Showing posts from December, 2009

Here's the deal

I don't moderate comments. I don't get enough to worry about and almost all have been on point and respectful. I've noticed that I am attracting a few more spammy comments and at least on company that sells a NSFW product has posted numerous spam comments. For now, I am going to leave the situation alone. Rather than moderate comments, I'll assume everyone understands that anonymous comments don't come from me. If it does get worse, I'll move to moderating comments. Unless anyone can tell me whether I can block comments from a specific visitor in Blogger. That would be the better solution.

Eye on Trade

Over at Public Citizen's Eye on Trade blog, they are complaining that CAFTA has no means by which the US can eject a country that has undertaken some anti-democratic action, failed to adopt the rule of law, or otherwise misbehaved. The blog compares that to AGOA, a program in which the President has exactly that power. Recently, Niger, Guinea, and Madagascar lost AGOA benefits following undemocratic transfers of power . Why not, Public Citizen wonders, do the same under CAFTA where Honduras has had a similar experience. The reason is that AGOA, GSP, and other unilateral preference programs belong to the United States. The US made the rules and can kick out a country that fails to satisfy the rules. CAFTA, like NAFTA and the other bilateral or multilateral trade agreements, are different. The rules were negotiated between and among the parties. Since no one will agree to negotiate and implement a trade agreement from which they might be ejected, the agreements contain no suc

Docket Clearing

As the 2009 winds down, the Court of International Trade appears to be clearing its collective desk. Storewall, LLC v. United States involves the classification of wall panels used as store display systems. The panels are made of plastic and affix to a wall via a plastic locator tab. The panels are grooved to accept shelves, baskets, and other display items. The importer claims that the merchandise is classifiable as furniture in Heading 9403, while Customs asserts that the correct classification is as articles of plastic in Heading 3926. The problem for the plaintiff is that Chapter 94 Note 2 defines furniture as something designed to be placed on the floor or ground. The display systems mount on a wall. But, the note contains an exception for items designed "to be hung, to be fixed to the wall or to stand one on the other." That exception is intended to cover "cupboards, bookcases, other shelved furniture and unit furniture." The wall-mounted panels are cl

The Oracle Says: Confirm it in Writing

This case follows in the footsteps of the decision in Aectra Refining and involves the question of what is necessary to perfect a claim for drawback. In this case, the claim was for the drawback of the Harbor Maintenance Tax and the Merchandise Processing Fee. It is also a good life lesson about the importance of the confirming memos we lawyers use to get things on paper (real or virtual) when others are content to leave them un-memorialized. As background, you need to understand that in Aectra, the plaintiff did not claim drawback on MPF and HMT because, at the time of the initial claim, the law did not support the drawback-ability of those fees. Following a Federal Circuit decision in Texport Oil Co., the law provided for drawback of MPF but not HMT. Congress made HMT eligible for drawback in 2004 and retroactively applicable to pending claims. The specific issue in Aectra was whether Aectra’s protest was enough to establish a claim for drawback of HMT and MPF that was not assert

The Graceful Injunction

Agro Dutch Industries is technically a dumping case, but it deals with the issue of the impact of liquidation by Customs and Border Protection, so I will deal with it here. This case involves the review of the dumping order covering preserved mushrooms from India. Commerce issued its determination and Agro sought to challenge it. To preserve its rights, Agro moved for an injunction with the consent of the United States. The injunction was necessary to prevent Customs from liquidating the entries. The general rule is that once liquidation happens, there is no relief available and the case is moot. So, the injunction was important and both sides knew it. In the background is the fact that Agro waited beyond the allowed 30 days to seek the injunction, but that provides context more than anything else. At the request of the government, the injunction included a five day grace period before it became effective. The grace period was intended to prevent Customs people from accidentally

Seeing Hypocrisy

Often, I disagree with a position adopted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. That is the nature of my job. Sometimes I am right, sometimes, I am wrong, and often reasonable minds may differ. What I don't do is see everything that CBP does through the lens of Washington policy makers. That is primarily a result of years of experience dealing with the agency and also my Midwestern practicality. Rarely do I see any coordinated conspiracies. For example, there was a lot of hubbub a while back about a CBP proposal that would have effectively banned the importation of a category of pocket knives that have spring assisted opening mechanisms but have not heretofore been classified as illegal switchblades. Some people believed this to be a stealth effort by the Obama administration to slowly limit personal rights which would ultimately result in the repeal of the Second Amendment and the loss of gun rights for all Americans. I seriously doubt that. In fact, I am willing to bet th

2009 Counterfeit Goods Statistics

Customs and Border Protection has posted its annual report on the seizure of counterfeit merchandise. Here are some highlights: Almost 15,000 seizures of counterfeit merchandise The seizures amounted to $260 million in domestic value There was a small decline in seizures, which was far smaller than the decline in overall imports China was the leading source for counterfeits Footwear was the leading commodity seized Here is a link to the full report .

It Must Be The Holiday Season

Customs has seized a $1.6 million in counterfeit toys. The merchandise included "knockoff" Barbie dolls and riding toys with unauthorized Jeep labels. Here is the news story . IN a separate event, Customs and Border Protection seized $1.7 million in merchandise bearing counterfeit sports team logos. Wayla-guy would be offended to know that Cubs logos were included among the counterfeits. Here is that news story . Normally, I would not post simple news reports on seizures. But, I just taught on this topic last night. So, this is to let my student know that these things really happen in the real world. My student, I hope, also now understand how very difficult it can be for a good faith buyer to differentiate between a counterfeit and legitimately imported gray-market goods. For all you budding retail entrepreneurs, note that this is a risky business.