Mexico and US agree to close border except for trade and workers.

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According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. and Mexico have reached an agreement on closing border traffic between the two nations except to allow for trade and workers and essential traffic. The

Essential traffic includes for medical purposes, attend educational institutions and emergency response workers.

President Trump cited the CDC’s order on need to slow the spread of the Corona virus and to ensure there are enough health-care resources for US citizens. This closure comes a day after Canada and the US agreed to also close their border.

Besides traveling to Mexico or Canada, the State Department on Thursday issued a new travel alert asking Americans to go travel abroad and to return home unless planning to live abroad.

Automation of Electronic Vessel Manifest Confidentiality.

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On March 9, 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that in the upcoming months, CBP will deploy an automated online application process to submit electronic manifest confidentiality requests.

Currently, mail or email requests take our clients about 60-90 days for processing. According to CBP’s announcement, the new electronic filing should be processed as soon as 24 hours.

The new benefit to the online platform for submission is the ability to input all name variations, enabling CBP to match names with names currently found in ACE (Automated Commercial Environment).

Contact experienced customs attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com if you have any questions about manifest confidentiality requests or would like to file one.

ITC publishes final determination of no material injury by imports of Fabricated Structural Steel from China, Canada and Mexico.

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About 30 minutes ago, the Federal Register published the final determination decision by the International Trade Commission finding no material injury by imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, China and Mexico. The Final Determination can be viewed here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-03-20/pdf/2020-05845.pdf

The petitioners have 30 days to file an appeal in court. If no appeal is filed, importers who paid duties may be eligible for a refund after the deadline to appeal expires.

If you want to learn more about getting a refund for your imports of fabricated structural steel from China, Canada or Mexico, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288, or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Second shipment of prohibited coronavirus test kits seized.

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Images of seized test kits, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release on Thursday, CBP officers at O’Hare International Airport, International Mail Facility (IMF) seized packages containing medical drug kits from the United Kingdom. These test kits were to test for viruses and diseases such as meningitis, IVF, MRSA, apple, salmonella and COVID-19.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) prohibits the importation or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce, or the causing thereof, of any food, drug, device, tobacco product, or cosmetic that is adulterated or misbranded.

CBP says coronavirus testing should occur in laboratories and the public should be aware of counterfeit home testing kits sold online.

If you have had your good seized by CBP, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Corona virus related counterfeit seizure?

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Pallets of counterfeit cleaning products, source: CBP.gov

According to a CBP media release, CBP officers working at the Bridge of the Americas in El Paso inspected a large shipment of cleaning supplies from Mexico in early March. Upon inspection, CBP officers noticed the cleaning supplies lacked appropriate safety seals. The officers opened the bottles and noticed products labeled containing bleach did not have a bleach scent. After testing of the other products, CBP found almost all the other cleaners contained only water instead of the contents specified on the label.

According to the media release, the shipment contained Clorox Bleach, Pinol Cleaner, Fabuloso Cleaner, Clorox Cleaner and Adorable brand toilet paper. The entire shipment was seized and pending investigation from Customs. The products were likely tampered with and filled with water instead of any actual cleaning chemicals.

I’ve only been practicing law for about 12 years, but this is the first time I’ve seen a seizure with someone going through a lot of work to counterfeit cleaning products. I suspect the shipment was for sale to those looking to disinfect due to the ongoing corona virus pandemic facing the US.

US investigating Chinese telecom giant ZTE for alleged bribery.

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While the news is dominated by the corona virus coverage, the US is investigating whether ZTE paid bribes to foreign officials to gain advantage in ZTE’s operations. ZTE is one of the largest Chinese telecommunications companies and are believed to be closely related to the Chinese Communist Party.

The bribes include allegations of bribery by ZTE in over 12 countries, including but not limited to Algeria, Liberia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

These new legal issues come right after ZTE plead guilty 3 years ago for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea. In 2017, ZTE plead guilty to violating U.S. sanctions, and resulted in ZTE paying a civil and criminal penalty and forfeiture of assets – a settlement costing ZTE over $1.19 billion dollars. ZTE’s probation ended

ZTE’s US headquarters are based in Richardson Texas with the company’s headquarters located in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

Port Houston closing two terminals due to corona virus.

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An employee working at two Port Houston terminals tested positive for the coronaviorus. The Port of Houston Authority reported an employee working at the Barbours Cut and Bayport container terminals tested positive for COVID-19 and as a result the public terminals are closed with operations temporarily suspended. The Port of Houston Authority owns and operates the Barbours Cut Container Terminal and the Bayport Container Terminal.

The Houston ship channel and the other private terminals are still in operation. The Port Houston is one of the largest container ports in the Gulf of Mexico and handle approximately 70% of the containers moving through the gulf.

Counterfeit designer bags seized from Turkey.

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Image of seized purses, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP officers in Philadelphia seized a shipment of 32 counterfeit designer brand purses from Turkey. If authentic, the handbags would have a retail price of $113,683.

This is the second significant shipment of designer brand handbags that CBP officers recently seized in Philadelphia, following the $317,080 in counterfeit designer brand products officers seized February 24.

According to the media release, CBP suspected the goods were counterfeit because of the poor quality and packaging.

What happens next?
The importer of record in Atlanta will receive a seizure notice (Notice of Seizure). The IOR can then petition for release, refer to court, abandon the goods or offer in compromise.

If you have been suspected of importing counterfeit goods, don’t risk the civil penalty by Customs, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Costco approved as FDA’s first Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) company.

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Costco Wholesale was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the first company in the FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP).

The VQIP is a voluntary fee-based program ($16,681 FY2020) that helps expedite the review and importation of foods into the US. One main requirement is for importers to demonstrate they maintain control over the safety and security of the supply chain. As the supply chain reaches overseas, most food importers such as Costco need to ensure the locations of their foreign suppliers are certified by the FDA’s third-party certification program.

If you are a food importer and want to take advantage of benefits offered by being a VQIP, contact experienced customs and trade law attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Canada approves USMCA trade deal.

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While the US is focused on the Corona Virus (COVID-19), on Friday, Canada formally approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the last nation needed to implement the deal to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The trade deal was ratified by the Mexican legislature last June, the US legislature this past January and formally ratified by Canada on Friday. The Canadian parliament is now shut down for five weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com if you have any questions about how the new USMCA will impact you and your business!