JAS USA COMPLIANCE

News & Insights from JAS Worldwide Compliance

JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc.

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JAS USA Compliance Insights

Announcements

JAS USA Compliance Insights on the Impact of COVID-19

301 UPDATES
June 3, 2024
The last 30 days have brought many updates to Section 301 duties, exclusions and more

The last 30 days have brought many updates to Section 301 duties, exclusions and more.  The action all started on May 14, 2024, when the USTR announced that further action would be taken against China’s unfair technology transfer policies and practices.  It was announced that key products would be subject to new rates over the next two years.  

May 22, 2024, there was a follow up to the May 14 announcement which further defined that 382 HTSUS subheadings and 5 statistical reporting numbers of the HTSUS are the specific products that will have the increases in 2024, 2025 and 2026.  This notice also noted that an exclusion process is being established for machinery used in domestic manufacturing and under certain subheadings under chapters 84 and 85 of the HTSUS.  Finally, this notice proposes 19 temporary exclusions for solar manufacturing equipment.

Finally, on May 24, 2024, the USTR published details about the disposition of the existing Section 301 exclusions 9903.88.67 and 9903.88.68 which have been scheduled to expire on May 31, 2024.  In summary, all exclusions under 9903.88.67 and 9903.88.68 have been extended to July 14, 2024.  On July 15, 2024, a new exclusion will be effective.  The new exclusion, under 9903.88.69 will cover 87 of the original 352 exclusions under 9903.88.67.  

For more details, check out our 3 Client advisories released during May linked below.

Section 301 Action MAY 14 2024USTR Notice on 301 Duty Increases Proposed ExclusionsUSTR NOTICE ON EXISTING 9903.88.67 AND 9903.88.68 EXCLUSIONS
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CBP publishes numerous Informed Compliance Publications

CBP publishes numerous Informed Compliance Publications. These documents can be extremely useful in answering detailed questions about the application of CBP rules/laws on a wide range of topics. Some of the topics covered include Valuation, classification of sets, classification of specific product types, drawback, reasonable care, recordkeeping, rules of origin and the list goes on. These documents are publicly available and can be viewed online or downloaded. To check them out, follow the link below!

See these Documents Here
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U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has updated the process for excluding certain steel and aluminum imports from tariffs, effective July 1, 2024. This revision removes twelve General Approved Exclusions (GAEs), aiming to strengthen domestic steel and aluminum production and reduce reliance on foreign manufacturing.  The changes follow public feedback and are intended to ensure fairness and transparency in the exclusions process while upholding national security interests.  BIS has been overseeing this process since tariffs were imposed in 2018, and these adjustments reflect ongoing efforts to refine controls and support U.S. industrial base.

read the full press release
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BANKRUPTCY BILL
April 3, 2024
US Capitol Building

JAS Forwarding (USA) Inc.’s VP Compliance, Laurie Arnold and Compliance Operations Manager and NCBFAA Legislative Committee Chair, Leah Ellis, has diligently championed to help pass the Customs Business Fairness Act (CBFA) for many years alongside the National Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA).  In a significant victory for Customs Brokers the bill was included in a continuing resolution bill that passed both the House and Senate.  The CBFA has finally come to fruition.  “The CBFA bill has been a long-standing passion of mine to help prevent Customs Brokers from having to return customs duties when an importer has filed bankruptcy and at long last (20 years) this bill has passed and signed into law and I am very happy to have been a part of the march to protect the Customs Brokers of our industry,” said Laurie Arnold when asked for her reaction on the passing of CBFA.

The CBFA, a long-standing initiative of the NCBFAA, aims to protect customs brokers and their employees by advocating for changes in bankruptcy laws. The bill seeks to grant "subrogation" rights to customs brokers, allowing them to assume the priority rights of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when importers file for bankruptcy. This would prevent payments made to CBP through customs brokers from being subject to preference payment recovery actions during the 90-day period preceding the importer's bankruptcy filing.

NCBFAA President Jose D. (JD) Gonzalez lauded the passage of CBFA, emphasizing its importance to the customs broker industry. He credited the dedicated efforts of the association's Legislative Committee leadership, Legislative Advisor Nicole Bivens Collinson, and member companies for lobbying lawmakers and pushing for the bill's passage.

Special recognition was extended to Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) for his role in championing CBFA in the House of Representatives. Garbarino reintroduced the bill at the association's request in 2023, garnering bipartisan support with 28 co-sponsors. NCBFAA expressed gratitude to its members for their engagement in advocacy efforts, including letter-writing campaigns urging Representatives to support the bill.

NCBFAA also acknowledged the contributions of individuals and organizations who worked tirelessly over the past two decades to advance CBFA. Past and current leaders of the association's Legislative Committee, along with former NCBFAA Legislative Representative Jon Kent, were recognized for their efforts. Additionally, the longstanding lobbying efforts of organizations such as the New York/New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders & Brokers Association, JFK Airport Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association, and International Trade Surety Association were highlighted as instrumental in the bill's progress.

Read the Original Article Here
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THE QUIET ENFORCERS
April 3, 2024
US Department of Homeland Security Seal

In a recent enforcement action at International Falls, Minnesota, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers intercepted over 7,800 lighting fixtures bearing counterfeit Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification marks. These fixtures, as part of shipments from China and imported by a U.S. home design company, were deemed unsafe after inspection, raising concerns about potential fire hazards.

