel imports and a 10% global tariff on:

Aluminum imports, including the following products:
7601.10 Aluminum, Not Alloyed, Unwrought
7601.20 Aluminum Alloys, Unwrought
7604 Aluminum bars, rods and profiles
7605 Aluminum wire
7606 Aluminum plates, sheets and strip, over 0.2mm
7607 Aluminum foil (whether or not printed or backed with paper or other backing materials)
7608 Aluminum tubes and pipes
7609 Aluminum tube or pipe fittings
7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.5170 Aluminum castings

Steel products within the broad scope of the global tariffs:
Carbon and alloy flat products;
Carbon and alloy long products;
Carbon and alloy pipe and tube products;
Carbon and alloy semi-finished products;
Stainless steel products.

If you have any questions about whether or not your imports may be subject to these new duties after March 23rd, contact AD/CVD attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

What is a “US Purchaser Questionnaire” from the International Trade Commission?

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Many of our clients who have been in business for multiple decades call our office regarding their receipt of an “US Purchaser Questionnaire” from the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

If you or your company receives this questionnaire (usually by email), it means the ITC is in the final phase of their anti-dumping/countervailing duty investigation. The responses from US Purchasers are then used to determine if the US industry is harmed or has the potential to be harmed by these importations.

It is important to respond to these questionnaires as the ITC has subpoena power and the ability to compel the submission of records and information for any purchaser who does not respond. To make replying more convenient, questionnaire responses can be sent back to the ITC online (usually through Dropbox).

If you or someone you know has received one of these questionnaires and has any questions about completing the questionnaire – or any questions about anti-dumping and countervailing duties, contact experienced attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Taiwan requests WTO consultations with the US over the Trump administration’s tariffs on solar cells.

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After the Trump administration announced tariffs on solar modules and cell manufacturers for the next 5 years with tariff rates starting at 30%, Taiwan submitted a request for a consultation with the US regarding these duties.

Taiwan’s January 29th filing states:

“Having a substantial interest as an exporter in this case, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu requests consultations with United States under Article 12.3 of the Agreement on Safeguards with a view to, inter alia, exchanging views on the proposed measure and reaching an understanding on ways to achieve the objective set out in Article 8.1 of the Agreement on Safeguards,”

Taiwan is also one of the world’s leading PV manufacturing industries and approximately 13 GW of solar cell manufacturing capability.

More updates to follow if and when a consultation occurs.

If your company imports solar modules and PV cells subject to these dumping rates or you want to know whether your imports are within the scope of the order, call experienced antidumping and countervailing duty attorney David Hsu for a free consultation, 832-896-6288, dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Bassett Mirror Company to pay $10.5 million for allegations of evading customs duties.

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According to a January 16, 2018 Department of Justice press release – Virginia based home furniture company, Bassett Mirror Company (Bassett) will pay $10.5 million to resolve allegations that Bassett violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by “knowingly making false statements on customs declarations to avoid paying antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)”.

Wooden bedroom furniture from the People’s Republic Of China is covered under case number: A-570-890 and the scope includes:


The product covered by the order is wooden bedroom furniture. Wooden bedroom furniture is generally, but not exclusively, designed, manufactured, and offered for sale in coordinated groups, or bedrooms, in which all of the individual pieces are of approximately the same style and approximately the same material and/or finish. The subject merchandise is made substantially of wood products, including both solid wood and also engineered wood products made from wood particles, fibers, or other wooden materials such as plywood, oriented strand board, particle board, and fiberboard, with or without wood veneers, wood overlays, or laminates, with or without non-wood components or trim such as metal, marble, leather, glass, plastic, or other resins, and whether or not assembled, completed, or finished.

Since 2004, imports of wooden beddroom furniture from China have been subject to dumping duties and the current PRC rate is 216 percent.

The US Department of Justice alleged that for a five year period (2009 to 2014), Bassett evaded payment of antidumping duties owed by misclassifying the furniture as non-bedroom furniture on import documents. By classifying imports as “non-bedroom furniture”, Bassett avoiding paying the duty rate of 216%.

In general, antidumping duties are imposed against foreign companies for “dumping” products into the US market at prices below cost. Most of the foreign companies are located in “non market economy” countries such as People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. By imposing anti dumping duties on goods, the US Department of Commerce is attempting to protect US businesses and “level the playing field” for domestically manufactured products.

Given the current administration in the White House, we can expect the Department of Justice, CBP, and Commerce to further strengthen their enforcement of antidumping duties for any and all goods entering the US.

If you are not sure whether your imports from China are considered “wooden bedroom furniture, or if you have been alleged to violate the false claims act by misclassifying imports, avoiding payment of duties or any other import and export related claim from the US government, contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com immediately. There is no cost for the initial consultation and in most instances, time limits to take action are running – don’t miss your chance, contact us today.

Baltimore CBP Seizes $1 Million in Counterfeit Stainless Steel Sinks.

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On Wednesday, January 17th, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Baltimore seized over 2,900 stainless sinks for displaying a counterfeit UPC shield design on the 17th.

CBP initially detained the shipment for anti-dumping and countervailing duties enforcement and during their examination found the UPC shield logo. In addition to looking for shipments subject to ADD/CVD duties, CBP also enforces the intellectual property rights of trademark holders, among others.

CBP and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) specialists sent the UPC shield logo to the registered trademark holder, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, the registered trademark holder, who determined the use of the logo to be unauthorized.

As the marks were unauthorized, CBP seized the entire shipment for containing markings without trademark holder’s authorization (19 CFR 133.21).

The full release can be found here: https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/local-media-release/baltimore-cbp-seizes-1m-counterfeit-stainless-steel-sinks

If you or anyone you know has had any property seized by customs for suspected intellectual property rights violations, please contact your trade and customs law attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

USITC Votes to Continue Investigations on Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet from China.

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According to News Release 18-008 from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) website (found here), the USITC voted to continue investigations on common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The USITC typically continues investigations if they believe there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured due to imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The “material injury” results because the USITC believes the manufacturing of aluminum sheet is being subsidized and sold in the US at a cost lower than “fair value”.

A continuation of an investigation means the US Department of Commerce (Commerce) will continue antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. The due date for the preliminary countervailing duty determination is due February 1, 2018. The antidumping duy determination is due on April 17, 2018.

The investigation of common alloy aluminum sheet from China can be found in Investigation Numbers 701-TA-591 and 731-TA-1399, publication number 4757, dated January 2018.

If you have any questions about these orders, or want to know if any of the products you import may be subject to dumping, please feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.