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.

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.

Customs and Border Protection’s 2018 E-Commerce Strategy.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release on March 8th, 2018 – CBP released their new strategy to deal with the increase in volume of e-commerce packages into the United States.

The media release is wordy and you are already to go back to Facebook – so here’s a quick cliff notes version of the media release:

1. More people are using the internet to buy direct from China, leading to more small packages entering the US.

2. The large increase in volume of small packages (commonly indicated as “e-packet delivery”) means there is a greater likelihood of things entering the country that should not enter.

3. CBP is worried about a greater entry of items that violate intellectual property rights (fake watches, counterfeit purfume, fake iphones, etc) will make it into the US.

Some highlights of the CBP e-commerce strategy:

1. Educate people to be aware of customs regulations. Not sure how easy it will be to make people aware of customs regulations when people can’t even follow traffic regulations!

2. Partnership with foreign governments

3. Improve data collection from CBP targeting systems and field personnel.

4. The media release includes a lot of buzzwords: “more agile, dynamic workforce that utilizes state-of-art techniques and technology to better target high-risk shipments, improving data collection from CBP targeting systems, and leveraging enforcement partnerships.”

My thoughts:

Personally, I do not believe methods 1-4 will be able to adequately address the increased flow of these small packages from China. I believe CBP has other methods that they are not publicizing, and rightly so. Notifying the public how CBP searches for items that violate IPR, are counterfeit or not allowed for entry into the US would be counter-intuitive and could only lead to foreign manufacturers creating work arounds.

If you are a manufacturer overseas and ship many small package items to the US and want to know how this can effect your business, call experienced trade and customs attorney, David Hsu, 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com

Record Number of Intellectual Property Rights Seizures by Customs in 2017.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) released a report indicating they seized a record number of 34,143 shipments of goods that violated Intellectual Property Rights (“IPR”) in 2017. In comparison, 2016 saw about 30,000 shipments seized for counterfeit and pirated products. The total estimated MSRP of the seized goods in 2017 total approximately $1.2 billion.

Other interesting facts in the report:

-90% of the seized counterfeit and pirated goods in 2017 were in express carrier and international mail environments as opposed to containerized shipments.

-15% of the IPR seizures were related to wearing apparel

-48% of the IPR violation seizures were from China (16,538)

-39% of the IPR violation seizures were from Hong Kong

We can expect CBP and ICE to only increase their number of seizures for 2018 as CBP continues with their “The Truth Behind Counterfeits campaign” along with increased awareness of the CBP hotlines to report suspected fraud or illegal trade activity (1-800-BE-ALERT).

If you or anyone you know has had CBP or ICE detain your shipments, or if you received notice from DHL of a Customs seizure – call experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Many importers do not contest the seizure because they feel the value of the shipment doesn’t justify speaking to an attorney – but CBP can and will issue civil penalties after the seizure, call today!

 

CBP Officers and Agriculture Specialists Ensure Valentine’s Day Bouquets are Free from Pests and Disease.

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With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it is important to remember that certain flowers, flower arrangements and potted plants are prohibited from entering the US.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and their agriculture specialists are busy at US ports making sure flowers from travelers are free from pests, diseases and insects that may cause harm to US agricultural and floral industries.

Travelers from Mexico commonly carry two prohibited items found in flower arrangements – chrysanthemums and orange jasmine. CBP is trying to prevent “chrysanthemum white rest”, pests, and other diseases from entering through bouquet arrangements.

With the current restrictions, CBP is trying to prevent funguses, such as “Chrysanthemum White Rust” from entering the U.S. Additionally, some cut greenery, which are the plants used to fill a bouquet, may have pests or diseases. For example, Murraya (common name “orange jasmine”) is a host for Asian citrus psyllid, a dangerous pest of citrus. If any portion of a bouquet has pests, the entire bouquet will be confiscated.

Customs advises travelers to declare all bouquets, flowers, and plants in order to avoid possible penalties. If you are currently facing CBP penalties after an agriculture specialist inspected your flowers or plants, contact David Hsu immediately at 832-896-6288 or by email at 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 and the CPSC Seize Children’s “Activity Cubes” due to Potential Choking Hazard.

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Above photo is a screengrab from the Customs website showing the seized children’s mini activity cubes.

As the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) functions as the USA’s border security agency – CBP enforces hundreds of laws from different agencies. For example, CBP may seize imported automotive parts that violate Department of Transportation regulations or CBP may seize counterfeit and tainted foods products that violate Food and Drug Administration rules.

On January 15th, CBP officers in Baltimore examined a shipment of toys valued at $5,600 from Hong Kong and submitted samples of the toys to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). CBP officers initially sent this sample to the CPSC because the toys appeared to contain potential choking hazards.

CPSC subsequently tested the activity cubes and determined the toys violated the small parts requirement of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act [15 USC §1263]. A copy of the FHSA can be found at this link: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/fhsa.pdf

Unfortunately for this importer, they won’t be able to get their goods and may face further penalties from Customs. If you have had your imports seized by Customs due to DOT, CPSC, FDA or any of the other alphabet soup of government agency regulations, please call David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com, free consultations.

As of 2/24/2018 – ACE will be the only authorized electronic data interchange system for processing drawback filings.

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According to a notice posted on the Federal Register, starting February 24, 2018, the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) will be the sole electronic data interchange (EDI) system authorized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for processing electronic drawback filings under NAFTA and non-TFTEA drawback.

After February 24, 2018, Automated Commercial System (ACS) will no longer be a CBP-authorized EDI for drawback filings.

The full notice can be found here:

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/18/2018-00803/automated-commercial-environment-ace-becoming-the-sole-cbp-authorized-electronic-data-interchange

If you have any questions regarding drawback or this Federal Register notice, please do not hesitate to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) issues their 2017 Out-of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets.

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On January 11, 2018, the USTR released their report on “notorious markets”. As the name suggests, the USTR issues annual reviews of cities, places or shopping areas (both physical and online) that are believed to be involved in large commercial-scale copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. In addition to financial losses, the USTR says copyright piracy and counterfeit goods undermine advantages to innovation, creativity of US workers while also posing risks to consumer health and safety.

The notorious market list (NML) maintained by the USTR highlights physical and online marketplaces that “reportedly engage in, facilitate, turn a blind eye to, or benefit from substantial piracy and counterfeiting”. The list includes 18 physical markets and over 20 online marketplaces. The USTR does note that the NML list does not make findings of legal violations nor reflects the US analysis of the IP protection and enforcement climate in the countries in which the listed markets are found.

The report focus this year is on “illicit streaming devices” that includes streaming, on-demand, and over-the-top media service providers or other piracy applications that allow users to stream content, download or otherwise access information. Such streaming devices include Amazon fire TV sticks that are “jailbroken” or have the “Kodi” application installed. Other lesser known manufacturers also sell and market such stream devices using keywords such as: mini tv, tv box, stream, kodi, internet media player, tv browser, android tv, or variations thereof. The USTR estimates pirated content viewed on these streaming devices cost up to $840 million in lost revenue in the US and over $4-5 billion a year to the entertainment industry.

The USTR report spends the remaining 35 pages of the report highlighting various websites and physical brick-and-morter markets worldwide that may contribute to the sale and distribution of counterfeit and intellectual property infringing products.

If you have had your imported goods seized by Customs due to suspected intellectual property and trademark violations, call David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com. Certain time limitations do apply and you need legal representation.