Showing posts from October, 2005

Heavens! Some Caviar Imports Banned

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has banned the importation of beluga sturgeon caviar (and meat) originating in the Black Sea basin. This comes as a blow to luxury buyers in the U.S. who have already been suffering with a ban on these products from the Caspian. This move, consistent with the Convention on the International Traffic in Endangered Species , is intended to force the exporting countries to make progress in implementing conservation programs for the endangered fish. Of course, the fact that caviar comes from this fish, might make it less appealing. There is a lovely description of the production process here . It might be more than you want to know that the fish is stunned once by a blow to the head with a wooden club, then stunned again before it is cut open. This ban also covers personal importations with arriving passengers. First, the Concorde is put out of service. Now some beluga caviar is banned. What's next; a tax on polo ponies?

The Death of the Entry?

A lot of what Customs has to do is routine and painfully dull. But, it is important. Think about the thousands of passengers and cargo containers that present absolutely no issues whatsoever. Most people tell the truth when entering the country and most importers properly declare their goods. The tricky part is letting the legitimate trade happen while finding and stopping the bad guys. One of the current trade facilitation projects is the Periodic Monthly Statement under the Automated Commercial Environment. The Periodic Monthly Statement (which is still technically a test program) lets participating importers identify entries and pay Customs for them by the 15th business day of the following month. This creates an interest free loan of up to 45 days for importers. It also simplifies recordkeeping and allows importers to create national or port summaries of activity. Until recently, the only way importers could take advantage of the Periodic Monthly Statement was to have an ACE Portal

Gee, Trade Negotiations Are Confusing

There is lot going on in the lead up to the next meeting in the Doha round of trade negotiations. The U.S. is pushing what it calls the Doha Development Agenda which consists of four components: Agricultural market access (with a limited emphasis on the elimination of subsidies) Industrial products market access Services Trade facilitation While trying to promote this agenda of trade liberalization, the U.S. and other developed countries have to balance the different economic needs of the developing world. There are more than a billion people in the world living in poverty. The Doha agenda includes a mandate that developing countries receive "special and differential treatment" to assist them in more fully integrating into the global economy. These countries can opt for more limited liberalization and longer phase-in periods for changes in trade rules. There are lots of competing interests in these talks. The most obvious friction results from the facts that th

CAFTA-DR Coming Together

It looks like we might have CAFTA by January 1, 2006. The USTR announced that Nicaragua has approved the agreement. Since I am short on words at the moment, here is the entirety of the USTR statement: Statement of USTR Spokesperson Neena Moorjani Regarding Nicaragua’s Passage of CAFTA-DR 10/11/2005 “We congratulate the Nicaraguan government for passing the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement. “They now join El Salvador , Guatemala , Honduras , the Dominican Republic and the United States in approving the CAFTA-DR. "We have met with representatives of the CAFTA-DR governments recently and we are working towards a target date of January 1, 2006, for implementing this agreement. “This agreement levels the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses, expands choices for consumers and strengthens democracies with our neighbors.”

No Bonking Zone

Today was the Chicago Marathon in which 40,000 runners competed either to win, make a new personal record, or just finish. I wasn't there; bad knees , and all. I have personally made a significant contribution to the college funds of the children of several orthopedic surgeons and a raft of physical therapists. That is why I now ride a bike rather than run. But, due to a serious downpour, I did not complete the 100-mile ride I had planned for the end of September. Thus, I am feeling envious of the marathoners who finished today. In particular, that means you, P. P is the runner I turned on to Gu when he decided to train for his first marathon. I think that makes me kind of a legal sugar pusher. He finished today at about 4 hours, 34 minutes. For 26.2 miles, that is something to be proud of. For those of you who don't know, Gu is a concentrated carbohydrate gel. When competing in endurance events, Gu comes in very handy to prevent the dreaded and embarrassing bonk . Runners an

Blackberry Whine

Here is a U.S.-Canada battle worth watching. Research in Motion, the makers of the ubiquitous and, for some, essential Blackberry wireless e-mail and phone devices has been sued for patent infringement. The U.S. patent holder, NTP, sued RIM for infringing patents relating to its software for transmitting e-mail. RIM's main argument is that its servers are located in Ontario (that's Canada, not California ), which is a separate sovereign country where U.S. patent laws are not in effect. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which also hears appeals from the Court of International Trade, was not swayed by the border argument. The most recent opinion is here . The news media now reports that the Federal Circuit has denied RIM's request for en banc review by the entire 12-member court. RIM faces the possibility of an injunction against sales or operations in the U.S., which, according to the New York Times , is 70% of its revenue. Two interesting things are bound

Twinkies, Anyone?

There are blogs I check now and again and one I am reading start to finish. The former category includes blogs to which I have linked on the right. The latter blog is called The Real-Life Twinkie Experiment . It purports to be the experiences of an identical twin who switched lives with her 2L law student sister. It is well written and entertaining. Thus, I am fairly convinced it is a work of fiction. But, the depiction of the law school experience is pretty compelling if a bit overly dramatic.

No Protesting NAFTA, Really!

For years, Customs has said that importers can't seek a refund of duties paid on NAFTA-originating merchandise via standard refund. The reason for this is that if the importer failed to make a claim at the time of entry and Customs liquidates it accordingly, it made no mistake that can be challenged. At least that has been Customs' take on the question. If you want a post-entry refund, you need to apply for it via a request for reliquidation under 19 U.S.C. § 1520(d). These requests must be filed within one year of the date of importation. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now had the opportunity to weigh in on this in a case called Xerox Corp.Vv. United States . Xerox filed protests to seek NAFTA refunds and Customs denied all but one of the protests finding them to be untimely. This is because all but one of the protests was filed more than a year after the date of entry. Customs treated the remaining protest as a request for reliquidation. The Federal Circuit

Help Wanted

Anyone looking for a policy job who is willing to relocate to DC should send a resume to the President of the United States. Customs Commissioner Bonner has announced his intention to retire. I'm not sure what the job pays but I'm guessing it comes with decent benefits. You probably also get a pretty high security clearance, lots of opportunity for travel, and a big staff. On the downside, you are near the top of the food chain with respect to Homeland Security. If anything breaks bad via a U.S. port of entry or an immigrant, it will not look good on your resume. Plus, you need to be sure to keep Congress happy. That can't be easy, or fun.