The seized lighting fixtures, among the cargo transiting from Canada into the United States, were inspected by CBP officers at International Falls, the busiest rail port in the country. Upon discovering the counterfeit UL certification marks, which falsely implied safety testing, CBP seized the shipments and initiated enforcement actions.

DeAnn O’Hara, CBP’s Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Officer for the area port of Pembina, North Dakota, highlighted the seriousness of the issue. "When U.S. consumers purchase a lighting fixture with a UL trademark on it, they are under the impression that the lighting fixture has been tested for safety. When Chinese manufacturers fraudulently place a UL trademark on untested fixtures, they are tricking consumers into buying a product that may not be safe and could start a fire in their homes," she explained.

CBP imposed fines totaling $100,000 on the shipments, in addition to seizing and destroying the lighting fixtures. This enforcement action underscores CBP's commitment to protecting the American public from unsafe and counterfeit products.

The seized lighting fixtures represent just one facet of CBP's broader efforts to safeguard public safety and enforce trade regulations. Beyond intercepting unsafe goods, CBP's Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Division (FP&F) plays a crucial role in adjudicating enforcement actions, ensuring compliance with laws, and facilitating the forfeiture process for seized items.

FP&F, comprised of a team of officers, paralegals, seized property specialists, and technicians nationwide, handles a wide range of cases, from drug seizures to intellectual property rights violations. The division follows a strict process with defined timeframes to ensure fairness and due process for all parties involved.

In addition to its enforcement duties, FP&F is instrumental in returning stolen property and cultural artifacts to their rightful owners. Recent successes include repatriating stolen artifacts to countries like Ukraine and Yemen, showcasing CBP's dedication to preserving cultural heritage and combating illegal trade.

While CBP faces challenges in keeping pace with evolving trade patterns and increasing volumes of shipments, its collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and commitment to public safety remain steadfast. As DeAnn O’Hara emphasized, "At CBP, we take the safety of the American public very seriously. That’s why we work so hard to remove unsafe products from the U.S. commerce before they can ever reach consumers."

Read the Original Story Here
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBP) at the San Ysidro Port of Entry apprehended over $11 million worth of blue fentanyl pills concealed within a vehicle recently.

In a significant interception, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBP) at the San Ysidro Port of Entry apprehended over $11 million worth of blue fentanyl pills concealed within a vehicle recently.

A staggering estimated 561,000 fentanyl pills, with a total weight of 123.6 pounds, were confiscated by CBP officers during the operation, highlighting the continuous efforts to curb the influx of illicit drugs across the border.

The interception unfolded around 8:20 p.m. when a 37-year-old man driving a 2008 sedan applied for admission into the United States from Mexico at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. A CBP K-9 unit, conducting routine pre-primary inspections, alerted officers to the glove compartment area, indicating potential narcotics present presence.

Following the canine alert, CBP officers proceeded with further examination, leading them to refer both the driver and the vehicle for comprehensive inspection in the secondary inspection area.

Upon meticulous scrutiny, CBP officers uncovered a startling discovery – a total of 100 packages containing blue pills meticulously concealed within the vehicle's dashboard and the front passenger seats. Subsequent testing confirmed the contents as fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid known for its lethal potency.

Mariza Marin, Port Director for the San Ysidro Port of Entry, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “Fentanyl is a very lethal drug that continues to be encountered along our southern border. I’m very proud of the exceptional work by our officers who skillfully interdict illicit narcotics on a daily basis.”

The apprehended individual was promptly handed over to the custody of Homeland Security Investigations for further investigation, while both the narcotics and the vehicle were seized by CBP officers as part of the operation.

This seizure is part of Operation Apollo, a collaborative regional effort involving federal, state, and local agencies aimed at combating the pervasive threat posed by fentanyl and other illicit synthetic narcotics. Operation Apollo underscores the commitment of law enforcement entities to safeguard communities against the devastating impact of drug trafficking.

For more information about Operation Apollo and ongoing efforts to combat the drug trade, interested individuals are encouraged to seek additional details through official channels.

The successful interception serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication of CBP officers in safeguarding the nation's borders and preventing dangerous substances from infiltrating communities.

Read the Original Story Here
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CBP HOLDS GREEN TRADE FORUM WITH ACTING COMMISSIONER MILLER DELIVERING ADDRESS

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held its inaugural Green Trade Forum on July 11. Various strategies to incentivize green trade and encourage innovation were discussed. Several commentators mentioned the possibility of utilizing the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to promote green trade by adding tariff breakouts for goods made with environmentally preferred materials such as recycled or organically grown materials. CBP Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller spoke at the event highlighting such CBP actions as a goal to have 50% of the CBP vehicle fleet consist of electric vehicles by 2030, CBP’s goal to digitize any remaining manual and paper-based processes, and their commitment to work with interagency partners, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), inter alia, to prevent natural resource crimes such as illegal deforestation and logging and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. A recording of the forum will be made available soon on the Green Trade Innovation and Incentives Forum page on the CBP website.

