“Ignorantia juris non excusat” and the need for export compliance in the wake of the Huawei ban.

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Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

Huawei’s surprise placement on the BIS Entity List highlights the crucial need for your company to have a compliance program in place.

Many people believe export compliance programs only apply to the big guys – however, even the smallest business that sends their products to customers outside of the country are subject to the various export regulations and the steep penalties for export violations. as the saying goes, Ignorantia juris non excusat or ignorantia legis neminem excusat (Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses not” and “ignorance of law excuses no one” respectively).

Small and medium sized company personnel may not know of these requirements until it is too late – fines for export violations can reach up to $1 million per violation in criminal cases and administrative cases can result in penalties amount to the greater of $250,000 or twice the value of the transaction. Criminal violators may even face up to 20 years in jail time and punishment for administrative cases can include denial of export privileges – it’s a risk you can’t afford to take.

Here are a few quick tips to protect your company –

  1. Be sure your exported items do not require an export license.
  2. Determine if the destination country requires an export license.
  3. Know your customers – screen who is buying your goods and be sure a restricted party does not receive your goods.
  4. Red flags – does the destination country of your product meet a need for your product?
  5. Be sure you have a copy of all the required documentation – it is not enough to hire a freight forwarder to handle the export.

For more information and a no obligation consultation on creating an export compliance program – contact experienced compliance attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dh@gjatradelaw.com or attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

General Tips for New Importers.

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Photo by Frans Van Heerden on Pexels.com

Importing anything into the US is a trap for the unweary and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP or “Customs”) does not accept “I didn’t know that” as a valid excuse. CBP requires all importers and exporters to be aware of the law before they import or export and as the old saying goes, “ignorance of the law is not an excuse”.

Here are a few tips –
1. You do not need an “import license” to import into the US.
2. You may need a license, certification or permit from other Federal agencies depending on what you want to import.
3. You need an Importer of Record number, typically your IRS business registration number.
4. If you don’t have an IRS business number, you can apply for a number from CBP through Form 5106 (after the shutdown).
5. Consult the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to see how your merchandise will be classified when entering the US.
6. You can get a ruling prior to an importation of merchandise through CBP to ensure proper classifcation and rate of duty.
7. Seek out the assistance of a Customs Broker licensed by CBP. You can find a list of Customs Brokers at your port through the CBP.gov website.

The seven tips above are just the tip of the iceberg of what CBP will require an importer to know. Feel free to give us a call before you begin importing – we’re here to help. Call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

Givens and Johnston, PLLC at Breakbulk Americas 2018.

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Earlier this week, Givens and Johnston, PLLC attorneys – James Garland Hurst and David Hsu staffed the G&J booth at Breakbulk Americas 2018.

James and David were on hand to answer questions related to wood packaging materials and cost-effective solutions to deal with a “wood packaging material” notice from Customs. As you are aware, Customs vigorously inspects wood packaging material shipments entering the US for presence of invasive pests that damage the US ecosystem.

James and David also answered questions regarding ftz’s, bonded warehouses, import and export, compliance matters, Section 232 and 301 duties and the whole range related trade matters.

See you at Breakbulk Americas 2019! In the meantime, feel free to contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com for all your import, export and trade matters.

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APHIS Recognizes Mexico as Free of Classical Swine Fever.

pig-alp-rona-furna-sow-63285.jpegClassical swine fever (CSF or sometimes referred to as hog cholera/swine fever/European swine fever) is a highly contagious viral disease of pigs. CSF used to be widespread but many countries had eradicated the disease until it was reintroduced in 1997-199 (CSF was eradicated in the US in the 1970’s). A 1997 outbreak of CSF in the Netherlands involved more than 400 herds and cost $2.3 billion dollars to eradicate with some 12 million pigs killed.

While eradicated in North America, the US is also not immune to the risk as CSF is still endemic in South and Central America. Because of this, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) previously classified imports of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products from Mexico as risky following a 2015 site review.

