Showing posts from October, 2007

From the News

It is funny how market segments you might not think of as "industries" in and of themselves can sometimes turn into important players in the trade debate. Take, socks, for example. This article discusses the plight of a Canadian company that invested in a sock factory in Honduras in part to take advantage of access to the U.S. market afforded under the CAFTA-DR. Unfortunately for them, there is now a lobbying battle going on over whether socks should be subject to safeguards. Under the safeguard provisions of most free trade agreements, a party can put duties back onto a newly duty-free product if there has been a surge in duty-free imports causing harm to domestic producers. The point of safeguards is to serve as an escape valve for the unintended consequences of free trade agreements. The problem is that imposing safeguards has a negative impact on U.S. investments in Honduran sock factories and also on U.S. cotton growers who supply those factories. This is why tra

C-TPAT Validations in China

Here's news: Customs and Border Protection has finally secured the ability to have its people do C-TPAT validation in China. Until now, CBP has planned to rely on private third parties to conduct the validations. Now, CBP personnel will do it. I'm not sure that there is much practical significance to this but it does alleviate the concern about business proprietary information being in private hands. By the way, for Google purposes, C-TPAT is the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.

Product Safety

Lately, I have lots of conversations about food and product safety. Everyone knows this is a big deal issue. Here is a recent example . It crosses all kinds of interests from child welfare, to public health, to international trade. The question I get is whether it is a Customs law issue. Clearly it is not one of the core legal areas of customs compliance. By that I meaning it does not impact classification, value, duty assessments, etc. But, to the extent you are trying to fill contracts or secure the release of merchandise, any hang up in Customs immediately becomes a "customs law issue." What you need to keep in mind is that Customs and Border Protection is the border enforcement arm for dozens of other government agencies including FDA and CPSC . An importation that is contrary to U.S. law is subject to seizure and forfeiture. That means you might lose your merchandise. There is also the possibility that your entry documents contain material false statement or omissions (


Yesterday, I had to visit a Halloween store to find the all important Ninja Ice Wolf costume. Yes, it is part of the culture of violence in America. Yes, it is far more materialistic than the happy hobo, zombie, or greaser costumes we used to cobble together as a kid. I've decided to lower the bar of my moral outrage and let my principles float. While there, I scoured the shelves looking for festive articles from a customs classification perspective. As far as I am concerned everything in that store is a festive article. Two things struck me as a I wandered among the decapitated ghouls , gravestones, and ghosts: Halloween is far more extreme than when I made the rounds of my neighborhood with my friends and a pillowcase for candy. The gore factor is very much ratcheted up. I guess this is the trickle-down of Hollywood special effects and makeup technology. But it is not just the realism, it is also the context. Look at this picture I took with my cell phone; it depicts a plastic h

Costa Rica Ratifies CAFTA-DR/ Peru Vote

Sunday's vote narrowly passed the CAFTA in Costa Rica. USTR Schwab had this to say on the occasion: The United States welcomes the outcome of the Costa Rican referendum on the free trade agreement that Costa Rica signed with the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States (CAFTA-DR). "We believe, and history confirms, that countries that open their markets have greater success in generating economic growth and development. We are pleased that Costa Rica will be joining the other CAFTA-DR countries in reaping the benefits of greater regional economic integration and market opportunities that the CAFTA-DR provides. "We look forward to working with the Government of Costa Rica as it completes the necessary steps to implement the agreement, so that the CAFTA-DR can enter into force for Costa Rica as soon as possible. Apparently, a Senate vote is scheduled for next week on the proposed U.S.-Peru FTA. The draft agreement has already be

And Now We Wait . . . .

Yesterday, Costa Ricans went to the polls to vote on a referendum on implementing the CAFTA. As we previously discussed, there have been massive demonstrations against the agreement. Let the counting begin. In the meantime, Exxon Mobile and Murphy have given notice of their intention to pursue NAFTA Chapter 11 arbitration against Canada. The issue is interesting because it relates to performance requirements and dovetails with litigation that is still pending in Canada. The basic issue is that the NAFTA originally allowed Canada to continue certain existing performance requirements. However, in 2004, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board imposed certain research requirements or, in the alternative, payments into a fund. Exxon and Murphy claim the new requirements are illegal performance requirements and violate a number of NAFTA provisions including: Article 1106 on performance requirements Article 1108 which prevents the amendment of grandfathered measures to create

Chris Hayes Recants, I Guess

There is still no NAFTA Superhighway. But, Chris Hayes, who wrote a piece on the myth of the superhighway for The Nation, has apparently had second thoughts about the Security and Prosperity Partnership. Here is an exchange on the topic from his blog, which includes a link to his original article. I am not at all sure what to make of it. Even though it goes against my basic anti-conspiracy theory premise, I am putting it here in an effort to continue dialog (or possibly to fill space).

Quick Items

A Mayan statute was seized at O'Hare in Chicago. Here is the NPR story . Birds were recently seized from hunters after a bird flu outbreak in Canada. Bloggers are reporting major anti-CAFTA demonstrations in Costa Rica leading up to the referendum on Oct. 7. Some report marches of as many as 150,000 demonstrators. This Rueters report says 100,000.

Ford Update

The District Court in El Paso has issued a decision denying Ford's motion to dismiss the complaint against it for failing to produce NAFTA backup documents. [I'll post a link when I have one. Feel free to put a link in comments.] Customs and Border Protection had issued an administrative summons to Ford requesting the documents. Ford refused to produce them on the grounds that the documents are not (a)(1)(A) entry documents. Instead, they are backup documents the certifying exporter is required to keep. Ford even pointed to one of CBP's internal manuals, which expressly stated that the importer is not required to keep backup to the CO. I am in London right now and without certain resources I often employ when crafting blog posts. Chief among those is absolute sobriety and sleep. Still, here goes: In administrative law, there is a principle that an agency action should be reviewed based on its underlying actual rationale, not a post-hoc rationale dreamed up by agency counsel