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Showing posts from November, 2007

News Review: Excellent Article on Myth of the NAU

My groundbreaking work debunking the myth of the North American Union has, once again, been snubbed. Nevertheless, this article by Drake Bennett of the Boston Globe is excellent. The author not only discusses the facts but also the political and social reasons that the myth persists and is gaining traction. While we're at it, David Brook's recent New York Times piece covered similar ground and, more important, took a much needed pot shot at Lou Dobbs. Finally, here is more on the great Honduran sock debate.

Counterfeit News of Interest

Customs and Border Protection is responsible for preventing the importation of counterfeit merchandise. This news item from CBP says it recently intercepted a shipment of 20,000 fake "Coach" belts from China in Seattle. Clearly, the holidays will be less bright for the fashion conscious bargain hunter this year. Which, by the way, is as it should be. A more interesting story is this piece from the New York Times. Famous luxury merchant Tiffany has sued famous online auctioneer eBay to force eBay to get counterfeit merchandise off its web site. This creates some interesting questions concerning eBay's role in the transactions. eBay argues, I'm paraphrasing here, that it just provides a communication channel connecting buyers and sellers. The way eBay sees it, the seller is liable to Tiffany, not eBay. Tiffany, of course, disagrees. Among other things, it points out that eBay profits from the sale of fake merchandise on its site. Assume that eBay is held l

Two-fer Tuesday

This goes in the customs news of the weird category : Customs and Border Protection stopped a driver on the southern border attempting to illegally enter a U-Haul full of cheese and two parrots. Upon being pulled over for secondary inspection, the driver readily confessed to smuggling the merchandise. One must wonder (at least I must), if the two categories of contraband are somehow related? Do the birds like the cheese? Were the parrots destined to become part of some nasty domestic bird pannini ? We can only hope the Department of Agriculture tells us the details. This goes in the category of proof that I may not be that bright: I have not been on my bike in a while, a long while. Recently, I bought a new trainer so I can pedal in my basement through the dark and cold winter. Two nights ago I decided it was time to get on the bike. That's smart. The not-so-smart part is that I made that decision immediately after dinner, which consisted of a burrito and (uncharacteristically

Cool Hand Customs

Sometimes the law turns on the strangest of details. Samuel Aaron, Inc. v. United States , a Federal Circuit decision affirming the Court of International Trade is a good example. The issue here was whether protests were timely filed. The case is more complicated than most because the relevant liquidation was a reliquidation and the only notice of reliquidation was an off-line binder in the customhouse that was separate from the normal binder of printouts generated by ACS. Later, after generating bills for unpaid duties, Customs placed ACS notices in the binder of bulletin notices. What we have here is a first liquidation notice separate from the electronic status report, separate from the paper courtesy notice, separate from the binder of regular liquidation notices, and then a second notice in the regular binder with an icorrect reliquidation date. Is that a failure to communicate ? The Court of International Trade dismissed the plaintiff's challenge to its denied protest findi

Is Customs Working Too Hard?

Look at this story . The thing about having a job to do as a professional is the ability to exercise discretion. Digging ditches is an honorable profession. But ditch diggers rarely get to decide how deep or wide to dig. They follow directions and do what is required for the particular job. It is left to some engineer to determine what this particular ditch needs to look like. To some extent the same goes for Customs and Border Protection. There are times when the "by the book" or "just following procedure" approach does not make sense. One example is the story noted above where a fire engine from Quebec was trying to enter New York to keep a building from burning down. CBP ran the vehicle and the firefighters through the normal process and held the truck up for 8 minutes. Apparently, one of the firefighters had a criminal record. OK, that makes sense if he was in a Winnebago with a bunch of frat boys and a keg. But this was a firetruck responding to a fire. I

Customs & Border Protection at Work

More on the international trade importance of socks . It seems CBP intercepted Chinese socks transshipped through Ghana. The socks not only avoided quantitative restrictions but also claimed benefits under AGOA. Breaking up a scheme right out of a 1960's sitcom, CBP found a man in a suitcase in the back of a car crossing in from Mexico. Finally, Customs arrested a man entering the U.S. from Canada who is wanted on an Interpol warrant for war crimes in Croatia . The strange thing about this arrest is that the guy was driving a tractor-trailer bound for Florida carrying what I assume was a commercial shipment of recreational benches and soap. I assume he was working in Canada as a trucker.

NAFTA Expansion?

The House voted on the Peru Free Trade Agreement yesterday. There is a lot of campaign season politics involved in this vote. The Senate still needs to pass the bill before the agreement can be implemented. That's fine. There are so many FTA's now that the passage of a new one is of little note as far as the trade community is concerned. What I find interesting is the number of people, mostly bloggers, who insist on calling new free trade deals--particularly in the Americas--an expansion of NAFTA. See here , here , and here . Its not true. NAFTA is a free-standing deal as are the deals with the CAFTA-DR group and the pending agreements with Columbia and Panama. The main reason this is not an expansion of the NAFTA is that for companies wanting to take advantage of the NAFTA and also CAFTA, for example, the Canadian and Mexican content counts against them. The Peru agreement, if passed, will require that merchandise originate in the U.S. or Peru. The rules of origin

On Bismarck and Brokers

Otto von Bismarck is reported to have said "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." Clear evidence of that is Senate Bill 2045 . This bill, introduced in September by Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas is intended to sure up consumer product safety by reforming the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Section 15 of the bill states: Section 17 (15 U.S.C. 2066) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following: (i) The Commission may-- (1) designate as a repeat offender, after notice and an opportunity for a hearing, any person found by the Commission to have committed multiple violations of subsection (a); and (2) refer any such person to United States Customs and Border Protection with a recommendation that the person's import license be terminated in accordance with that agency's procedures. The subsection (a) referred to is the provision that allows Customs to refuse admission into the United States of merchandise that does not comply w

Customs News of the Weird

Shopping cart crime . Apparently, the aftermarket for Home Depot shopping carts in the Caribbean is robust enough to spawn their theft and smuggling out of the U.S. Edwards confused on the borders of North America . According to John Edwards, NAFTA has caused the recent flood of unsafe toys from China. I'm not sure why that would be given that China is a long way from North America. Colbert on the North American Union . Great fun and actual information. I can't and don't vouch for anything else on the linked page.

Heartland Cleanup

Heartland By-Products is one of those cases that seems to never quite end. The basic facts are that Heartland wanted to import sugar syrup from Canada to the U.S. and sought to arrange its manufacturing in a way that avoided the potential high rate of duty for out of quota shipments. To make sure it had engineered its process properly, it requested and received a ruling from Customs that its product was not subject to quota. Following the ruling, Heartland started importing sugar syrup. Apparently, the U.S. industry did not appreciate this plan and it asked CBP to reconsider. CBP obliged and eventually revoked the ruling. Seeking to prevent the revocation ruling from becoming final, Heartland went to the Court of International Trade for a declaratory judgment that the revocation was invalid. This happened under 28 U.S.C. 1581(h), which gives the CIT jurisdiction to review negative prospective customs rulings if the importer can show the ruling will cause irreparable harm. Thi