However, at the request of Mexico’s government, the USDA APHIS has now determined that the risk of CSF through Mexican imports of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products is very low. As such, these items can now be saefly imported into the US as long as the imports follow APHIS’ import regulations.

Importations of live swine, swine genetics, pork and pork products must (1) be accompanied by a certificate issued by a Mexican government veterinary officer, (2) must come from swine raised and slaughtered in regions APHIS considers CSF free.

If your company would like more information regarding importation of swine and swine products or other general USDA APHIS concerns, please do not hesitate to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.

 

What is the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act?

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Short Answer: The Global Magnitsky Act is a US effort to stop human rights abuses and corrupt actors by allowing President Trump to impose sanctions against parties involved in human rights violations and corruption around the world.

This Act sounds familiar, how is it different from the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (“Magnitsky Act”)? The Magnitsky Act was only targeting human rights abusers in Russia. The Global Magnitsky Act applies to human rights abusers and corrupt actors globally.

Long Answer: President Trump signed Executive Order 13818 titled “Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuses or Corruption” on December 20, 2017 implementing the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (“Global Magnitsky Act”).

The passage of the Global Magnitsky Act authorizes President Trump to impose sanctions on individuals, governments or other entities who commit human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, torture, gross violations of human rights. Additionally, this act also applies to parties who are involved in significant corruption such as expropriation of assets for personal gain, corruption in government contracts, bribery or other acts of corruption.

In late December, OFAC also designated 52 new parties as SDN’s as part of the Global Magnitsky Act and the Executive Order. If you are in trade compliance, be sure to check out the new OFAC designated parties as the updated list includes parties from the following countries: The Gambia, South Sudan, Russia, Nicaragua, China, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.

These designations are the first under the Global Magnitsky Act and won’t be the last.

Click the below link for the U.S. Department of Treasury sanction list and other OFAC information:

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/Pages/default.aspx

If you have any questions about compliance with the new or old Magnitsky Act, OFAC, SDN or blocked persons or any general trade compliance matters, call 832.896.6288 or e-mail attorney.dave@yahoo.com

2018 Houston BIS Export Compliance Event – Register Now.

hall-congress-architecture-building-159213.jpegSave the date if you are in Houston and want to learn more about BIS export compliance.

The first two-day program session will be led by BIS staff and provide in depth information regarding Export Administration Regulations (EAR). Covered topics include EAR, how to determine export control classification numbers (ECCN); when to reexport without applying for a license, Export Management Compliance Program (EMCP) and more!

Additionally, session 2 on day three covers technology controls, specifically how to comply with U.S. export and reexport controls related to technology and software. Topics include export or reexport of technology, kinds of tech and software subject to EAR, license exceptions and more!

The 3-day seminar will be held at the Norris Conference Center in City Centre Houston near Beltway 8 and I-10 West.

For more details, click the link below:

http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=qg6pm6iab&oeidk=a07eeqlbbsq77507f3b

Why do some overseas suppliers request my social security number, EIN, importer or IRS number?

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If you import goods into the US, you may have received an e-mail from a supplier asking for you to provide your SSN, EIN, importer or IRS number.

Before I answer the question, let’s go back to the beginning of the import process. Any goods entering the US from overseas will be considered an importation. All importations must be “cleared” by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

As the importer in the US, CBP considers you (whether individually, or your company) as the ultimate importer. You as the ultimate importer can clear the goods or have a Customs Broker (Broker) clear them for you.

Formal entry of goods requires the Broker to write down your identification number on CBP Form 7501 (Entry Summary). This identification number is either your EIN/tax identification number or a number assigned by the IRS or your social security number.

On the other hand, goods can also be cleared informally (usually less than $2,500 in value) and not in “commercial quantities”.

As most foreign suppliers are now aware that CBP requires an ID number, they will often ask for you (the purchaser’s) SSN to include on the export documents.