Link to the Green Trade Innovation and Incentives Forum web pageLink to the text of the speech by Acting Commissioner Miller
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SHEFFIELD HALLAM RELEASES EXTENSIVE LIST OF UYGHUR REGION COMPANIES

Sheffield Hallam University in the United Kingdom via its Forced Labor Lab released another forced labor resource in the form of a spreadsheet listing over 50,000 companies that operate in the Uyghur Region of China. The spreadsheet also has a section grouping over 35,000 companies under specific industry categories. Sheffield Hallam provides numerous resources on its website relating to forced labor issues in the Uyghur region, including a 50+ page report on automotive supply chain connections to forced labor in the region.

Link to the spreadsheet
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United States Capitol

A letter signed by 66 members of the U.S. House of Representatives was sent to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri, urging renewal of the Generalized System of Preferences Program (GSP). The GSP is a trade program that provides nonreciprocal, duty free treatment for certain U.S. imports from eligible developing countries. The program expired in December 2020. Various measures to renew the program have been introduced since its expiration, some with provisions to alter eligibility requirements, however, the program remains expired at present.

Copy of the Representatives letter
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Cosmetic Registration Requirement

In a recent letter, the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to delay for a year the requirement for cosmetic facility registration under the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA). MoCRA requires any establishment that manufacturers or processes cosmetic products that are distributed in the United States to assume various new responsibilities as follows:

  • Adverse event reporting
  • Facility registration
  • Product listing
  • Product safety substantiation
  • FDA Mandatory Recall authority

The present deadline for registration and product listing is December 31, 2023. FDA, however, has not outlined exactly how the registation process will work or what system will be utilized. Therefore, NCBFAA is requesting a year extension to allow the trade more time to prepare.

Link to details of MoCRA
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Porpoises swimming

The latest chapter in the ongoing efforts to save the endangered vaquita porpoise and the resulting impact on trade with Mexico unfolded on July 17 when the current administration published a letter to Congress outlining what trade sanctions, if any, would be imposed upon the government of Mexico. The letter was mandated by a settlement between the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) and three conservation groups that had filed suit in the Court of International Trade. The conservation groups had been petitioning Interior since 2014 to take action under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 to certify that Mexico was in violation of the act and international agreements by not taking adequate measures to protect the vaquita. Interior agreed to certify that Mexico was not meeting its obligations and that the executive branch must then determine what action to take. The vaquita is a miniature porpoise indigenous only to the Northern Gulf of California. It is protected under several U.S. laws. There are believed to be only 15 or less left in the wild.

The main threat to the vaquita is the use of gillnets to catch the totoaba fish that shares the same habitat with the vaquita. The vaquita can become entangled in these nets and drown. The totoaba are also endangered, however, the swim bladder of the totoaba is highly valued in China for its supposed medicinal properties. Customs and Border Protection in June seized 242 pounds of totoaba bladders attempting to be smuggled through the Port of Nogales. The estimated value was almost 3 million dollars. In the letter, it was stated that no sanctions would be imposed on Mexico at this time, as progress is being made in the ongoing dialogue between the two countries. There certainly will be more to come concerning the fate of the vaquita and how this will impact trade.

Link to the Letter
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GAO RELEASES SECTION 232 DUTY EXCLUSION REPORT

Following a request from several influential members of Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), issued a report in July on the administration of approved Section 232 duty exclusions for steel and aluminum. The review period was from March 2018 to September 2021. Various issues were discovered with the process by which the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) transmits data on approved exclusions to Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is done via spreadsheets from which CBP must manually upload the data to the ACE system. CBP also stated that there is not an automated way for them to monitor exclusion usage against the approved total quantities allowed. CBP staff have to monitor the usage and manually deactivate an exclusion that has reached the total quantity limit. As a result of these issues, the GAO found that almost $32 million in duty exclusions were allowed by CBP for imports that had, in fact, exceeded the total quantities authorized under the particular exclusion.

In an appendix to the report, a review of the tariff rate and absolute annual quotas on steel and aluminum that are in effect from the European Union, Korea, Brazil, and Argentina revealed issues as well. CBP staff communicated that these quotas are very complex and laborious to administer, many of which were instituted without allowing adequate time for ACE to be programmed accordingly.

Link to the GAO report
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CBP Logo

On July 28, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced adjusted amounts for certain user fees for fiscal year 2024 as mandated by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The COBRA requires CBP to adjust certain fees to reflect increases in inflation. The changes will be in effect as of October 1, 2023. Some of the listed changes include :

  • The Merchandise Processing Fee minimum charge will increase to $31.67 and the maximum charge increases to $614.35.
  • The Customs Broker Permit User Fee increases to $174.80.
  • The Informal Entry Fee for Automated release increases to $2.53.
Link to the Federal Register Notice
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CBP PUBLISHES FINAL RULE FOR CUSTOMS BROKER CONTINUING EDUCATION

On June 23, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published in the Federal Register its much-anticipated final rule for Continuing Education for Licensed Customs Brokers. The rule will be effective as of July 24, 2023. The final rule closely resembles the proposed rule that was published on September 10, 2021, with some minor changes. Some key elements of the rule:

  • Individual brokers will be required to complete at least 36 continuing education credits per each triennial reporting period.
  • Individual brokers will be required to certify compliance as a part of the filing of their triennial status reports. Records to substantiate the credits earned must be maintained but will only need to be provided to CBP upon request.
  • The first reporting period that it will apply to will be the 2024 to 2027 period.
  • For the triennial period beginning on February 1, 2024, CBP will reduce the 36 continuing education credits, required to be completed, by six credits for approximately every six months that elapse between February 1, 2024 and the compliance date on which individual brokers may begin completing qualified continuing broker education courses.
  • The actual number of credits required for the 2024 to 2027 period and the date from which brokers can start earning credits will be announced in a subsequent Federal Register notice.
  • CBP will utilize the System for Award Management (SAM) to vet and approve qualified accreditors to accredit training and educational activities.
  • CBP-selected accreditors will not be allowed to self-certify the party’s own training and educational activities.

