US Trade Commission reverses decision, finds the US tire market IS being harmed by truck and bus imports from China.

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Summary of what happened:
On January 30th, the US International Trade Commission (USITC) reversed their earlier decision, finding the US tire market is being harmed by truck and bus imports from China. In short – bus and truck imports from China will now be subject to tariffs. A tariff rate and timeline for imposition of duties was not reported by the USITC.

The USITC released a 62-page determination in response to an order of the U.S. Court of International Trade. Back in November 2018, the USITC remanded the ITC’s decision therefore requiring the ITC to re-evaluate their case.

What caused the reversal?
The five-members of the ITC had changed membership in 2017 when commissioner Scott Kieff left 3 years before the end of his term. President Trump later nominated and the Senate confirmed former President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the commission – Jason Kearnes.

Jason Kearnes turned out to be the swing vote in the most recent reversal of the ITC decision on bus and truck tires.

Very brief history:
In January 2016, the US Steelworkers filed a complaint that tire imports from China was hurting US industry. After investigating, the ITC voted in February 2017 to NOT impose tariffs. This was a surprise because every other tire investigation led to imposition of duties.The US Steelworkers then appealed the decision to the Court of International Trade and in November 2018, the USITC was forced to re-evaluate their decision. Ultimately in their re-evaluation, the ITC found: β€œIn sum, we find that the significant volume of subject imports, at prices that undersold the domestic like product and depressed domestic prices, adversely impacted the domestic industry. We consequently determine that the domestic industry is materially injured by reason of subject imports.”

Please contact our offices if you have questions on how the most recent ITC decision will effect your company’s imports of bus and truck tries from China. You can call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 at anytime or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

General Tips for New Importers.

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Importing anything into the US is a trap for the unweary and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP or “Customs”) does not accept “I didn’t know that” as a valid excuse. CBP requires all importers and exporters to be aware of the law before they import or export and as the old saying goes, “ignorance of the law is not an excuse”.

Here are a few tips –
1. You do not need an “import license” to import into the US.
2. You may need a license, certification or permit from other Federal agencies depending on what you want to import.
3. You need an Importer of Record number, typically your IRS business registration number.
4. If you don’t have an IRS business number, you can apply for a number from CBP through Form 5106 (after the shutdown).
5. Consult the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to see how your merchandise will be classified when entering the US.
6. You can get a ruling prior to an importation of merchandise through CBP to ensure proper classifcation and rate of duty.
7. Seek out the assistance of a Customs Broker licensed by CBP. You can find a list of Customs Brokers at your port through the CBP.gov website.

The seven tips above are just the tip of the iceberg of what CBP will require an importer to know. Feel free to give us a call before you begin importing – we’re here to help. Call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

China imports zero U.S. soybeans in November – first time since trade war started.

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According to Reuters, China imported zero U.S soybeans in November, the first time since the trade war started earlier this year. China is the world’s largest soybean buyer and according to Reuters, sourced soybeans from Brazil to replace U.S. soybean imports.

China imported 5.07 million tonnes of soybeans from Brazil in November whereas U.S. soybean imports dropped to only 67,000 tonnes in October (a sharp drop from the 4.7 million tonnes imported to China in November 2017).

Trade in soybeans totaled over $12 billion in 2017 when the U.S. was the second largest supplier of soybeans to China. U.S. soybean imports have a duty of 25%, the same percentage the Trump administration levied on over $200 billion in Chinese goods.

Check back for the latest news. If you have any questions on how to importing/exporting or how the China duties may impact your business – contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

China set to resume importing oil from the US.

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According to the Financial Tribune, the trading arm of China’s Sinopec and largest buyer of US crude oil – Unipec, will resume purchase of US crude oil very soon at a significant volume.

Unipec has not imported US crude oil in August or September of this year. However, since the “truce” in the US and China trade war in early December where both sides agreed to suspend raising tariffs for an additional 90 days, Chinese refiners have started to look to the US for crude oil.

Qualcomm asks Judge to block iPhone imports – Judge says no because of “public interest factors”.

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Qualcomm appeared in front of the US International Trade Commission Judge on Friday to request a ban on the importation of Apple iPhones due to Apple phones infringing Qualcomm’s patent related to power management technology. Apple’s position is that Qualcomm is requesting royalties for technology unrelated to Qualcomm.

