CBP seizes $10 million in counterfeit luxury watches.

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This past Thursday (June 28th), Philadelphia U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers seized 699 luxury watches with a MSRP of nearly $10 million (if authentic).

The shipment was from Hong Kong, China and labeled as “lithium batteries”. Upon inspection, CBP officers found watches bearing luxury watch names such as: Tous, Hublot, Piguet, Panerai, and Fossil among others.

CBP probably questioned the shipment as luxury watches that are authentic are usually not sent from Hong Kong. In the media release, CBP officers also claimed the watch quality and packaging was poor – a typical dead give away for counterfeit goods.

If you have had any good seized by CBP on suspicion of being counterfeit, there are things we can do – call David Hsu, experienced trade and customs attorney for a free consultation and the next steps: 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Customs agent charged with falsifying ship inspection records.

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According to the Virginian-Pilot, a former U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agricultural specialist agent was charged with falsifying ship inspection forms on three separate occasions since 2015.

A CBP agricultural specialist is tasked with checking containers and trucks for agricultural or packaging materials that might contain invasive pests and also check wood packaging materials for larvae or inspects that could impact the native trees and nursery. In short, an agricultural specialist will make sure wood packaging materials, fruits and vegetables arrive into the US pest-free.

According to an indictment filed in the case, former-agent, Carl James Jr. falsified ship inspection forms on two ships: the CMA CGM Dalila and the OOCL Chongqing and one bulk carrier ship – the Pontovremon.

James’ set to appear in court on July 13th.

If you or anyone you know has had their shipment detained due to pests or invasive species found in wood packaging materials, or you have received an Emergency Action Notice (EAN) from Customs or you have had a seizure due to a failed agricultural inspection – contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Philadelpha CBP seize 100 counterfeit Yeti mugs.

Yeti Screengrab

Screengrab of the Yeti.com website.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release on June 19th, CBP officers in Philadelphia seized 100 counterfeit mugs branded with the name of the poular cooler company Yeti.

The items were shipped from Hong Kong, China in April and labeled “fishing reel iron products”. CBP noted the “poor packaging” and “substandard quality” and detained the shipment.

After a shipment is detained, Customs will usually send a sample or photos to the trademark/word mark holder to verify authenticity of the mark. In this case, Yeti likely replied and told CBP the items were counterfeit.

In the event the trademark holder notifies CBP of the unauthorized use of a registered mark, CBP will seize the items and send a “Notice of Seizure” to the importer of record.

Philadelphia CBP has been busy with five counterfeit seizures in the past 3 months. Prior seizures included counterfeit jewelry and luxury watches.

If you have had your shipments seized by Customs, and you receive a “Notice of Seizure”, you should take action – call experienced seizure attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by  email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. CBP seizures do not just go away and you may expose yourself and your company to personal, criminal and civil liability – call today!

 

 

 

 

White House imposes tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods.

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As expected, the administration announced Section 301 tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese goods with two purposes: (1) balance the trade relationship between the US and China and (2) prevent the transfer of American technology and intellectual property to China when US businesses operate in China.

After the announcement this morning, China responded by issuing their own tariffs on 659 types of goods from the US starting on July 6th. When announcing the initial $50 billion in tariffs, Trump also indicated any Chinese retalation will also be met with additional US tariffs.

Cliff Notes version of today’s developments:

  1. 2/3rds of the US duties on 1,102 types of goods begins July 6th.
  2. The goods announced on Friday will apply later after a review period ends.
  3. The US imposed these tariffs to limit the transfer of technology to China.
  4. Some lawmakers say these tariffs will only impact the average American due to higher prices.
  5. The first list of goods subject to tariffs can be found here.
  6. The second list of goods subject to tariffs can be found here:

Whether or not these announcements are posturing on both sides, check back for more details.

If you have any questions on how these new tariffs will impact your import or export business, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Importer pays $500,000 fine for false claims to evade customs duties.

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Earlier in February of this year, the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs released news of a settlement by Home Furnishings Resource Group Inc. agreement to pay $500,000 in settlement for False Claims Act allegations.

Background:
Home Furnishings Resource Group Inc. (HFRG) agreed to pay the $500,000 after they were alleged to have violated the False Claims Act on customs declarations in order to avoid paying antidumping duties (ADD) on “wooden bedroom furniture” imported from China.

Customs alleged the Hermitage, Tennessee company did not pay antidumping duties from 2009 to 2014 by misclassifying furniture as “non-bedroom” on import documents. By misclassifying as “non-bedroom”, HFRG did not pay the required ADD on wooden-bedroom furniture.

Why do we have antidumping duties?
Antidumping duties protect American manufacturers against foreign companies who make the same goods at a price below cost and “dump” the products into the US. The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is responsible for assessing whether goods are dumped into the US – and if so, assign an ADD amount to those imported goods.

The addition of a duty for these goods is to protect U.S. businesses and “level the playing field for domestic companies”.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) then collects these duties – wooden bedroom furntiure’s ADD rate was 216% and non-bedroom furniture was not subject to any duty.

