Showing posts from April, 2006

Interesting NAFTA Reading

Note from Larry: I edited the post below to add some links. I originally wrote it on the fly but now feel like it is not very informative without references to the source material . There is not a lot of caselaw on NAFTA. There are a few cases on whether something does or does not qualify. I have been involved in a couple of those. There was also some litigation over whether the NAFTA was properly passed and whether it is constitutional. Those cases tend to be more interesting in an academic sense than for any practical impact. In that vein, I feel a little bad for Judge Pogue who issued a very thorough opinion over a very technical aspect of NAFTA and trade law. The case is Canadian Lumber Trade Alliance v. United States, Slip Op. 06-48 (Apr. 7, 2006 ). The reason I feel bad is that he obviously put a lot of effort into the opinion, but it really has limited impact. In a nutshell (Note to West , I am using that in the generic sense), the case involves a provision of the NAFTA

Prurient Customs Interest

I have had complaints that my postings are too dull; I need to spice this space up a bit. Generally, I am the source of those complaints. So, I don't listen to myself. But, here is a customs-related tid bit of minor prurient interest. A super model has been denied entry to the U.S. This is really an immigration issue and I don't know much about immigration. But, CBP now has jurisdiction, so I'll toss you super model stalkers and immigration lawyers a bone. For what it is worth, I have never heard of this woman. I previously covered the Kate Moss immigration issue . Maybe I am developing a side practice representing super models who can't get into the country.

The Disaster on Bloor

I am in Toronto today. I always like visiting here. It is a very cosmopolitan city with great restaurants and terrific cultural venues. Of course, I am here on business so I won't see much of that. What I did see was a major addition going on at the Royal Ontario Museum. I swear when I first saw it, I though the building was in the middle of demolition. It looks for all the world like rubble from a tornado. I actually approached it the same way I approached Ground Zero in November of 2001. When done, it will look like this and this . While right now it just looks scary. I have faith that, in the end, it will be stunning and will be adopted by the city as a symbol of Toronto. How do I know that? Because I live in Chicago (well, close to Chicago) and work in close proximity to the new Frank Gehry Millennium Park pavilion. While it was going up, I grumbled about it; declaring it "gimmicky" and saying that it would never look finished. I was wrong. See for yourself here

Measure for Measure

It often surprises my colleagues when I say that I find classification to be one of the most interesting areas of customs law. The way I look at it, complex classification is a puzzle. There are very specific rules set out in the General Rules of Interpretation and the Section and Chapter Notes. In my opinion, the Explanatory Notes tend to muck things up, but that is a different story. The thing about classification is that there can only be one right answer. Even if you get to the point where you are opting for the last classification in numerical order, you are still following the rules. So getting to the right answer is like doing a sudoku puzzle. You need to figure out the possible answers and test them out against the rules. If a Note pops up that conflicts, you have it wrong. I'm thinking about this because I read in the latest Customs Bulletin (look at page 24), that CBP is modifying some rulings on the classification of steel measuring spoons . It strikes me

Happy Anniversary

This blog has occupied its quiet corner of cyberspace for a year. It started as research for my column in the CBA Record and took on a life of its own. Let's see where we end up. I'll try and post regularly. I'll try and post about customs law more often than not. From you, I'd appreciate a bit of help. Drop me a comment or an e-mail when I touch on something of interest to you. Let me know when I completely whiff on some news you want to know about. I'll do my best to be interesting, helpful, and occasionally entertaining.

Riding with DHS

Edited for typos . . . Customs has recovered a motorcycle stolen in 1971 and is returning it to its owner. It also recently recovered a Corvette stolen in 1969. By themselves, these stories are amusing and heart warming. Sort of like reuniting a geek with his 1977 Ohio Scientific Challenger C-1P computer . Ahh, the memories! Four K of memory, a Radio Shack cassette tape for storage, and a Sears black & white TV for a monitor. But, Customs' good deeds reminded me of something I planned to blog months ago. I was driving in the south, scanning the radio hoping to hear the soothing voice of Terry Gross or the far less soothing Nina Totenberg. Apparently, NPR had not penetrated into this market. Eventually, I gave up and just listened to whatever was on. What I heard was a piece of C&W drivel called Riding with Private Malone by David Ball. I have no interest in country music. This is not an urban elitist prejudice. I also have no interest in hip hop (apologies t

Sometimes, the Most Important Question is "Why?"

Sometimes, people do crazy, stupid things. Often, there is a plausible excuse for acting poorly. Sometimes not. But, if you are going to act out, it seems like there should be a really good reason. Maybe you need cash to feed your hungry kids or your crime is a political protest. Maybe you are just addle-brained by some psychoactive force like testosterone or alcohol. Whatever, just have something to say at the sentencing. Otherwise, you will look foolish. Now, explain this crime to me. Some guy in a Chevy pickup truck tried to smuggle two wallabies out of Texas into Mexico. This is a crime under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species . But, so what? I want to know who ordered up the wallabies. Were they going to be dinner for some eccentric Mexican? Perhaps wallaby mole with ancho peppers and pomegranate seeds. Were they going to become pets for the Mexican equivalent of the King of Pop? Are wallaby fights eclipsing cock fights as back-alley entertainment i

Colombia, El Salvador & NAFTA, In One Post

See what happens when I get busy? I get behind on interesting things. Here are three: U.S. Moves to Protect Colombian Cultural Property Museum lawyers, take note: Customs issued a Federal Register notice adding certain Colombian pre-colombian and ecclesiastical period (1530-1830) artifacts to the list of property protected under the UNESCO Convension on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property . Under the convention, Colombia claims "patrimony" of these artifacts as part of its cultural heritage and unauthorized traffic in these products will be prohibited. Retroactive CAFTA-DR Textiles Claims Under the CAFTA-DR, duty preferences are retroactively applicable for certain textile products entered on or after January 1, 2004 when the Office of the USTR makes a determination that the goods are eligible. USTR has done that for El Salvador and Customs published a Federal Register notice saying that cla