US-Bahrain Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Trade in Food and Agriculture Products.

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Flag of Bahrain (credit Wikipedia)

According to a press release posted on Monday, April 9th – the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that the United States and Bahrain have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Trade in Food and Agriculture Products. One highlight of the MOU is the increase in certainty and enhanced cooperation on requirements for U.S. exports of food and agriculture products to Bahrain, and enables more opportunities for the United States and Bahrain to continue joint efforts to facilitate bilateral trade in food and agriculture products.

The MOU also says indicated that Bahrain will continue to accept existing U.S. export certifications for food and agricultural products. Accepting current export certifications will save U.S. exporters the cost of new certifications. The MOU also discussed increasing the export of food and agricultural products from the United States to Bahrain.

A full copy of the US-Bahrain MOU can be found here.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Seize Over 6 Million Counterfeit Cigarettes.

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In mid March of 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) commercial fraud agents seized six million counterfeit cigarettes during a warehouse inspection.

The estimated retail price is $1.1 million. CBP import specialists with the Agriculture and Prepared Products Center of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) in Miami reviewed 600 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes and found multiple trade name protection and trafficking counterfeit goods violations.

CBP cites many dangers to these counterfeit cigarettes – first criminal organizations profit from the sale of counterfeit goods and second, counterfeit cigarettes pose a greater public health risk. CBP also indicates that trademark owners are also hurt and the government also is deprived of tax revenue.

If you or someone you know has had counterfeit cigarettes or any other goods seized by Customs for suspected IP violations or trademark violations – contact experienced Customs attorney David Hsu. Customs holds importers liable for both civil penalties and criminal prosecution. Call 832-896-6288 or e-mail dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.

Final version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal released.

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According to February 20th Reuters article, the remaining 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have finalized the trade pact set to be signed in Chile on March 8th. After signing, the trade deal provisions will take effect at the end of 2018 or the first half of 2019.

Reports indicate the final version removes or changed 20 provisions regarding intellectual property that were originally included by the United States. Also known as “TPP-11”, the remaining parties believe the trade pact will benefit all members economically across all job sectors. The 11 member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Check back here for more updates. If you have any trade or customs law questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

CBP seizes ancient artifacts for repatriation.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers at Miami International Airport (MIA) seized two shipments containing suspected ancient artifacts.

The first shipment from the United Kingdom was a wooden cargo container with a manifest indicating a value of $252,000. When CBP opened the container they found a helmet appearing to be an ancient artifact. An expert appraiser determined the helmet to be an authentic “Corinthian Helmet” dating back to 100-500 B.C.

The second seizure was from El Salvador containing 13 artifacts of Mayan origin.

While not frequently mentioned in the press, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their country of origin. CBP works with ICE to ensure the repatriation rules are followed.

If you or someone you know has had artifacts seized, call experienced customs seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com for a free consultation.

Customs posts Interim ACE Drawback Guidance online.

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On February 5, 2018, Customs posted the draft version of the new “Drawback: Interim Guidance for Filing TFTEA Drawback Claims”.

Starting February 24, 2018, filing drawback claims can be done electronically within the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The interim rules published on the Customs website here will be effective during the “interim period”, starting February 24, 2018 until February 23, 2019.

For the next one year period ending February 23, 2019, drawback claims can still be filed (1) manually, (2) Core-ACE or (3) TFTEA-Drawback.

However, after February 24, 2019, all TFTEA-Drawback claims must be filed electronically in ACE.

If you have any drawback questions or questions about how to file claims during the interim period, contact experienced customs attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at 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.

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 dhsu@givensjohnston.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

Want to expand your export business?

Export Law

 

The Houston District Export Council is hosting their “Export University” on April 28, 2016.

Export University is a series of courses on international trade topics organized by the District Export Council (DEC). The DEC is a volunteer, non-profit organization associated with the U.S. Department of Commerce. The purpose of the Export University is to improve the ability of U.S. businesses to compete in the ever growing global marketplace.

More information and registration can be found at the Houston DEC website: here.