Showing posts from September, 2006

Friday's Questions: Marking

Someone from Germany visited with the following search: "origin country customs marking." Gl├╝cklich zu helfen, Freund. U.S. law requires that all articles of foreign origin imported into the United States be marked with their country of origin. The marking must be permanent and conspicuous. For certain specific articles, Customs has specific marking requirements. This applies, for example, to watches and jewelry in the style of Native American wares. Also, Customs likes to see die cast or etched markings on pipes and the like. Bottom line is that it has to be permanent enough to reach the end user. Deciding on the correct country of origin is tricky. We already discussed NAFTA marking, which is wholly different, so that is not what I am talking about here. The country of origin of goods is generally the country in which the goods originate or last underwent a substantial transformation. So a coconut grown and harvested in Thailand is of Thai origin. No problem. Coconut milk c


Last night I had a close encounter with a spider. Normally, this would not merit any discussion. In most cases, when I find a spider that has taken up residence in my house, I scoop it up and toss it outside to fend for itself. I believe the spider PR that they eat things we like even less than spiders. But this was different. My new roommate was big. Really big. I looked into its eight eyes and I saw no fear. To get this into perspective, we are not talking Clint Eastwood's Tarantula . But, we could easily be talking about an extra from William Shatner's Kingdom of the Spiders. This spider claimed Peter Parker as a dependent on its last tax return. The spider sat in a plastic bin full of toys, mostly of the Play-Doh genre. I could not reach in with a shoe, newspaper, or other suitable blunt instrument as the spider was in a crevice between some containers. So, I did exactly what a third world dictator would do. I gassed the S.O.B. More specifically, I sprayed it with a prod

Friday Q&A

Today I spoke at a seminar put on by the International Trade Club of Chicago . The topic was internal reviews and prior disclosures. Three hours listening to me seems like a lot, but I think it went well enough. I took a new approach on my PowerPoint slides. It is a long story, but I am convinced that in the hands of the unskilled ( like me), PowerPoint can suck the life out of a presentation. I've been doing some reading about this and I tried to emulate Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig today. Basically, I had no bullet points, no charts, no slide transitions, and no fancy fonts; just a few key words for each thought. Anyway, I think it was OK. I'll have to keep practicing the method. We had lots of good questions. Rather than find a search engine phrase for my Friday question, I'll just give you some from the meeting this morning. Why do I have to worry about privilege for an internal review? Because you may not want to turn the results over to Customs

Busy at the Border

Two border stories worth noting: A guy who deserted from the Marine Corp. 40 years ago was arrested driving in from Mexico through the port of San Ysidro. There has been a warrant for his arrest since 1966. Here is the story. If CBP has good enough records to catch this guy, how come they are constantly requesting that importers "reconstruct" entry documents for them? This one is better. It has to be, because it includes the sentence "I've got monkeys in my pants." Here is that story. Apparently, a guy and his buddy were coming into the U.S. through LAX with a trove of banned wildlife and plants. "Buddy" was being searched by Customs when a tropical bird flew out of his backpack. It was at that point that he made the above-referenced confession to monkey smuggling. Seeing this, the other guy bolted from the line along with his own concealed cargo of Asian leopard cubs. From there, the story gets murky. It is clear that the guy made it out of the cust

Search Routine

Sometimes we get into a routine of looking for information a certain way. I know people who strike out with Google and decide that there must be no information available anywhere in the world on the topic. The thought of other search engines, let alone actual books, never enters their mind. Others have the reverse problem. I have friends and relatives who make statements that scream "This can't be true. Google that!" and never think to check for accuracy. My problem is that I often check facts mid-conversation, especially (but not exclusively) while on the phone. No doubt this can be annoying. Which brings me to something I noticed this morning. I may be the last customs professional to have noticed this. Generally, when I visit , I go to two locations. Most often, I click on "Legal" to get to something . . . well, legal. Other times, I go right to CROSS and look for rulings. This morning, my Newsgator aggregator told me there was someth

Friday Question: NAFTA Preference Override

Someone from Italy visited my site this week via the search "NAFTA preference override." I am going to assume that means someone is sitting at a desk in Rome right now trying to make sense of the crazy NAFTA marking rules and, in particular, the NAFTA preference override. I'm here to help, paisano. The first thing to understand is that the regular NAFTA rules of origin are designed only to tell you whether something is originating in North America. They do not tell you what country in North America. Normally, that would not be a big deal. Once you know it is originating, you could just apply the normal substantial transformation rules to figure out how to mark it. But, this is not normally. First, because Canada had a head start on duty reduction under the U.S. Canada Free Trade Agreement, the rates for Canada and Mexico were not always the same. Now, they are in all but a few sensitive products from Mexico. Second, there is a general understanding that Mexico and Canada

Headset Surprise

I have an MP3 player I like quite a bit. It is a 2 GB Samsung Z5 . I wish I had gone with the 4 GB version. I have tried a variety of headphones with it. The earbuds that came in the box sound OK but are slightly too big to be comfortable and secure in my apparently infantile ears. I tried a pair of inexpensive Sony earbuds that came with rubber ends of varying sizes for a better fit. The fit was good, but the sound was not great. Recently, I came into possession of a pair of Shure E3c headphones that cost almost as much as the player. It took me a bit of fiddling to get them to fit properly but once I did, it was a revelation (in the non-liturgical sense). They have excellent outside noise isolation and the sound from the player reveals details and spacing I had never heard away from the pretty decent sound system in my living room. Today, I was unlocking the door to the office while listening to music. OK, it happen to be Neil Diamond singing Cracklin ' Rosie . Leave me alone