If you have any import questions, feel free to give us a call, 832.896.6288 or email us at attorney.dave@yahoo.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

FinCEN Form 105 FAQ

Currency Seizure

We get a lot of inquiries from travelers who were requested by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to complete and sign the FinCEN Form 105, so we thought it would be helpful to post a short Frequently Asked Questions page about Form 105. Please note the information can change at anytime so it’s best to always check the official Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website.

What is FinCEN Form 105?
FinCEN Form 105 is a form you must complete to report that you are carrying more than $10,000 in currency while entering or leaving the US.

What is considered currency?
The FINCEN definition of currency: The coin and paper money of the United States or any other country that is (1) designated as legal tender and that (2) circulates and (3) is customarily accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance.

Do I only report coin and paper money?
CBP says all travelers are required to report “negotiable monetary instruments” which includes currency or endorsed checks valued more than $10,000.

What are “negotiable instruments”?
-Coin or currency from US or other countries;
-Gold coins (excludes gold bullion);
-Travelers checks;
-Checks;
-Promissory notes;
-Money orders;
-Checks or money orders made out to someone else;
-Checks or money orders endorsed without restriction (for deposit only);
-Incomplete checks that are signed even if the “To” line is blank
-Securities or stocks in bearer form

What if I fail to declare currency in amounts more than $10,000?
Customs will seize the currency. The seizure process at the airport takes time and you will be delayed and/or miss a connecting flight.

I’m a foreign visitor to the US, do I still have to fill out a FinCEN Form 105?
Yes, anyone entering or leaving the US is required to report their currency.

What if I have a layover in the US on my way to another country, do I still have to fill out a FinCEN Form 105?
Yes, a layover in-transit to a foreign country at a US airport is still considered entering the US.

If I report the currency, is there a duty on the amount I report?
No, CBP does not collect duty on any currency.

What does the form look like?
The most recent version of Form 105 (July 2017) can be found here:
https://www.fincen.gov/sites/default/files/shared/fin105_cmir.pdf

Is the form available in other languages?
Unfortunately the form is only available in English. If you need the FinCEN form translated in Chinese, I can help out.

My currency was seized, what should I do?
Contact me soon as there are time requirements on getting your seized currency returned to you.

I have more questions, can I contact you?
Feel free to email me at attorney.dave@yahoo.com or 832.896.6288.

 

US Department of Commerce Self-Initiates ADD/CVD Investigation on Alloy Aluminum Sheet from China.

Aluminum Antidumping

According to a press release issued by the US Department of Commerce on November 28, 2017; the Commerce Department has self-initiated an ADD/CVD investigation of imports of alloy aluminum sheet from China. This action is noteworthy as most ADD/CVD investigations are brought forward by US manufacturers – with the last self-initiated ADD investigation occurring in 1985 on semiconductors from Japan.

The merchandise subject to investigation is common alloy aluminum sheet that is flat-rolled having a thickness of 6.3 mm or less but greater than 0.2 mm, in coils or cut-to-length, regardless of width. Alloy aluminum sheet is usually used in business, construction, transportation, appliances etc.

While the initiation of the case is unique, the investigation itself will follow any other trade remedy investigation. Look for a preliminary decision on or before January 16, 2018.

January 2018 may see potential tariffs on all solar panel imports to the US.

Solar Panels

President Trump campaigned with a tough on trade message and it appears January 2018 may be the first of many actions taken by the current administration.

The potential tariffs involve the importation of solar panels from around the world. Currenly, manufacturers in China account for almost two-thirds of all solar panel production worldwide and in the last 10 years, China’s manufacturers have lowered the global prices of solar panels by 90 percent. While Chinese manufacturers argue the lower solar panel prices benefit the environment, American producers successfully argued for the US to impose tariffs for Chinese solar panels “dumped” into the United States.

These tariffs have resulted in Chinese manufacturers shifting the manufacturing of solar panels to Southeast Asia to avoid paying anti-dumping duties to the US. In response, American producers have now asked the Department of Commerce to implement tariffs on all solar panel imports to the US regardless of country of origin. With a fast approaching deadline of January 26th, we will see whether the Trump administration upholds their tough on trade message.