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Showing posts from January, 2007

Radio Update

Here is a link to the radio broadcast . It is a very big MP3 file of the show (1 hour long). Overall, I am happy with the discussion. There was a diversity of views on trade and good calls from the audience. Obviously, there are lots of issues involved and it is difficult to separate one's own job situation from the bigger economic picture. I think we could have talked for another couple hours. Maybe there is room for a followup show.

Larry on the Radio

I know this is short notice, but . . . . I'll be a guest on Archdiocese Radio WCSN 820 AM on Monday January 29th from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM. The topic for discussion is "Free Trade: Good for Americans? Good for the Poor?" After the show is broadcast, it will be available as a podcast and I'll provide a link.

Is the 2007 HTSUS Rate Neutral?

I have a tendency to assume that everyone has the big ticket items covered. I have not, therefore, been running around screaming about the impending deadline for implementing the 2007 changes to the HTS. Most everyone I have spoken to is aware of the changes and is working diligently to update databases. For the record, the new tariff schedule goes live February 3 and Customs and Border Protection expects everyone to have it implemented by February 20. The tariff schedule is an extremely odd beast. It is statutory in nature in that it fits in the U.S. Code at 19 U.S.C. sec. 1202 . Unfortunately, if you click the link you will discover that this section of code is blank. That is because the tariff schedule migrated out of the U.S. Code and into a separate International Trade Commission publication. If you want to check the HTSUS online, you go here . Making it even odder, Congress does not really get involved in the process of drafting the vast majority of the document. Rather, the U.

University of Dallas, What Up?

Suddenly, I am getting a bunch of visitors from the University of Dallas. It appears that a posting on this blog is being used as part of a course. That's great, I'm happy to be of help. I am, however, curious about the class. Could someone please drop me a comment or note and let me know what's going on?

Welcome to the EU, Sorry About GSP

Bulgaria and Romania are now members of the European Union. Being part of the EU means these countries are no longer eligible for benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences. Here is the Federal Register notice to prove it. If you have been importing from Bulgarian or Romanian suppliers and claiming GSP, make sure that your broker knows to stop. More important, make sure you have recalculated your total landed cost. It may be that the loss of GSP makes new supplier relations advantageous. The more important thing to keep in mind is that Customs and Border Protection seems to have made GSP a compliance focus. Customs seems to believe that importers are not always entirely scrupulous about confirming the supplier's assertion that the goods qualify for GSP. Keep in mind, that means 35% of the value added qualifies as originating in the beneficiary developing country and that the merchandise is shipped directly from the BDC. Exactly what an importer needs to do to

Comment on Zoellick's AAFTA and a New Link

I've added a link to the new-ish International Economic Law and Policy Blog . The blog is the collective work of a number of leading academics in the trade arena including my occassional guest lecturer Todd Weiler (who may be the hardest working lawyer doing NAFTA arbitration work). His site NAFTAclaims.com is invaluable to those interested in the topic. The blog includes an excerpt from former USTR Zoellick's WSJ op-ed piece advocating an association of existing western hemisphere free trade agreements. Essentially, this seems like a way to pour the old FTAA into a slightly new decanter. Rather than negotiate a new deal, Zoellick's idea is to forge links between the existing agreements. As a political matter, this seems like a dubious prospect. The current congressional leadership appears to be very sceptical of free trade either as a matter of economic philosophy or political strategy. Either way, the idea of an AAFTA seems unlikely to get much political traction. Is

NAFTA Upside Down

It is good that Customs and Border Protection publishes information to help the public engage in informed compliance. Really, that is a good thing. The trade and those who serve the trade appreciate it. But, sometimes they use publications to promote a specific legal agenda. Usually, that is made clear in the documents. Other times, CBP does things that just look sneaky. CBP just put out this handy document and an attachment to help people decide when it is appropriate to claim NAFTA preferential treatment. To me, this looks sneaky. The problem is that it completely muddles the question of who is responsible for the accuracy of NAFTA claims. Is it the importer or the producer/exporter? Admittedly, the importer must use reasonable care in making the claim. So, an importer should reject a facially false certificate. If the importer has reason to suspect the certificate of origin is incorrect for some reason, it should take reasonable steps to verify it. But, the producer/expo

Annual Check Up

The start of a new year is a good time for a quick internal review. Here are some thoughts on things to consider. Trust me, this is not an audit plan. It is more like a draft menu for a compliance buffet. Broker Relations Who has a power of attorney from you? Are there POAs that should be revoked? Are there any that expired and need to be re-executed? Was the service from my brokers satisfactory for the cost? Is there a clear channel for communicating to the broker prior to the first import of new merchandise? Entry Processing Grab three random entries from each month of 2006. That's a total of 36 entries. For the first line item of each entry, do the following: Confirm the HS classification. Don't just check your parts database. Instead, get a sample, picture, drawing or spec and look at the classification fresh. Have you properly applied all the relevant General Rules of Interpretation, Section and Chapter notes? Is you conclusion consistent with Customs and Border Protecti

This Seems Wrong

Boing Boing , possibly the second best blog in the world, linked to this Reuters news story about a college student who was arrested in the airport in Philadelphia when a search of her bags turned up three condoms filled with a white powder. This does not involve CBP or the customs laws, but stick with me. The student spent three weeks in jail while Philly police determined that the white powder was flour and that it was all a big funny joke. Upon her release, the student sued the City of Brotherly Love for violating her civil rights. The City settled for $180,000. My only thought on this is that there should be some kind of offset from the settlement for being stupid and causing your own trouble. If I stand on the corner of State and 16th Street here in Chicago (not far from Police HQ), and sell small plastic bags of white powder to passing motorists, two things should happen. First, the buyers should come back and kick my sorry tail when they find out the bags contain sugar.

More on the North American Union

I am not particularly interested in writing political commentary. My previous gasp of frustration about the alleged conspiracy to trade away the U.S. in favor of a North American Union should stand as an exception to that rule. I want this blog to help readers deal with real business issues involving customs and trade law compliance. That said, this issue irks me. Those who see a plan to form a NAU are misrepresenting important business inititatives aimed at improving regional competitiveness and security and are taking academic discussions to be governmental policy. It's all crap. A rational voice on this in Michael Medved , a film critic and right-leaning commentator with whom I would likely disagree on most questions of actual policy. The issue here, however, is not about an actual policy. Rather, it is about identifying those who are either lying to create fear for their personal or political gain or who are truly misinformed. OK, I hope I am done with this. It's a new

Interesting Articles

First, from today's New York Times comes an op-ed piece in which the writers argue that it is time to repeal the Merchant Marine Acts, which limit coastwise shipping to American flag vessels built in the United States. The authors suggest that this has effectively reduced the the attractiveness of shipping as a means of transport within the U.S. and leads to energy waste and lost transit time at higher costs. This article , from the St. Petersburg ( Florida ) Times explains how Customs and Border Protection mis -allocated so-called Byrd Amendment funds to shrimpers on the Gulf Coast. In one case, a shrimper who should was expecting $210,000 received a check for $2.1 million. It appears that CBP processed the requests without much review. The honest person who received the erroneous refund returned it to CBP , which has now commenced an audit of the refund process. Too bad the Byrd Amendment turned out to be illegal about a dozen different ways (e.g., WTO , NAFTA , free speech