CBP has also created a new page on its website to obtain information on this requirement going forward. link to the Federal Register notice
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WORLD CUSTOMS ORGANIZATION ELECTS U.S. CANDIDATE

Ian Saunders was elected to become the next Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO). The WCO, an independent intergovernmental body representing 185 Customs administrations across the globe, is the global center of customs expertise whose mission is to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. Mr. Saunders was the U.S. candidate and is currently the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration.

Mr. Saunders stated previously that: “My vision for the WCO is to have an organization that builds on its past. The WCO is responsible for a lot of the consistency that we have in the management of local trade now. But I want to make sure that we’re building an organization that is focused on providing the right information products and services to members that will allow them to protect their societies better from both a revenue and a security perspective.”

“My vision also includes engaging the private sector in a different way. The WCO’s individual customs administrations have constraints on their resources, and we need to find ways to mine the expertise and resources of the private sector that shares an interest in seeing international trade function well. We need to engage in a way that allows those insights and those resources to be brought to bear on the problems that are bigger than any one of us alone.”

link to the announcement
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CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY PROPOSES AMENDMENTS

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has proposed a controversial amendment to the rules governing the valuation of imports into Canada under the Valuation for Duty Regulations.  One of the items causing concern is a proposed change to the term “sale for export”.  The CBSA stated the following in a consultation notice:

“This proposal would ensure that the value for duty of imported goods determined under the transaction value method is based on the sale that causes the goods to be exported to Canada, i.e. the last transaction in the commercial chain, irrespective of the chronological order of the sales. Under the proposal, the term "sale" would be constructed in a broad sense, which would include any type of arrangements that cause the goods to be exported to Canada.”

One concern is that the above broad definition of “sale for export” could lead to a situation wherein a subsequent domestic sale in Canada for a higher price for the merchandise being imported could be construed as the last transaction in the chain that caused the goods to be exported to Canada. This could then lead to higher determined valuation amounts and increased duty liabilities.

A link to information on the proposal
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EU Flag

As the European Union’s Import Control System 2 (ICS2) second release deployment window comes to an end on July 1, requiring all airlines to submit detailed shipment information into a new centralized system known as the “Shared Trader Interface” before goods are loaded onto an aircraft, JAS USA is more than ready. Laurie Arnold, Vice President Compliance of JAS USA, stated:

“We're going to be ready. We know what we're doing. We're not going to have to try to figure out how we're going to transmit this data to the airlines or how the airlines are going to get it and transmit it to the government. We will be ahead of the game.”

Click for more information
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CBP BALTIMORE FIELD OFFICE INTERCEPTS MOST STOLEN VEHICLES FOR 2022

Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Baltimore Field Office (which covers the ports of Baltimore MD, Norfolk VA, and Philadelphia PA, inter alia) took the top spot for intercepting the most stolen vehicles attempting to be exported during the 2022 fiscal year. A total of 239 stolen vehicles were seized with an estimated total value of $11,500,000. The most expensive vehicle recovered was a 2022 Bentley Bentayga, valued at $187,600. Some other interesting aspects of these seizures were:

  • 95 percent (225 vehicles) were destined to West African nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • The top-5 recovered stolen vehicles were the Land Rover Range Rover (27 vehicles), Toyota 4-Runner (18), Toyota Rav4 (17), BMW X7 (16), and BMW X5 (15).
  • The oldest vehicle was a 1973 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow recovered in Baltimore and destined to Saudi Arabia. The Silver Shadow was valued at $11,700.

Click to read the announcement from CBP
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RECENT EAPA INVESTIGATIONS INITIATED

Although the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000 (CDSOA) was repealed in 2005, there are still antidumping and countervailing duty orders with assessed amounts that can be claimed by affected domestic producers who qualify and submit the required certifications by July 31, 2023.

Customs and Border Protection has also recently initiated several Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) investigations alleging evasion of antidumping/countervailing duty orders. Some of the products concerned are Chassis and Subassembiles from China, Quartz Surface Products from China, and Xanthan Gum from China.

Click to access the Federal Register notice with full informationClick for more details on the investigations
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European Commission Announces EU Customs Reform Plan

On May 17, the European Commission (EC) unveiled an ambitious reform plan for the EU Customs Union to include the creation of the EU Customs Data Hub to provide a single interface and data repository for all traders to interact with EU Customs. The proposal also includes a “Trust & Check” program for approved traders to import goods without customs intervention, self-monitor for compliance, and pay duties periodically. The de minimis duty exemption of 150 Euro would be eliminated and online platforms would become the “deemed importer” for e-commerce shipments instead of the purchaser.

Read the notice from the EC
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Customs and Border Protection's Green Trade Strategy

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced its Green Trade Strategy to incentivize green trade, strengthen CBP’s environmental enforcement posture, accelerate green innovation, and improve climate resilience and resource efficiency. On July 11, 2023, CBP will host a Green Trade Innovation and Incentives Forum to allow members of the trade industry, academia, and any other interested entities to share ideas and innovations related to this strategy.

