Showing posts from December, 2013

Stick a Fork In 2013

2013 is done. To all of you who read this blog, thank you. I am gratified to know that some of you in the trade community find enough useful and interesting information here to voluntarily give up your time to read my words. That means I am doing my job. As always, I welcome comments and criticism. Also, when I am out and about, I am always happy to meet people who let me know that they read the blog. If you see me at an event, please introduce yourself. That's true no matter what role you play in the trade community. Should you or your company have customs, trade, or export needs, please feel free to reach out to me and my partners at Barnes, Richardson & Colburn . We are happy to help. All my best to all of you. I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Remeber "Video" Cameras?

Sony Electronics, Inc. v. United States is about the tariff classification of a Sony camera that is capable of capturing still and moving digital images. Just to be clear about what we are discussing, it is the NSC-GC1. Sony asked Customs for a ruling on the classification of these cameras in 2007.  Customs and Border Protection responded that the cameras should be classified in 8525.80.50 as "television cameras, digital cameras, and video camera recorders." Sony wanted the cameras classified in 8528.80.40 as "digital still image video cameras." The gist of this case is whether the phrase "digital still image video camera" refers only to cameras capable of recording still images or also includes cameras capable of recording moving images. Customs argued that the phrase refers to the technology used to capture images by electronic means rather than on film. Thus, this tariff item would cover cameras used to capture still (and only still) images by d

Two for One

This being the last day of 2013, I am trying to do some real and virtual desk cleaning. Part of that is making sure I have reviewed the relevant CIT cases for the year. It turns out I am behind by three. Here is a brief discussion of two of them: United States v. Alejandro Santos and Alejandro Santos, CHB This decision follows the entry of a default judgment against a customhouse broker who apparently misidentified entries of pesticides as animal fat and misidentified the importer of record. The broker also made unsupported claims for duty-free treatment under the NAFTA and other violations. Customs and Border Protection issued a prepenalty and penalty notice informing him of a $30,000 penalty to be assessed. Santos waived service but did not appear to defend the claims against him. The first round of this case was discussed here . Given the facts presented in the unchallenged complaint, the Court of International Trade found that Santos violated a number of regulations enforced

Importer Holds Customs' Feet to the Fire, Gets Singed

SEE UPDATE AT BOTTOM OF POST: Welcome to the U.S. Court of International Trade, Judge Kelly. You get to start out with an odd case. The issue here is the status of a ruling (N187601)  issued to Best Key regarding the tariff classification of metalized yarn imported from China. In the ruling, Customs and Border Protection classified it in tariff item 5605.00.9000, which has a rate of duty of 13.2%. Subsequent to the ruling, Customs consulted trade publications and industry experts. Customs then determined that this merchandise did not come within the common and commercial meaning of the term metalized yarn. The reason for this was that although the yarn had been treated with metal powder, it contained only trace amounts of metals and did not exhibit a metallic look or feel. Consequently, in the April 24, 2013 Customs Bulletin , Customs and Border Protection proposed to revoke that ruling and reclassify the merchandise in 5402.47.90 as synthetic filament yarn, which has a duty of 8

When is a Motor not a Motor?

Belimo Automation v. United States presents a old problem for many importers, at what point is an assembly that includes a motor something other than a motor. Usually, when presented with that questions, Customs and Border Protection will say "Not here." Also of not, this marks the first appearance in this blog of newly minted Judge Mark Barnett of the U.S. Court of International Trade. Because Judge Barnett comes from the Department of Commerce, I suspect we will be seeing quite a few customs decisions from him while he waits for his work product from Commerce to work its way through the court process. Belimo imported an assembly used in heating, ventilation, and cooling (HVAC) systems. It consisted of a single electric motor, gears and two printed circuits. One of the printed circuits connects to and monitors the electric motor, which are used to open and close dampers to adjust the flow of air. As HVAC systems go, the pc board (which is known as an ASIC) is fairly sophi

UP Penalty Unconstitutional

Union Pacific Railroad has been fighting the good fight with U.S. Customs and Border Protection over whether it is liable for penalties for illegal drugs imported via railcars that were being used by unrelated Mexican railroad companies. UP's role was to forward the electronic manifest data to CBP and pick up the railcars after CBP clearance. Keep in mind that CBP does not accept electronic manifest transmissions from Mexican railroads. In an interesting opinion , the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that CBP lacks the authority to penalize UP for the actions of Mexican drug cartels on railcars UP neither owned nor controlled. According to the opinion, UP has no railroad operations in Mexico and no control over the Mexican railroads involved. It has no ability to control employees of the Mexican railroads and no authority to secure or search trains inside Mexico. When a train arrives at the border, CBP inspects it and sends the Mexican locomotive and crew back to Mexico.