Showing posts from December, 2006

NAFTA Conspiracies: All Smoke No Fire

Sorry, I have to do this. I use Google Alerts to keep up on NAFTA related news. A large portion of what I get relates to the impending merger of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico into a North American Union and the resultant loss of the American way of life. Go to YouTube and search for video relating to the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. Watch videos relating to the North American Union. You will find the shameful and shameless Lou Dobbs fomenting fear and resentment with a non-story relating to the loss of America to a European Union-style North American meta-nation. This is all supposed to happen before 2010. If you watch these videos and read the equally uninformed web sites and blogs decrying the NAU, one thing quickly becomes clear: although it seems very important to them, these people do not have the faintest idea what sovereignty means. That includes Lou Dobbs who uses a position of media power to whip up strong emotions in well meaning patriotic Ameri

Where is Mandatory AES?

International Trade Today, put out by Broker Power, Inc., ran an interesting piece on December 19 th in which Census sources indicated that the final rule on the mandatory use of the electronic Automated Export System (AES) for filing export documents remains a goal for the future. Census claims it will make a push for adoption of the electronic system in 2007 and will encourage large paper filers to make the switch voluntarily. More ominous, Broker Power reports that Census is going to begin "visits" to AES users. These visits will be used to determine the procedures in place at compliant companies and to "assist" those in need of compliance improvements. That assistance might include referral of violations to the relevant agency (i.e., Custsoms, BIS, or State). AES filing is something everyone will have to get used to--eventually. You may as well get started on a voluntary basis. At least look at the online training tools .

It's NAFTA Time: Free Gifts!

Here, have a NAFTA CO . The start of a new year is always exciting for the folks responsible for maintaining NAFTA compliance. Same goes for all the other new free trade agreements. That is because everyone is scrambling to get NAFTA certificates of origin from suppliers. Or, you might be one of those unfortunate people getting your arm twisted by a customer who wants a NAFTA CO yesterday. Here are a couple tips. At the end of this post, I'll give you a free tool to help. I promise. Tip Number 1: Tell Your Broker What is Going On Most NAFTA COs will expire December 31. If you are an importer who is used to claiming NAFTA status for your merchandise and don't have a replacement CO, you can't make the claim on January 1. Remember, NAFTA works on the assumption that you have a valid CO in your hand at the time of the claim. The other FTAs are a little different in this regard, but just go with me here. So, if you don't let your broker know that Acme Tools of Tijuana d

Pres. Signs GSP and other Trade Measures

So GSP survives for another 2 years with some new restrictions on Competitive Needs Limits. The restrictions are supposed to help the lesser developed of the beneficiary developing countries benefit from GSP as opposed to the larger economies like Brazil, India, and Thailand. One has to wonder how that is going to work. It seems more likely that if those countries lose GSP either for certain commodities or entirely, that trade will most likely shift to China rather than, say, Nepal, Columbia or Benin. I'll let my day job do the talking on this one: click here . Sorry for taking the lazy way out.

Bird Lovers Nabbed at Border

Update: I fixed this link so that it points to the relevant story. There is not much to say about this story . It is illegal to fail to declare merchandise entering the U.S. That includes live birds. And, if you go to Canada just to purchase 25 pounds of bird seed, expect to be searched.

Counterfeits in Court

An interesting case involving allegedly counterfeit goods came out of the CIT last week. The merchandise involved was PDA accessories including chargers and keyboards. Lots of goods issues were raised including one of my favorites: how is Customs supposed to determine the manufacturer's suggested retail price of counterfeit goods? Another issue was whether it is possible to counterfeit the "flying Windows" mark on a keyboard or--as plaintiff maintained--is using that mark protected "fair use" because it is effectively a requirement for all Windows based keyboards. Unfortunately, these meaty issues were not resolved because Judge Stanceu dismissed the case on procedural grounds. In summary, the Court found there was no valid protest of the exclusion of the merchandise. Thus, there was no jurisdiction under 1581(a). The Court also found no jurisdiction under 1581(i) because the restriction on the importation of counterfeit goods is not an embargo under 19 USC sec

The Fruits of International Trade

What the heck is this? It made its way to the produce department in my grocery store but it was not labeled. On top are kiwis; below are prickly pears. That ugly thing in the middle may or may not be edible. Whatever it is, I can almost guarantee that it is here as a result of international trade and I bet it passed through Customs.

Softwood Lumber Ends

Not with a bang, but with a whimper . Read about it via the CBC here . With a few more details, the story is this: The Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports had challenged the NAFTA Chapter 19 dispute resolution process as violating the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately for this interesting claim, in October the U.S. and Canada entered into a settlement of the softwood lumber dispute. As a result, there was no controversy before the Court to decide and the Court dismissed the action as moot. You can read that here . Want to know why Chapter 19 might be unconstitutional? I have no idea what the parties to the actual case were arguing. But, I can tell you the argument most commonly raised. It has to do with the appointments clause of the Constitution. Article II, Section 2 gives the President the power to appoint "Judges of the supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States . . . ." This extends to all so-called Article III judges. Prior to NAFTA, antidumpi

Friday Travel

I was trying to post more regularly, and I will continue to do so. Today, I was traveling and not able to do it until now. At this point, I want nothing more than to vent and to invest in anyone working to perfect the Star Trek style transporter thus eliminating the need for cars and planes. It is cold here in Chicago. Thus, I was not at all happy when I found myself at 6:00 AM, in five degrees of cold, in the dark, on the side of the Edens Expressway (at Peterson for the locals), with a flat. I was headed to O'Hare to catch a 7:00 plane. This, it turns out, was not a pull-into-the-nearest-gas station-for-air-and-limp-to-the-airport kind of flat. No, it was a gaping-hole-in-the-sidewall, riding-on-the-rim kind of flat. I have no earthly idea what happened. There was no way I was driving on this thing. If I were either Starsky or Hutch, I would assume that someone shot out my rear wheel. Keep in mind, I was going to visit a client and was (as the client later put it),

Simon Says, Wait for a Release

Customs just announced beefed up penalties for taking your merchandise before it is officially released. That sounds like a crazy thing, but it happens. Usually, this is the fault of the carrier or broker trying to look like a hero by getting the goods to you. After all, it is not often that the importer actually shows up at the port to pick up the goods. The penalties are pretty substantial. Here is the gist of it (which are published in the guise of "mitigation guidelines"): A first violation may be mitigated upon payment of an amount equal to the lesser of: 1) 75% of the domestic value of the merchandise, removed or delivered without authorization and/or examination, or 2) a flat sum between $10,000 and $25,000, as determined at CBP ’s sole discretion. A second violation may be mitigated upon payment of an amount equal to the lesser of: 1) 75% of the domestic value of the merchandise, removed or delivered without authorization and/or examination, or 2) a flat sum