Access a video introducing the strategy hereGet more information here
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CBP Delays Ocean House Bill Release in Ace and Automation of CBP Form 6051D for Detentions

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announed on 05/12/23 an indefinite delay in the deployment of the much anticipated Ocean House Bill of Lading Release in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). A follow-up notice will be issued once a new date is established. Also, the recently announced deloyment date of 05/20/23 for the “Automation of CBP Form 6051D for Detentions Filed in ACE” was changed to “TBD” (To be determined). This was noted on the ACE Deployment Schedule without an official announcement.

Read More (1) Read More (2)
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Sheffield Hallam University Publishes Brief Detailing Expanded List of Products Made with Forced Labor

Sheffield Hallam University released a new brief entitled “Products Made with Uyghur Forced Labor”. The University’s past briefs and investigations have informed Customs and Border Protection (CBP) actions relating to forced labor. The brief outlines an extensive list of products currently being manufactured in the Xinjiang region of China including aluminum, steel, copper, food additives and supplements and batteries.

Link to this and previous briefs released by the University
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British tobacco company settles for $629 million for violations for North Korean sanctions

British American Tobacco and its Singaporean subsidiary agreed to pay combined penalties of more than $629 million in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for bank fraud and sanctions violations concerning clandestine sales of tobacco to various North Korean entities. Assitant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen was quoted as saying, “Today’s action, which involves the largest North Korean sanctions penalty in the history of the Justice Department, should serve as a clear warning to companies everywhere about the costs and consequences of violating U.S. sanctions.”

Read the DOJ Press Release
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 2023 Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit was held April 17 to 19 in Boston with a record live attendance of 1,200 and 3,000 virtual participants.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 2023 Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit was held April 17 to 19 in Boston with a record live attendance of 1,200 and 3,000 virtual participants. Panel and breakout sessions covered a variety of topics including De Minimis challenges, Cybersecurity, Forced labor enforcement, Green trade, E-commerce, Broker Modernization, and several Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) sessions. CBP Acting Commissioner Troy A. Miller spoke at the event and stated, “Protecting the security, health and economic vitality of the American people has required intense work and commitment from customs brokers, logistics experts, importers and exporters, legal advisors, civil society and many more. Thank you for your partnership.”

Click for details of the summit
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TYPE 86 CHANGE

In a notice published in the Federal Register on January 16, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it is amending the ACE Entry Type 86 Test to require filing of these entries prior to or upon arrival of the cargo. The Entry Type 86 is a test allowing the electronic filing of entries for low-value shipments meeting the requirements for admission under the administrative exemption in 19 U.S.C. 1321(a)(2)(C). The traditional entry time frame of permitting filing of an entry up to 15 days after arrival of the cargo was used initially for the Entry Type 86 test. However, CBP has determined that that time frame “has proven to be inconsistent with the expedited process envisioned for the ACE Entry Type 86 Test”, and this has led to enforcement challenges and various violations such as entry by parties without the right to make entry, incorrect manifesting of cargo, misclassification, and delivery of goods prior to release from CBP custody. The requirement to file Type 86 entries prior to or upon arrival of the cargo will go into effect on February 15, 2024.

GUN TSA

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) advised that 2023 was a record year for the interception of firearms at airport security checkpoints. A record 6,737 firearms were intercepted at airport checkpoints during 2023, with 93%, or close to 6,265 firearms, being loaded at the time of interception. Firearms are strictly prohibited in carry-on baggage. They are allowed in checked baggage, however, they must be unloaded and packed in a locked hard-sided case and the presence of the firearm must be declared at the check-in counter. Upon discovery of a firearm at a checkpoint, the TSA officer will contact local law enforcement, who will remove the passenger and the firearm from the checkpoint. The passenger involved could then be arrested or cited. In addition, the passenger will be liable for a fine of up to $15,000 for possesing the firearm at the checkpoint.

On a lighter note, or maybe not so lighter note, the TSA also published a list of the Top Ten prohibited items discovered in traveler’s carry-on baggage in Idaho airports in 2023. Among the top items were a hatchet, a Ninja throwing star, a crow bar, and a grenade-shaped bottle of hot sauce.. (pictures are below).

JAS KNOW

This month we launch a new feature of our monthly newsletter – JAS WANTS TO KNOW! - A short one question poll to receive our readers’ input and advice. Our poll this month is concerning compliance challenges. Click below to let us know!

NCBFAA PORT

Laurie Arnold, JAS Vice President of Compliance, and Leah Ellis, JAS Compliance Operations Manager, were on the move this month attending the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association’s (NCBFAA) quarterly board meeting held in Los Angeles. Laurie serves as the Treasurer of the NCBFAA and Leah is the Legislative Committee Chair. During their time in Los Angeles, Laurie and Leah were also given an extensive tour of the Port of Los Angeles by invitation of the Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association.

See below for pictures of the tour.

