Friday, September 12, 2008

Lacey Act Article

I've been in the Pacific Time Zone this week. Although it would be nice to say that I was surfing, sunning, and sailing, I was actually working. Still, it is always refreshing to see a palm tree and an ocean.

Speaking of palm trees, I did a piece on the Lacey Act amendments for the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. I don't have too many details in the article, but I think this is important stuff. If you've been visiting this blog for any length of time, you know I tend to focus on the big picture and assume the details will get worked out in the trenches. So, the fact that I am actually worried about this one should mean something.

Personally, I think this is a bigger deal than the proposed uniform rules of origin.


Jim Dickeson said...


I don't think "common cultivars" is even defined. I see the possibility of many seemingly benign items being swept up in this: paper products, buttons on sweaters, tokens in board games, even food products with additives derived from wood. And it it not the origin of the substantially transformed finished good, but where the tree had grown. Importers aren't going to know this. I doubt that their suppliers will even know this.

Also, the reason for the paper reporting is that responsibility for enforcement will fall to the USDA. The USDA does not interface electronically with Customs ABI (as does FDA and FCC). This means that impacted entries cannot go paperless, which in turn means that these entries will be ineligible for remote filing, which means that a lot of importers may be having to seek new brokers in remote ports.

By the way, that document you linked to is over 10 meg. That is simply too massive for the masses on the internet. Even though I pulled it to my hard drive, something about it makes it ridiculous to scroll through. Can you complain to the NCBFAA?

Larry said...


Thanks for the comment. The issue with electronic reporting is apparently primarily budgetary. As you point out, other agencies interface electronically with CBP. USDA could do so as well. But, there needs to be sufficient resources alocated to the effort, plus time. Neither is presently available to accomplish electronic reporting.

It's true that the sweep of this legislation is vast. Just think about buying a suit on a wooden hanger. Do you think the clothing importer knows the species and origin of the wood in the hanger (oh, and maybe the buttons as well)? It is entirely possible that the hanger manufacturer purchased the wood from a middleman and cannot certify its origin, let alone that the wood was harvested legally. So, the hanger manufacturer needs the middleman to to go to its supplier, which may or may not have been the original processor. It's pretty crazy.

As with many other recent initiatives, I have to ask "Who wanted this? Who decided that this served a useful purpose?" I assume it has to do with the domestic lumber and wood products industries.

Lastly, you are correct about the NCBFAA document. I have no idea why that issue is 10 x the size of previous issues. I'll see what I can find out.

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the article was very cool for me, i really didn't understand some things but they are really understandable if you read carefully.