Commercial Enforcement

Rumor has it that the new Commissioner is interested in turning up the heat on commercial enforcement. That could mean more requests for information, more audits (including the new Quick Response Audits), and more penalties. It's hard to say what is policy and what is happenstance. But, we have seen increased activity on these fronts. Just to drive the point home a bit, here is a press release from Customs crowing about its enforcement of textile-related enforcement. This is a big deal area for CBP because it represents a significant portion of the total duties owed and U.S. textile producers are a significant and vocal presence on Capitol Hill (as are the retailers and apparel importers with diametrically opposed interests). And, to further prove the point, Customs is announcing the creation of an Office of Trade to consolidate trade-related operations in a single office. The new office, to come into being October 15, will include functions currently held by Field Operations, St

The EPO Noose is Tightenting

In Chicago, where politics is a contact sport, we are used to seeing scandal circle around the target of public suspicion. Sometimes, like with our recently-sentenced-to-prison former governor Ryan, the circle tightens until it ensnares the biggest fish. Sometimes, scandal remains in the air and never lands directly on the most interesting target. That seems to be the case with Mayor Daley who has not been directly implicated in any wrong doing but seems to be in charge of a lot of people who have. There have, for example, been recent public scandals involving the city's hired truck program and the hiring of building inspectors. At the same time, the city is a better place to live and work than it has been in years (maybe ever). Yesterday and today (registration required), The New York Times ran articles that imply through attributed and unattributed sources that EPO doping was a fact of life in the 1999 U.S. Postal Service cycling team that brought Lance Armstrong to the first

Last Bit on Ford

I've read the two CAFC decisions on Ford's penalty cases. You can too, just click here and here . I promised I would comment on them. I lied. I am only going to comment on one issue from 05-1584. It has to do with declaring post-entry price adjustments. Customs tried to hit Ford with a penalty for failing to declare at the time of entry that its values reflected "provisional pricing." That is, at the time of entry, Ford allegedly knew that the price was not final and failed to alert Customs to that fact. The Court of International Trade had previously ruled in 1997 that 19 USC § 1484 requires importers to disclose contract terms that might impact the correct duty calculation. But, the Court went on, no penalty could be assessed because Customs had not provided consistent guidance on this issue and, as a result, importers had no notice of the requirement to report. This comes from United States v. Hitachi Am. Ltd., 964 F. Supp. 344, 387 (CIT 1997). Taking up the issue

OneNote Music

I love Microsoft OneNote. There, I said it. I have written about this for the Chicago Bar magazine, The Record . I am not embarrassed by it. But, apparently, there are people who both love it more and are more talented than me. One of them set his emotions to music. Enjoy it here . Or, not. You may find it somewhat disturbing.

Bold Moves by Ford

I am not picking on Ford. It just happens that it has been the subject of a lot of activity lately and since I am not involved, I can talk about it. Plus, it has been interesting. Note to past Commenter Paul: Feel free to fill in gaps or disagree. The first of the recent Ford cases does not come from the Court of International Trade. Rather it is from the U.S. District Court in Michigan. The case comes out of an action for declaratory judgment Ford filed ahead of Customs suing it in El Paso for recordkeeping violations relating to NAFTA entries. The plaintiff in a declaratory judgment case essentially asks the court to declare its rights relative to the defendant. When allowed, declaratory judgment often takes the wind out of a potential suit and result in settlement. Ford assumes it is going to get sued for failing to produce backup documents supporting NAFTA certificates of origin for goods from a related party in Mexico. It assumes this based on the fact that it has received a mitig

Liquidation, Again

The liquidation issues just keep rolling out of the Court of International Trade. I just read Mukand I nt'l Ltd. It is yet another example of an importer in a dumping case losing its opportunity to challenge the determination because the entries liquidated. Without an injunction, entries may liquidate and the case will be mooted out. I blogged about this recently . The importer had a decent argument that Commerce issued liquidation instructions too early. This was based on another case holding--apparently--that Commerce has to wait long enough to give the importer a chance to file a summons and complaint before issuing liquidation instructions. The problem for the importer in this cases was that it did not get around to requesting an injunction until after the date suggested in the previous case. So, even if that were the law (and it is not clear to me that it is), the importer requested the injunction too late. Two interesting things about the case. First, Judge Gordon

Friday Q&A

A lot of blogs set aside a day for a particular topic. I used to read a blog (before it got boring) that dedicated every Friday to a different philanthropy. Wayla-guy reviews the Sunday New York Times each week. Today, I am going to try and begin a habit of responding directly to search terms used by visitors to this site. These are not exactly questions, but I can generally figure out what was on that visitor's mind. A lot of the search terms are repetitive and won't make for good posts. I am going to skip the most common search which is "customs law." Also, I am going to skip searches related to things I have recently blogged. So, that means I will skip discussing liquidation , the customs broker exam and Stuart Romm's laptop . Also, I will skip anything related to an off-topic post. That eliminates an unexpected number of visitors who have been looking for information on Kris Kristoferson and Felt F3C bicycles. All of which leaves me with . . . Fes