TARIFF DIFFICULT

While regular practitioners of tariff classification well know this, the World Customs Organization (WCO) recently issued a 30 page report, The Exploratory Study on a Possible Strategic Review of The Harmonized System, which concluded that the tariff classification process is a very complex system which requires a high level of skill to use appropriately. The purpose of the report was to explore the feasibility of possible structural changes to the system to improve the accuracy and consistency of the process and make it more “user-friendly”. One of the issues noted was that key words are often not defined in the tariff schedule or, if defined, the location of definitions can be hard to find. The complex nature of the process was illustrated by a discussion on how to classify a plastic covered textile, a truly difficult proposition. One interesting note was that the WCO did a survey and found that a majority of respondents do not really use or do not really understand how to use the General Rules of Interpretation, which are supposed to explain how to classify. Lets hope the report leads to some improvements.

301 CHINA

In a Federal Register notice, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that 77 COVID-related and 352 other Section 301 duty exclusions that were set to expire on December 31, 2023, will be extended for an additional 5 months through May 31, 2024. The Section 301 duties were imposed on various products from China to counter certain acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation. The USTR stated that the extension of the exclusions “will enable the orderly review of the exclusions consistent with statutory factors and objectives to identify in which cases additional time would enable shifts in sourcing to the United States or third countries”. The statutorily required four-year review of the Section 301 duties themselves is currently in process and the USTR further stated that this extension “will also facilitate the alignment of further decisions on these exclusions with the ongoing four-year review”.

CBP LOGO GBI

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is still welcoming importers of record and licensed customs brokers to participate in the Global Business Identifier (GBI) Evaluative Proof of Concept (EPoC). The GBI is a test to determine a potential replacement for the Manufacturer or Shipper Identification code (MID) currently required to be provided on entries filed with CBP. This new identifier could also be used for other entities involved in the entry process to obtain a “deeper insight into the legal structure of “who is who” across the spectrum of trade entities, and to understand more clearly ownership, affiliation, and parent-subsidiary relationship”. Participants in the EPoC can provide, at the time of entry filing, any of three entity identifiers associated with manufacturers, shippers, and sellers of merchandise covered by the entries. These identifiers are the nine (9) digit Data Universal Numbering System (D–U–N–S®), thirteen (13) digit Global Location Number (GLN), and twenty (20) digit Legal Entity Identifier (LEI). The test is limited to entry types 01 and 11, and to certain commodities and countries of origin. The limitations of the MID are well known in trade circles. Therefore, CBP is encouraging participation in this EPoC to facilitate the determination of a more robust replacement. If you would like to participate in this EPoC, contact compliance@jas.com.

VIOLATION FCA

A recent series of settlements in False Claims Act (FCA) cases and a large fine imposed by a California District court demonstrate the importance of complying with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) importation regulations. FCA cases are filed by “whistleblowers”, on behalf of the United States, charging any person with making a false claim to the federal government. The whistleblower, called the relator, receives a portion of any agreed settlement.

In Georgia, an importer of tools will pay $1.9 million to settle FCA allegations that it was falsely labelling its tools as “made in Germany” when, in fact, the tools were made in China. The settlement states that tools manufactured in China were sent to Germany for some additional processing and were then commingled with tools that had no additional processing done in Germany. All the items were then claimed to be of German origin upon importation into the U.S., thus avoiding the payment of Section 301 duties of 25%  assessed on certain imports of Chinese origin.

In Texas, in another FCA settlement, an importer of industrial products, along with two Chinese companies and two individuals, agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations that they were undervaluing imported goods. Commercial invoices were submitted to CBP at time of entry for the items in question showing values that were lower than the actual values and agreed prices. Invoices showing the true higher values were then sent by the Chinese suppliers to the importer at a later time. This resulted in the loss of revenue for CBP in the form of underpaid customs duties and other fees.

Finally, in California, in another double-invoicing scheme, a clothing wholesale company was fined $4 million, ordered to pay $6,390,781 in restitution, and placed on probation for five years for undervaluing imported garments in a scheme to avoid paying millions of dollars in customs duties. In this case as well, a false lower valued commercial invoice was submitted to CBP at time of entry, and a true higher value invoice was then sent later to the importer by the Chinese supplier resulting in the underpayment of duties and fees.

COSMETICS DIRECT

On December 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the launch of the Cosmetics Direct electronic submission portal for registration and listing of cosmetic product facilities and products. Cosmetics Direct is dedicated exclusively to cosmetic product facility registration and cosmetic product listing electronic submissions mandated by the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA). FDA had advised previously that enforcement of these new requirements would be delayed to provide industry with sufficent time to submit the facility registration and product listing information. FDA will not be enforcing the requirements until July 1, 2024. However, the law is now in effect, and all facilities required to register and submit product listings should do so as soon as possible and well before the July 1 deadline.

CAPITOL LAW

Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced the bipartisan Customs Modernization Act of 2023 which would make significant changes to laws administered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Some of the key sections of the proposed bill include:

• Allowing CBP to access data prior to entry from parties throughout the supply chain. The importer of record could convert this pre-entry information into a certified entry filing. For any violation relating to the filing of the required pre-entry information by any party, CBP may impose a penalty of $5,000 for the first violation of these regulations and $10,000 for subsequent violations.

• At present, only ocean vessel manifest information must be publicly disclosed. The proposal would make it mandatory to also publicly disclose aircraft, truck and rail manifest information for the purpose, inter alia, of monitoring supply chains for illegal goods like fentanyl and those made with forced labor, combatting trade-based money laundering, and identifying unfair trade practices like dumping.

• Relaxing the seizure and forfeiture rules to allow for the summary forfeiture of certain IPR-infringing goods by CBP without having to go through the formal seizure/forfeiture process. This is to allow CBP the ability to seize and forfeit articles found violative in the de minimis realm in an expedited fashion.

