Showing posts from July, 2012

Testing Protests

The content and timeliness of customs protests is a perennial topic of discussion. I covered here , for example, and probably in a dozen other places. Two recent decisions from the Court of International have had to wade back into that swamp. First, some background. Except in unusual circumstances, when Customs and Border Protection liquidates an entry, the liquidation and all of Customs' decisions wrapped into it become final and conclusive. This is what prevents Customs from trying to collect duties from an importer after liquidation. There are a few exceptions. The first is where the importer was negligent, grossly negligent, or committed fraud in connection with the entry. In that case, Customs can collect the amount owed plus assess a penalty. That protects Customs in the event it liquidated an entry based on bad information. The flip side is that an entry is not final if the importer files a valid protest within 180 days of liquidation. This protects the importer in the eve

Golden Tchotchkes

I am making progress on my continuing effort to catch up. Evidence of that is that I am about to do a post on a case from June: Salem Minerals Inc. v United States . The merchandise at issue in this case is a little hard to picture. It consists of small glass vials containing a clear fluid with specks of gold leaf and topped with a small figurine. Happily, the plaintiff has a web site that includes pictures of its products, including this one: The gold leaf fragments are "very small in weight per vial" and are not worked or formed during production. The anionic solution in the vial serves to magnify the appearance of the gold leaf. The themed caps are cast of tin alloys and may be electroplated with 18k gold. The gold leaf constitutes about 38% of the value of the imported products.  The vials are sold to tourists rather than through fine jewelry stores or other high-end outlets. Customs and Border Protection classified these products under Heading 7114 as "Art

Customs Business vs. Compliance

Corporate compliance is tricky enough without having to worry about whether the compliance person is actually committing a violation simply by doing his or her job. This actually comes up because the law regulating customs brokers requires that no one engage in "customs business" on behalf of another party without having a broker's license. This makes perfect sense when thinking about an independent professional conducting business on behalf of others for money. That person should be licensed. On the other hand, importers can manage compliance on their own. The law requires that importers act with reasonable care and define that, in part, as having internal customs experts. Corporate importers do this by having compliance managers to oversee import (and export) operations. The problem is that many companies are part of families of related entities.  Often, there is a corporate parent and multiple subsidiaries and possibly subsidiaries of subsidiaries. Usually, these c

Nuts! to NAFTA

Here is one I missed. Sorry, I'll be catching up. In Rogelio Salazar Cavazos v. United States , the issue was whether the Court of International Trade had jurisdiction to review a denied claim for NAFTA preferential treatment for candied peanuts imported from Mexico. Customs classified them in a tariff provision carrying a 131.8% rate of duty, which did not make the importer happy. The importer protested the classification . After liquidation but before the protests were denied, the importer filed NAFTA post-entry claims. These claims were timely, within one year from the date of importation. Customs and Border Protection subsequently denied the NAFTA claims as well.   Plaintiff did not protest the denial of the NAFTA claim . The importer then filed a summons in the Court of International Trade seeking review of the denial of the NAFTA claim. The United States moved to dismiss on the grounds that there was no denied protest relating to the NAFTA claims. The importer raised thre

A Nominee for the CIT

From the White House: President Obama Nominates Mark A. Barnett to Serve on the U.S. Court of International Trade WASHINGTON, DC – Today [meaning yesterday], President Obama nominated Mark A. Barnett to serve on the United States Court of International Trade. “I am proud to nominate this outstanding candidate to serve on the United States Court of International Trade,” said President Obama.  “Mr. Barnett has a long and distinguished record of service, and I am confident he will serve on the court with distinction.” Mark A. Barnett:  Nominee for the United States Court of International Trade Mark A. Barnett has been Deputy Chief Counsel in the Office of Chief Counsel for Import Administration at the United States Department of Commerce since 2005 and has worked as an attorney in the same office since 1995.  From 2008 to 2009, Barnett was detailed to the United States House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means, where he served as Trade Counsel for the Subcommittee on Trade.  

NAFTA & TPP: What Happens?

Here is an interesting fact. Canada and Mexico have now joined the negotiations aimed at creating a Trans-Pacific Partnership. That makes some sense. Both countries, like the United States, have pacific coasts and both countries do a lot of business in the Asia-Pacific region. The other countries currently involved in the negotiations include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Many breathless commentators have described TPP as the NAFTA of the Pacific or NAFTA on Steroids. My question is fairly basic: Assuming there is a TPP Agreement at some point in the future, what happens to NAFTA? You probably remember that when NAFTA expanded free trade in North America to include Mexico, the pre-existing U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement was put on hold and kept alive only to be resurrected in the unlikely circumstance of NAFTA collapsing. Will the same thing happen with TPP? Will it completely supersede the NAFTA? This same question can be