Friday, January 13, 2017

Ruling of the Week 2017.2: Emergency War Material Covers Failed NAFTA Claim

I like this ruling. It is HQ H273101 (Nov. 4, 2016).

This is a case where the importer made a NAFTA claim. When asked by Customs and Border Protection, the importer either could not or just did not support the claim. It happens. Sometimes, subsequent review turns up a problem with the NAFTA documentation. Sometimes, the broker should not have made the claim to start with. Lots of things happen in the real world.

This particular product is a multi-sensor electro-optical surveillance and targeting turret from Canada. As you might imagine, a multi-sensor electro-optical surveillance and targeting turret is a piece of military equipment. When the NAFTA claim failed, the importer asserted that the merchandise is entitled to duty-free entry as war material certified as such by a military procuring agency under HTSUS item 9808.00.30. It submitted the necessary certificates.

Customs liquidated the entry at the applicable 4.5% rate of duty and the importer protested. Customs granted the protest. It noted that in the absence of willful negligence or fraudulent intent, the importer can, prior to liquidation, submit documents to support a claim for free or reduced duties. The regulation that supports this is 19 CFR 10.112. Note that the regulation allows for the documents to be submitted even after liquidation but before the liquidation is final. That is a narrow window of 90 days following liquidation. See 19 USC 1501.

Why do I like this rulings? It is not just because the importer won. It is also because the importer, or its counsel, took a step back from a problem, surveyed its options, and found a creative solution. I also like it because it reaffirms for importers and brokers that the filing of the entry is not necessarily the end of the process. If there is a better option or a way to reduce duties after the entry summary has been filed, go ahead and submit the appropriate documents. There is money to be saved, go save it.

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