How was HFRG caught?
University Loft Company, a competitor of HFRG, used the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, permitting private parties to sue on behalf of the US against those who falsely claim federal funds or, as in this case, who avoid paying funds owed to the government. The act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered. University Loft Company will receive approximately $75,000.

Do you know anyone violating the False Claims Act?
If you believe an importer has been misclassifying goods to avoid payment of duties, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Cash seizures by CBP during busy Memorial Day and tips on what you need to do if you have had your cash seized.

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CBP media release noted multiple drug arrests over the Memorial Day weekend at the Buffalo area (Peace Bridge and Lewiston Ports of Entry). Most of the incidents involved travelers with illegal substances and arrests on several US travelers for outstanding warrants.

Lastly, CBP seized $20,000 in currency from a Canadian citizen for failure to report currency over $10,000.

The media release indicates CBP seized the currency and “the traveler was refused entry into the United States”.

What? At least let the guy in –

If you are ever traveling and have your currency seized, be sure to do the following:

  1. Give Customs and Border Protection your real address. They will send you a certified letter.
  2. Cooperate with Customs officials.
  3. Disclose all the money you have up front.
  4. You will be asked to sign a FinCen form, sign it only after you write down all the money you really have.

Here are some other tips:

  1. CBP will seize all currency, doesn’t matter if it is in US dollars or in currency of another country.
  2. Money orders, checks also count, it is not just cash that is counted.
  3. It doesn’t matter if you are leaving or entering the country – you have to declare the currency anytime you ENTER or LEAVE the US.
  4. Check your mail within 1-2 weeks of your currency seizure.
  5. Do not ignore the letter you will receive from Customs.
  6. Call experienced Currency Seizure attorney David Hsu immediately at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Trump administration considering new tariffs on imported vehicles.

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Reuters reports the Trump administration may consider imposing new tariffs on imported vehicles based under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

A little bit of background – a section 232 investigation is conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended and the purpose of a 232 investigation is to determine the effect of imports on the national security. Investigations may be initiated based on an application from an interested party, a request from the head of any department or agency, or may be self-initiated by the Secretary of Commerce.

Reuters reports the administration is currently considering tariffs of up to 25 percent for imported vehicles. As this was just announced, the plan is still not yet implemented and will receive much feedback from interest groups, foreign trading partners, domestic dealers of importer cars and anyone else involved in the import car business.

Check back for the latest news. If you have any questions about the current steel and aluminum tariffs initiated under section 232, contact experienced trade attorney – David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes prohibited ivory products in Seattle.

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CBP agriculture specialists at Sea-Tac
found ivory in the luggage of a couple
arriving from the Philippines on May 11. Photo Credit: CBP

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release dated May 22nd, Agriculture Specialists at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport discovered a variety of prohibited ivory products (carved tusks) in the luggage of a husband and wife who arrived on a flight from the Philippines on May 11.

An x-ray and search of the traveler’s belongings revealed 34 pieces of carved elephant ivory, two carved hippopotamus tusks and two carved warthog tusks. The agriculture specialists contacted inspectors from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who inspected and seized the items. The couple also received a $500 fine for transporting the items in violation of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

If you or anyone you know has had a CBP seizure, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Court of International Trade sides with Canadian textile importer and dismisses Customs $4.5 million penalty claim.

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In a just released decision by the the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT), the CIT dismissed U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) efforts to collect $4.5 million in penalties against Tricots Liesse 1983, Inc. (Tricots), a Candian textile company importing goods into the US. The full text of the CIT Slip Op. 18-29 can be found here.

In the instant case, Tricots tried to correct NAFTA rules of origin claims by filing a prior disclosure with CBP. CBP issued an administrative penalty and duty demand while not providing Tricots an opporutnity for oral hearings during the administrative proceedings. CBP then filed suit against Tricots in the CIT to collect $4.5 MM in penalties and duties. In response, Tricots filed a motion to dismiss the claims because CBP did not allow Tricots the opportunity to attempt administrative remedies.

In short, the CIT opinion faults CBP for not allowing Tricots a “reasonable opportunity” to make oral representations after issuing the penalty notice. This decision helps future importers by ensuring any importer has the opportunity to receive an administrative hearing before CBP imposes a penalty.

If you have received a penalty notice from Customs and need assistance, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

US proposes tariffs impacting $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

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The current administration announced tariffs on an additional 1,300 technological and transport products from China. Imports of these 1,300 goods are worth an an estimated $50 billion and could be subject to an additional 25-percent tariff.

The list posted on US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office covers nonconsumer products, ranging from chemicals to electronic components and excludes some common consumer products such as cellphones and laptops assembled in China. However, the list also includes consumer products such as flat-panel televisions, LED’s, motorcycles and electric cars.

Part of the justification for tariffs is an effort by the administration to cut the trade surplus – in which China has a $375 biillion trade surplus on goods from the US in 2017. Throughout his campaign, President Trump promised reducing the trade surplus by $100 billion during his presidency.

After the proposals were announced, the USTR has a public comment period from now until May 11th. A hearing will follow on May 15th. During this comment period, companies and consumers will be able to ask the government to remove or add certain products to the list.

If you have any question about these potential tariffs or want to know more about how to get your good off the list, contact trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.