The administrative law judge, Thomas Pender, found Apple did infringe on one patent, but denied the request for a ban citing “public interest factors”.

From my experience, CBP will readily and gladly detain and/or seize any import that infringes upon any intellectual property or trademark registered by the holder. We all know the reason why the Judge said he would not ban the importations of iPhones – he does not want to be known as “that guy” that banned importation of some iPhones to the US – especially due to the release of the new iPhone max and other variations.

Unfortunately, this decision highlights the rules being selectively applied to some and not to others.

If your imports have been detained or seized by Customs, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

How you can protect your company in light of the new China tariffs.

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Since “List 1” of the tariffs on Chinese goods became effective on July 6th, we’ve had many calls from importers, forwarders and brokers on the best practices moving forward. Here’s a quick summary of what any importer should do regarding their imports of Chinese goods –

  1. Apply for a company-specific exclusion from the tariffs. The U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) has published procedures for doing so on their website. The current approved exclusions are from steel tariffs with more exclusions to follow as Lists 2 and 3 take effect likely later this year.
  2. Review your classifications of imported merchandise. There may be more appropriate HTSUS numbers that your merchandise can be entered under and not subject to duties.
  3. Companies can also use the rules of origin to see if imported merchandise can be from another country other than China. This could result from moving the manufacture location, or moving the location of the “substantial transformation” of those goods.
  4. Adjust the valuation of the merchandise. See if the imported goods are properly valued.
  5. If merchandise is imported to the US for export out of the US, be sure property TIB, IT, T&E bonds are filed.
  6. No one likes surprises – it is best for importers, compliance, supply chain, sales and accounting to notify company management of potential tariff changes and the economic impact these new tariffs will have on profit and costs.

If you have any questions or want to know how your company can protect itself from these new duties, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

FDA issues new warning on Kratom – May 22, 2018.

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U.S. Food & Drug Administration Logo, credit: FDA.gov

On May 22, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a new warning (full text here) for three marketers and distributors of kratom products:

1. Front Range Kratom of Aurora, Colorado;
2. Kratom Spot of Irvine, California and
3. Revibe, Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri.

The FDA claims the above distributors and others like them are illegally selling unapproved kratom-containing drug products with unproven claims about their ability to help in the treatment of opioid addiction and withdrawal.

The FDA cited the companies claims that kratom also treats pain, lowers blood pressure, treats cancer and reduces the damage caused by strokes.

As you are aware, all medical claims from a food or drug product must be approved by the FDA. The FDA position is that kratom as an “opioid analogue” that may contribute to the opioid epidemic instead of treating the addiction.

The FDA warning reiterated FDA”s position that Mitragyna speciosa (kratom) use expose users to a risk of addiction, abuse and dependence by affecting the same opioid brain receptors as morphine. At the moment there are no FDA-approved uses for kratom.

Benefits of kratom?
Commonly argued benefits of kratom include: helping end drug addiction, ability to lower blood pressure, relieve pain, boost metabolism, increase sexual energy, improve the immune system, prevent diabetes, ease anxiety, eliminate stress, and induce healthy sleep. It is believed that kratom also reduces the opiate withdraw effects allowing those addicted to other opioids an opportunity to quit. The list of kratom benefits also include relieving headaches, vascular pain, arthritic pain and muscle pain?

FDA-Approval soon?
A check on the FDA site shows no indicating kratom/mitragyna speciosa will be approved anytime soon or even in the near future. Some argue FDA-approval doesn’t legitimize a drug as evidenced by the multitude of mass tort pharmaceutical lawsuits over dangerous drugs (trasylol, accutane, actos, depakote, hydroxycut, etc).

How does this FDA release impact imports of kratom?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) enforces the laws of all the US government agencies (FDA, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, etc). This new FDA warning and others before it mean that imports of kratom may be subject to detainment and seizure if the imports of kratom contain non FDA-approved statements concerning the benefits of kratom. Officially, kratom is still being imported into the US with sporadic reports of seized kratom shipments.

More questions?
If you have any questions about the importation of kratom or a seizure related to kratom, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu by text/phone at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.