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.

China imposes new tariffs on imports from the United States.

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In response to the U.S. Section 232 tariff measures imposed on steel and aluminum products, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced their intention to impose tariffs on certain products from imported from the United States.

According to an English press release issued by the Ministry of Commerce (full text here), China intends to impose tariffs on 128 products that cover a wide range of items, from food and alcohol to oil and gas pipes.

The tariffs vary from 15% to 25% and a notice of tariffs is available here online for public comment.

A quick look at the list shows these items are subject to the increased tariffs: citrus fruits,
watermelons, dried apples, steel drilled oil and gas drilling pipes with an outside diameter less than 168 mm, cold rolled alloy steel seamless circular cross-section tubes
other fresh or cold pork, frozen pork liver, aluminum scrap, modified ethanol, and American ginseng.

For more information or if you would like to know whether your exported product will be subject to these new duties, contact experienced and bi-lingual English/Chinese Mandarin speaking attorney David Hsu now at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

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Section 232 – Duties do not apply to goods coming from these countries until May 1, 2018.

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Until May 1, 2018, the Section 232 duties do not apply to goods coming from:

• Argentina;

• Australia;

• Brazil;

• Canada;

• Mexico;

• the member countries of the European Union; and

• South Korea.

After that time, the President will review whether to continue exempting these countries from the order.

Furthermore, the most recent customs message also says that admissions into FTZs can only be made with a privileged foreign status, which closes the previous FTZ loophole.

Any Section 232 questions? Call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Cargo Systems Messaging Service – Additional Duties on Imports of Steel and Aluminum under Section 232 – March 22, 2018.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released Cargo Systems Messaging Service Number 18-000240 with additional information regarding the imports of steel and aluminum under Section 232.

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CSMS #18-000240

Title:
Additional Duty on Imports of Steel and Aluminum Articles under Section 232 Date: 3/22/2018 11:39:25 PM To: Automated Broker Interface, ACE Portal Accounts, ACE Reports, Air Manifest, New ACE Programming, Ocean Manifest, Partner Government Agencies, Rail Manifest, Trade Policy Updates, Truck Manifest  Additional Duty on Imports of Steel and Aluminum Articles under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962

BACKGROUND:
On March 8, 2018, the President issued Proclamations 9704 and 9705 on Adjusting Imports of Steel and Aluminum into the United States, under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1862), providing for additional import duties for steel mill and aluminum articles, effective March 23, 2018.  See the Federal Register, 83 FR 11619 and 83 FR 11625, March 15, 2018.  On March 22, 2018, the President issued Proclamations on Adjusting Imports of Steel and Aluminum into the United States.

These duty requirements are effective with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018.

COMMODITY:
Steel mill and aluminum articles, as specified in the Presidential 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).

As of May 1, 2018:  All countries of origin.

Please note this is based on the country of origin, not the country of export.

ENTRY SUMMARY FILING INSTRUCTIONS:
Steel Products In addition to reporting the regular Chapters 72 & 73 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) classification for the imported merchandise, importers shall report the following HTS classification for imported merchandise subject to the additional duty:9903.80.01 (25 percent ad valorem additional duty for steel mill products) Aluminum Products In addition to reporting the regular Chapter 76 of the HTS classification for the imported merchandise, importers shall report the following HTS classification for imported merchandise subject to the additional duty: 9903.85.01 (10 percent ad valorem additional duty for aluminum products)

Importers and filers failing to submit the required Chapter 99 HTS classifications with the entry summary information for imports under the specified Chapter 72, 73, and 76

HTS classifications for the covered countries of origin will receive the following reject messages:

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.

Importers or filers receiving one of the reject messages above, who have researched their classification and dates to confirm the entry summaries were incorrectly rejected, should contact their assigned Client Representative with the results of their review.

Additional Information
Any steel or aluminum article subject to the Section 232 duties that is admitted into U.S. foreign trade zones on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018, must be admitted as “privileged foreign status” as defined in 19 CFR 146.41, and will be subject upon entry for consumption to any ad valorem rates of duty related to the classification under the applicable HTSUS subheading.

Any steel or aluminum article that was admitted into U.S. foreign trade zones under “privileged foreign status” as defined in 19 CFR 146.41, prior to 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018, will likewise be subject upon entry for consumption to any ad valorem rates of duty related to the classification under applicable HTSUS subheadings imposed by the Proclamations.

The merchandise covered by the additional duties may also be subject to antidumping and countervailing duties.

CBP will issue additional guidance on entry requirements for any products excluded from these measures, as soon as information is available.  CBP will also issue updated guidance if there are any changes to these measures, including any changes to exempted countries and any new requirements, such as quota requirements.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:For more information, please refer to the Presidential Proclamations on Adjusting Imports of Steel and Aluminum into the United States, Federal Register, 83 FR 11619 and 83 FR 11625, March 15, 2018; and the March 22, 2018 Presidential Proclamations on Adjusting Imports of Steel and Aluminum into the United States.

Questions related to Section 232 entry filing requirements should be emailed to adcvdissues-hq@cbp.dhs.gov.

Questions from the importing community concerning ACE rejections should be referred to their Client Representative.