US detains solar panel imports due to forced labor concerns.

black and silver solar panels
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Back in June of 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection imposed a ban on solar panels from a company called Hoshine Silicon – a producer of raw materials used in the manufacturing of solar panels. The ban was instituted by CBP under the forced labor provisions – in which CBP can block goods believe to have been made using forced labor. Hoshine Silicon operates plants in China’s Xinjiang region and is suspected of using forced labor. Forced labor covers a broad range of actions by the employer and in the case of Hoshine, it is believed they intimidate workers and restrict their movements. Hoshine is also believed to be participating in state-sponsored employment programs targeted towards minorities in the Xinjiang region into factory jobs – forced labor in that there is no choice but to accept the jobs.

Hoshine plays a major role in the manufacturing of solar panels and the raw materials they sell are sold to at least 8 of the largest polysilicon manufacturers, also based in China. The polysilicon is then used to make solar panels. The largest solar manufacturing companies are based in China due to cheap electricity and other low manufacturing costs. Some human rights watchdogs claim the use of forced labor is another factor driving down the prices of Chinese solar panels.

If you have had your goods detained based on suspicion of being manufactured using forced labor – contact David Hsu by phone or text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Forced labor modification for Top Glove Corp. Bhd.

a woman with gloves
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Back in March of 2021, CBP published a finding of forced labor in the Federal Register for disposable gloves produced in Malaysia by Top Glove Corporation Bhd. The finding against Top Glove was due to reports of forced labor indicators such as: debt bondage, excessive overtime, abusive working and living conditions and retention of identity documents.

A finding of forced labor results in a “Withhold Release Order” (WRO) that instructs CBP to seize shipments of the gloves produced using the forced labor. It is then up to the importer to prove the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

The process a company needs to take involves a request to modify or revoke a finding. Each situation is different, but in general, CBP will modify a WRO or findings if there is enough evidence the subject merchandise is no longer produced or manufactured using forced labor.

In Top Glove’s situation – Top Glove paid $30 million in payments to workers and improved the living and working conditions at the company’s facilities.

If you are subject to a WRO or CBP finding of forced labor, or if you have any compliance concerns to ensure your company is not subject to a WRO or finding of forced labor, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

“Cartier” jewelry seized by CBP totaling $5.2 million.

Counterfeit Cartier goods; source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Ohio seized two shipments containing 500 pieces of counterfeit Cartier jewelry from China and Hong Kong. While the importer did not pay a combined $5.2 million for the 500 pieces, CBP values the shipments seized based on the value of the goods, if authentic.

The two shipments contained mostly bracelets and rings and were destined to an address in Florida and Mississippi.

On August 16, officers inspected the first shipment containing 450 Cartier Love bracelets and rings. The bracelets and rings were mixed in with other jewelry that did not violate Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The shipment was from China and headed to a residence in Aventura, Florida.

When Customs seizes goods suspected of being counterfeit, samples (either photos or actual goods) will be sent to a CBP Centers for Excellence and Expertise, known as a (CEE, pronounced “see”). The CEE will verify with the trademark holders the authenticity of the goods. In general, the trademark holders will never say the goods are authentic.

If you have had your goods seized by customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Counterfeit auto parts seized by CBP.

Seized shipment of counterfeit auto parts; source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers in Philadelphia seized counterfeit Chinese vehicle parts in June consisting of door locks, hinges, powered mirrors, steering wheel switches, headlights and taillights, grills, rear bumpers, and paint kits. As the goods from China were branded with “Mercedes-Benz”, CBP officers suspected the goods may have been counterfeit. CBP Officers confirmed with the trademark holder and seized the goods for being counterfeit. The estimated retail value of the goods, if authentic totals $295,052.

If your shipment of goods from China has been detained or seized for suspicion of being counterfeit, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com 24/7 for immediate assistance.

Wood Packaging Material Dangers – not just pests.

wooden pallets
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I frequently post about pests, larvae or other wood-boring and non wood-boring insections in wood packaging materials (wpm) that cause most of the problems. However, the other unknown danger not frequently reported is another risk of using WPM – the missing IPPC 15 stamp.

IPPC is short for the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) 15 stamps. IPPC stamps are used to certify the wood packaging material has been treated with approved measures prior to shipment. Untreated wpm can result in insects and larvae to burrow into the wood materials prior to shipment and escape the ship or port once the shipment arrives.

In general, an IPPC 15 stamp needs to be visible and meet the approved design standard. The most recent standard is from May 2017 and can be found at the IPPC website here (scroll down to number 15). If you are importer, you must ensure the foreign shipper is in compliance with the IPPC standard if WPM is used. This is often forgotten among first time importers.

In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists in New Orleans found two shipments from Brazil that were not in compliance with the IPPC standard as the stamps were missing. Due to the non-compliance, the shipments were re-exported back to their respective countries, Brazil and Suriname.

While the shipment in May was re-exported, CBP may sometimes allow for manipulation and other remedial measures depending on the situation. Call David Hsu to discuss your options – 832-896-6288. You can also text at the same number.

Failure to meet IPPC 15 standards for WPM is a serious problem and can lead to delays, fines, penalties and a lot of unhappy people who are relying on the timely delivery of your shipment. If you have a WPM issue, or want to be sure you are in compliance with the IPPC 15 standard, call David Hsu by phone or text at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com anytime. Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Importing solar materials? US bans some Chinese solar materials tied to forced labor.

alternative alternative energy clouds eco energy
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Two days ago, the Biden Administration announced a ban on the importation of some solar materials from Xinjiang, the province in China that supplies most of the world’s polysilicon used to make solar panels. The ban is in response to what the White House accuses China of committing genocide and repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities.