• Specific penalties are enumerated for violations of the Section 321 de minimis provisions of up to $1,000 for the first violation and $2,000 for each subsequent violation.

• Under current law, CBP can penalize vessel masters, aircraft pilots, and persons in charge of a vehicle for failing to comply with reporting requirements like providing manifest information. However, much of this data is now transmitted electronically by other parties such as the air carrier. A new provision would clarify that “any person” reporting such information who knowingly provides incorrect information is liable for a civil penalty.

Senator Cassidy also advised that a bipartisan Trade Facilitation measure will be introduced in 2024 as well.

EXPORT CONTROL DOC

The Departments of the Treasury, Commerce, Justice, State and Homeland Security jointly published a Quint-Seal Compliance Note entitled “Know Your Cargo: Reinforcing Best Practices to Ensure the Safe and Compliant Transport of Goods in Maritime and Other Forms of Transportation”. The document provides information on potential indicators of efforts to evade sanctions and export controls, emphasizing the need to “know your cargo”. Also included are various examples of recent criminal and civil enforcement actions taken for violations of sanctions and export controls. With six government agencies being involved in the publication of this compliance note, all participants in the global transport of goods should review it in detail.

CO2

The United Kingdom (UK) announced that it will be implementing a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) by 2027, joining, among others, the European Union whose own CBAM entered its transitional phase in October with the first reporting period set to end on January 1, 2024. The UK CBAM will place a carbon price on some of the most emissions-intensive industrial goods imported to the UK from the aluminum, cement, ceramics, fertilizer, glass, hydrogen, iron and steel sectors, with the precise list to be provided sometime in 2024 after additional consultations. The liability applied by the CBAM will depend on the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of the imported good and the gap between the carbon price applied in the country of origin (if any) and the carbon price that would have been applied had the good been produced in the UK. CBAM liability will lie directly with the importer of imported products within the scope of the UK CBAM on the basis of emissions embodied in those goods. Further details will be provided in 2024 also after additional consultations. Exporters of products to the U.K., and to the European Union as well, will need to become familiar with these mechanisms, as their customers in these countries will be needing detailed information on the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of the products they import.

WOMEN APPAREL

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives, recently issued a letter to the President outlining a list of their  legislative priorities, one of which stated “Advance equity in trade policy by considering solutions to reduce gender bias and regressivity of the tariff system, in consultation with Congress”. Now, it may seem a stretch to claim that something like the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, a legalistic, inanimate document for the classification of imported products, could be biased towards a particular gender. However, after further examination, it seems that the NDC is correct, and the tariff may be somewhat biased towards women. A study performed by the International Trade Commission entitled “Gender and Income Inequality in United States Tariff Burden” discovered, “Across genders, we find large differences in tariff burden…The gender gap exists because spending on women’s apparel is higher than on men’s and because the average applied tariff rate on women’s clothing is higher than on men’s”. The study found “the average applied tariff rate for women’s apparel was 14.9%, but it was only 12.0% on men’s apparel. It was also noted that “the gender difference in applied tariff rates is mostly attributed to the sourcing of imports as a much greater share of men’s apparel than women’s apparel comes from U.S. Free Trade Agreement partners”. Perhaps some adjustments in the tariff are in order.

CHEMICAL

In a recent Federal Register notice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing the prohibition of the manufacture, importation, processing, or distribution in commerce of Trichloroethylene (TCE). TCE is widely used as a solvent in a variety of industrial, commercial and consumer applications including for hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) production, vapor and aerosol degreasing, and in lubricants, greases, adhesives, and sealants. In the proposed rule, EPA lists numerous and diverse industries that would be affected by this proposal. Comments on the proposal are due by December 15, 2023. Importers of products containing TCE should review this proposal and submit any comments deemed necessary.

AGOA

The annual eligibility review for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), in accordance with Section 506A(a)(3)(B) of the Trade Act of 1974, has resulted in the termination of eligibility for the Central African Republic, Gabon, Niger, and Uganda. The White House and the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced that recent unconstitutional changes in government in Gabon and Niger, and the resultant threat to political pluralism and the rule of law, led to their termination. The termination of the eligibility of the Central African Republic and Uganda was a result of gross violations of internationally recognized human and worker rights. On a positive note, the country of Mauritania had its eligibility reinstated based on progress it has made with respect to worker rights and eliminating forced labor across the country. Ethiopia, however, did not have its eligibility reinstated at this time. Recently, there have been a lot of discussions in Congress about the need to renew AGOA well in advance of its current September 2025 expiration date, to ensure the continuity of the program and encourage long term investment in the region.

EPA LOGO

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) published a new guide entitled “TIPS FOR FILING AN HFC IMPORT IN ACE” to assist the import community with filing obligations related to imports of bulk hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also announced in November that allocations for the import of HFC’s will be reduced to 60% of the stipulated baseline levels in January 2024. Importers of HFCs should consult this new guide as filing requirements for HFC’s can be complicated. CBP will advise in early January via the Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS) when the new requirements will be operative in ACE.

