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.

Department of the Treasury – List of Countries Requiring Cooperation with an International Boycott.

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According a January 8, 2018 Federal Register notice here, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) published it’s quarterly “List of Countries Requiring Cooperation with International Boycott”. According to the notice, the following countries do require or may require participation in, or cooperation with, an international boycott (within the meaning of section 999(b)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986:

Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (all 9 of these countries have previously been designated as boycotting countries).

The Treasury rules apply to U.S. taxpayers, including but not limited to members of a controlled group, regardless of whether the transaction involves U.S. goods or services. The rules do impose reporting requirements on U.S. taxpapers and their related companies. If taxpayers have coopreated with an unsanctioned boycott, they are denied certain tax benefits as a peanlty. U.S. taxpapers must report anything related to boycotting countries by filing IRS Form 5713 and attaching to the taxpayer’s federal tax return.

If your company does business overseas, it is important to be aware of reporting found instances of boycott laws and regulations and ensure your company is in compliance with all of the rules. We find our clients sometimes overlook the boycott issue, unfortunately Customs will not, and failure to comply with boycott rules may result in significant penalties.

If you have any questions regarding boycotts, contact 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.

USITC Votes to Continue Investigations on Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet from China.

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According to News Release 18-008 from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) website (found here), the USITC voted to continue investigations on common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The USITC typically continues investigations if they believe there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured due to imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The “material injury” results because the USITC believes the manufacturing of aluminum sheet is being subsidized and sold in the US at a cost lower than “fair value”.

A continuation of an investigation means the US Department of Commerce (Commerce) will continue antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. The due date for the preliminary countervailing duty determination is due February 1, 2018. The antidumping duy determination is due on April 17, 2018.

The investigation of common alloy aluminum sheet from China can be found in Investigation Numbers 701-TA-591 and 731-TA-1399, publication number 4757, dated January 2018.

If you have any questions about these orders, or want to know if any of the products you import may be subject to dumping, please feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Givens & Johnston Secures Favorable Scope Ruling Regarding Pipe Spools.

Pipe Spools

Givens & Johnston PLLC recently secured a scope ruling excluding certain pipe spools manufactured in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from Chinese anti-dumping duties (ADD) and countervailing duties (CVD). The exclusion covers pipe spools fabricated from non-Chinese originating pipe and pipe fittings (e.g. Japanese, Korean, U.S., etc.). In 2016, the ITA and Customs determined that all pipe spools fabricated in PRC were within the scope of the ADD & CVD orders applicable to Chinese pipe and pipe fittings as part of the ITA’s Westlake scope ruling decision.

In the Westlake case, the ITA declined to apply a substantial transformation analysis to the fabrication of pipe spools. Instead, the ITA used a mixed media analysis that looked at the components individually rather than as part of a whole. In Westlake, the ITA held that the pipe and pipe fittings fabricated into a pipe spool continue to have the same characteristics of pipe, so the ITA continued to treat them as pipe for ADD & CVD purposes. More recently, the ITA used the same method of analysis, except determined that because the non-Chinese origin pipe spool components were not subject to Chinese ADD & CVD, the fabrication into pipe spools did not change this result.

The full text of the scope ruling can be found here.

This ruling is crucial to companies who fabricate goods in the PRC from non-Chinese originating components and to any importers interested in importing pipe spools that are not subject to Chinese ADD & CVD. If you have any questions regarding how this ruling may affect you or your business, please give Givens & Johnston a call:

950 Echo Lane, Suite 360
Houston, Texas 77024
Phone: (713) 932-1540
Fax: (713) 932-1542

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.

Potential Expansion of ADD/CVD Orders for Seamless Pipe from China to Include Pipe Rack Modules.

Seamless Pipe

On April 6, 2017, the ITA posted a scope ruling request filed by United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union (“USW”) attempting to extend the existing ADD & CVD cases against seamless pipe from China to include pipe rack modules. The 2016 Westlake scope ruling extended existing ADD & CVD cases against various types of pipe from China to include pipe spools, and the new request cites to Westlake extensively. If this case is successful, CBP will most likely apply it to more than just modules fabricated seamless pipe from China but to any pipe subject to an ADD or CVD case.

Givens & Johnston is currently pursuing multiple scope rulings clarifying Westlake pipe spool rulings and can provide immediate consultations about how importers and producers might respond.

Now is the time to get involved! Importers and producers can more easily impact or derail the scope rulings before a bad ruling is issued.

Please call David Hsu (713.932.1540) if you have any questions or would like more information.