Specifically, the ban applies to imports by “Hoshine Silicon Industry Company” and any goods made using those products (sometimes referred to as goods “downmarket”). CBP will ban imports of certain manufacturers if they have “information reasonably indicating” that a manufacturer uses forced labor to produce its goods. The risk to importers is very high and Customs will require the importer of record to provide information proving their goods are not downmarket from Hoshine Silicon or other companies subject to the ban.

Besides Hoshine Silicon Industry Company, other companies subject to the ban include:

  1. Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Company,
  2. Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals Company,
  3. Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Technology Company, and the
  4. Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

If you are unsure what to do, or unsure your products contain the banned materials, contact our office for a free no cost consultation. We also assist companies in the preparation of a Social Compliance Program to meet CTPAT requirements and to help lower your company’s risk of forced labor issues. Contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 for assistance or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Small insect equals big Customs problem.

wooden pallets
Photo by Brent Keane on Pexels.com

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists in California intercepted a shipment of antique terracotta roof tiles from France due to an infestation of wood boring pests. Specifically, CBP found the longhorn beetle known scientifically as the Arhopalus sp. (Cerambycidae). The larvae of the longhorn beetle are known as roundheaded borers and bore into wood, causing extensive damage to the tree and to other untreated wood.

In this seizure, Agriculture Specialists were able to locate the beetles due to fresh “frass”, a powdery sawdust that falls to the ground from the boring activity of the larvae and beetles.

As you are aware, if Customs finds invasive species or other pests, CBP will issue an Emergency Action Notice (EAN) and re-export the goods for fumigation or heat treatment. Afterwards, CBP will issue a civil penalty to the importer.

If you have received an Emergency Action Notice, there may be some alternatives instead of re-exportation. Contact David Hsu by phone/text or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, 832-896-6288 to discuss your options.

$101k in unreported money seized by Customs.

Seized funds from Ethiopian traveler, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers at the Dulles International Airport seized over $101,000 in undeclared, unreported currency. This currency seizure is unique from my usual posts because the traveler had their currency seized when entering the US. The traveler arrived from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and upon entry declared he was in possession of $2,000 in currency. The $2,000 total later because $2,300 prior to CBP officers searching his baggage for a second time. Ultimately, a search by CBP revealed over $100,000 inside a plastic bag. While Customs seized over $101,000 from the traveler – they returned $1,995 for “humanitarian purposes”.

To make matters worse for the traveler, CBP officers determined the traveler from Ethiopia was not eligible to enter the US because he was flagged as a prior Visa Waiver Program violator. In general, a visa waiver program violator is someone who previously entered the US without a visa, and then over stayed the allotted time. The US and certain countries allow citizens of other countries to enter into the US visa free for a period of 60 or 90 days. This privilege is only extended to countries that also allow US citizens to enter their country without a visa. Unfortunately for this traveler, he previously overstayed his visa, and left the US after the visa free period expired – therefore being flagged as a visa waiver program violator.

As the traveler was not eligible to enter into the US, his currency was seized and he was sent on the next flight back to Ethiopia.

Can customs seize money from travelers entering the US?
This instant seizure is a perfect example of a question we frequently receive from our clients – can CBP seize funds from non-US citizens entering the US? And the short answer is yes, any individual crossing the border is required to declare any funds over $10,000 in their possession.

Are you overseas and have had your funds seized by US Customs?
If so, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for immediate assistance. We represent travelers world wide and can help you get your money back.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text anytime day or night at 832-896-6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. Do not rely on any part of this blog as legal advice. Instead, seek out the advice of a licensed attorney. Also, this information may be out-of-date.

$4.2 million in fake jewelry seized.

Image of seized good, source: CBP.gov

According to a CBP media release – officers in Cincinnati seized a shipment in late March containing jewelry with name brands such as Tiffany, Chanel, Rolex, Pandora, Cartier, Dior, Gucci and more. When suspected counterfeit goods are seized, samples and photos of the seized goods are sent to a CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) where the shipment is further evaluated. At the CEE, an import specialist will determine whether the jewelry is real – one method is through verification with the property right holder.

While the declared value on the shipment was $119, the actual value of the seized goods, if authentic would total more than $4.2 million dollars.

I am frequently asked why customs uses the “if authentic” value versus the declared value – since the declared value is likely more accurate to what the seized goods actually cost.

The main reason is Customs will use the “if authentic” value when issuing fines to the importer of record. And perhaps the most obvious reason to only use the “if authentic” value is for impact. A $4.2 million seizure is much more impactful than a $119 seizure of counterfeit goods.

If you or anyone you know has had your goods seized by Customs, contact David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Over $300,000 in unreported currency seized in P.R

Image of seized funds in PR, source: CBP.gov

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Puerto Rico seized $348,940 in undeclared currency hidden inside wooden tables and a sink found inside a 1989 Ford cargo truck. The shipment was destined to an address in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

In general, there is no limit to how much currency (cash, checks, traveler’s checks, foreign currency) can be importer or exported by travelers. However, any amount over $10,000, however federal law requires travelers to report to CBP any amount exceeding $10,000 in US dollars or the equivalent in foreign currency. When the funds over $10,000 are not reported or are under-reported, CBP may seize the currency and may lead to an arrest.

If you have any questions about what to do BEFORE you travel and are carrying over $10,000, give David Hsu a call, or text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.