EXAM

The protracted quest of Mr. Byungmin Chae to have his 2018 Customs Broker License Examination results changed to a passing grade came to an end when the Supreme Court denied his petition for a writ of certiorari in October. Mr. Chae’s case, if nothing else, proved he possesses ample persistence and determination. The court filing states that his original score on the April 2018 exam was 65%, with 75% or higher being needed for a passing grade. He filed a timely appeal to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requesting that his answers to 13 of the questions originally marked wrong be deemed correct. Subsequent to his appeal, CBP announced that all test takers would be given credit for 3 particular questions, 2 of which Mr. Chae had been marked wrong on originally. This raised his score to 67.5%. CBP then denied his appeal request for the other 11 questions. Mr. Chae then appealed this decision to the Office of Trade. The Office of Trade granted his appeal for 3 of the questions, raising his score to 71.25%, but still short of a passing grade. Undaunted, Mr. Chae proceeded to file a petition with the Court of International Trade (CIT) as allowed by the regulations.

The CIT gave him credit for one more of the contested questions, raising his total of correct answers to 58 of the 60 he would need for a passing grade. Still undaunted, Mr. Chae filed an appeal of the CIT decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit asking for 3 questions to be further reviewed. The Appeals Court gave him credit for one of the questions, raising his correct answer total to 59 of the 60 needed. However, the Supreme Court denial of his certiorari request ended the appeals process, terminating his case and giving new meaning to the phrase “so close, yet so far…”.

SIMP

A rule proposed December 28, 2022, by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to significantly expand the species covered under the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) was withdrawn on November 16. The additional species to be added to the SIMP, along with a change stating that the importer of record on the customs filing must also be the party that holds the required  International Fisheries Trade Permit, had caused concern in the trade community leading to a significant number of comments being filed with NMFS concerning the proposed rule. The NMFS advised that they will now conduct a comprehensive SIMP review to determine any future action to be taken in order to strengthen the impact and effectiveness of SIMP.

EURO NOTE

In a recent Cargo Systems Messaging Service message, CBP provided a list of the countries that are members of the European Union and who, therefore, use the Euro as their domestic and international trade currency. It was further stated, “Therefore, all invoices, other documents, and entry transmissions from these countries must show EUR for the foreign value or as their currency code”. CBP is updating its records to reflect the Euro as the appropriate currency for all countries listed.

CBP LOGO

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will hold an important webinar on December 15, 2023, from 2PM to 3PM on the topic of the 2024 Permit Annual User Fee and Triennial Status Report Filing. The webinar will explain the process for paying the Permit fee and filing a Triennial Status Report via the e.CBP online portal. A link to register for the webinar is below.

CRACKERS

Christmas crackers are a festive holiday tradition in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. They consist of a decoratively wrapped tube with a prize, a paper hat and a joke card inside. The wrapping on the tube is extended outwards on both sides and twisted around a shock sensitive card strip similar to what is used for cap gun shot caps. A person at each end will then pull on the wrapping simultaneously, generating a bang or cracking sound and causing the tube to open and reveal the prizes. It is believed that Christmas Crackers were invented in London around 1847 by a confectioner named Tom Smith who was looking for a way to repackage the candies he sold to increase sales. The hats and prizes were added by his son Walter Smith to further increase sales as other competitors began selling crackers as well. If you are planning on visiting the United Kingdom and are thinking of bringing back any Christmas Crackers, kindly note that the Transportation Security Administration does not allow crackers in carry-on bags or checked luggage on flights to the U.S.

ALUMINUM EX

A petition was filed on October 4, 2023, and an investigation instituted on October 13, 2023, by the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission to greatly expand the antidumping and countervailing duty orders in effect on aluminum extrusions from China to cover products that are now exempt and to add 14 additional countries. The petition was filed by the United Steelworkers Union and the U.S. Aluminum Extruders Coalition. The requested scope of the order is five pages long and covers aluminum extrusions for a wide variety of applications. The list of countries to be included are Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the People's Republic of China ("China"), South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. Importers of aluminum extrusions from the listed countries should follow the progress of this investigation and possibly pursue legal involvement in the proceedings if appropriate.

EU FLAG

The Internal Market and International Trade committees of the European Parliament adopted a draft regulation that would ban the importation and exportation of goods proven to be made with the use of forced labor. Items suspected of being made with forced labor would be halted at the border. If forced labor use is proven, the items would have to be donated, recycled, or destroyed. Any related goods that had already reached the European Union (EU) market would have to be withdrawn from the marketplace. The regulation would also create a list of geographical areas and economic sectors at high risk of using forced labor. For goods from these areas and sectors, there would be a presumption that forced labor was involved and the company attempting to import or export such goods would have the burden of proof to show otherwise. The EU council will review the proposed regulation next and then talks will start over the final shape of the regulation.

SEMICONDUCTOR

On October 25, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published in the Federal Register several updates to its comprehensive interim final rule of October 7, 2022, which amended the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to implement controls on advanced computing integrated circuits (ICs), computer commodities that contain such ICs, and certain semiconductor manufacturing items exported to China. The updates, inter alia, adjust the thresholds for which chips are covered by the regulations, expand licensing requirements to an additional 43 countries included in the D:5 Country Group of the EAR, and add several dozen items to the list of controlled semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Exporters of ICs and semiconductor manufacturing items should thoroughly review the notice and submit any comments to BIS by the December 18, 2023, deadline. The Center for Strategic & International Studies has published a concise summary and commentary on these updates prepared by Emily Benson. A link to this commentary is below.

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