Showing posts from August, 2014

Reservations about the Reserve Calendar

Customs cases present a few unique challenges to potential litigants in the U.S. Court of International Trade. One of those that every unfavorable liquidation of a customs entry stands alone as a possible claim to be brought to the Court for review. Often, multiple entries are grouped together into a single protest and the denied protest forms the basis of the case. The plaintiff initiates the case by filing a summons, rather than a complaint as is done in most courts. The summons puts the case on the Court's Reserve Calendar ( see Rule 83 ) where it can sit for 18 months or more if the Court grants an extension. Sometimes, the cases sit on the Reserve Calendar for substantially more than 18 months. Why is this the process? Because the typical customs case involves a small potential refund but is often one in a series of many similar potential cases that are worth litigating in the aggregate. To facility the resolution of issues covering many entries and many protests, the Court

Ruling of the Week 5: Right to Make Entry

There is an important and sometimes silly aspect of customs law involving who has the right to make entry. There is a statutory requirement that the importer of record for merchandise entering the U.S. be a party with the right to make entry. Specifically, the IOR may be the owner or purchaser of the goods or a broker appointed on behalf of the owner, purchaser or consignee. That is fine and seems clear. The problem is that it just does not fit with all of the crazy ways international transactions get structured these days. For example, what if Acme Corp. Canada owns some merchandise located in Canada that it wants processed in the U.S. by a third party. There is no purchaser in the U.S. because Acme Canada continues to own the goods. Acme Canada could be the (non-resident) importer as the owner. But, what if Acme Corp. USA decides to offer to help and act as importer? That might be an issue. Acme USA is not the owner (that is Acme Canada), it is not the purchaser, and because the good

Hi, I'm Back

Domain issue fixed. Return to your normal activities. My fear of having my domain hijacked by a competitor has passed.

GRK Canada: Wood Screws, Fly Swatters, and Butter Knives

Is it possible that I failed to report on the Court of International Trade decision in GRK Canada, Ltd. v. United States ? I can't find it on my own blog, so that seems to be true. Well, the Federal Circuit has vacated and remanded that decision back to the CIT, so pretend it never happened and start here. The issue is the proper tariff classification of various screws. Customs and Border Protection liquidated the the screws as "other wood screws" in HTSUS item 7318.12.00. GRK protested, asserting that the correct classification in in 7318.14.10 as "self-tapping screws." The Court of International Trade held that both subheadings were eo nomine , meaning that the scope of the heading depends on the description of the product by name rather than by use. Because the government's argument in the Trade Court was based on the use of the screws in wood, the Court found it to be weak and ultimately unconvincing. The Court then found that the imported products had

Ruling of the Week 4: Gelato

I need to give you a post on GRK Canada v. United States, which is a recent decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on the classification of screws. It is interesting and deserves attention. You'll have to wait a bit. In the meantime, enjoy some dessert, specifically a product called "Le Crème Pregiate - Ricotta con pezzi di pera e gocce di cioccolato ." According to Customs and Border Protection, this delicious sounding stuff is gelato containing milk, sheep-milk ricotta, semi-candied pear pieces, chocolate chips, and a bunch of other stuff. As with many rulings issued from CBP in New York, there is no analysis provided in N255285 (Aug. 6, 2014) . The end result is that it is classifiable in HTSUS subheading 2105.00. The specific tariff item will depend on whether the goods are imported in or out of the milk quota, which is why this caught my attention. That result is similar to the unbaked cinnamon rolls we discussed last week. See a theme here? Tha

Ruling of the Week 3: Mmmm Cinnamon Rolls

The New York Times occasionally profiles a business traveler. One of the questions the paper asks is whether the traveler has any secret airport vices. It surprises me that more of the profile subjects do not say cinnamon buns. Very few things on Earth smell better than airport cinnamon buns. But, I will admit, I do not think I have ever actually eaten one. They seem to me to be sized for a family of six. That is not intended to sound virtuous. I am not opposed to the airport beer or the airport milkshake. On rare occasions, I will indulge in the airport McFlurry. But, I find the cinnamon roll to be altogether too daunting a challenge. Which brings me to the ruling of the week: HQ H158455, which is still proposed.  The importer had requested a ruling on the tariff classification of unbaked cinnamon rolls imported for retail establishments to proof and bake. Originally, CBP classified them as food preparations of flour in HTSUS item 1901.90.90. Apparently, the importer was not

Trouble, With a Capital T&E

You should remember from the prior post on this case that the Court of International Trade held C.H. Robinson liable for duties on imported clothing from China that entered the U.S. bonded for transportation and exportation (“T&E”), but were never exported. That is a violation of the bond. C.H. Robinson was the bonded carrier responsible for delivering the merchandise to Laredo, but another carrier was going to accomplish the actual exportation to Mexico. It appears the goods made it to Laredo, but it is not clear what happened after that. When U.S. Customs and Border Protection audited the T&E, C.H. Robinson produced the stamped Mexican pedimento entry documents as proof of the export. Unfortunately, Mexican Customs subsequently declared the pedimentos to be false. As a result, Customs hit C.H. Robinson with liquidated damages of $75,000, which it mitigated to about $57,000. Customs then went to court to collect that amount plus duties, taxes, and fees. The total amount

Ruling of the Week 2: Flashing Jewel Sticker

In HQ H236025, which is technically still a proposed ruling, Customs and Border Protection will change the tariff classification of a star-shaped green plastic jewel. The jewel includes a battery and an light. When pressed, it flashes. And, to make it really useful at your next rave, the jewel is adhesive and can be worn anywhere on the body. Anyone want to guess its tariff classification? CBP's analysis is mostly about what this thing is not. It is not imitation jewelry because it does not imitate the small articles of person adornment of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal. In other words, this thing is not trying to look like earrings or a brooch for example and, therefore, won't be classified as imitation jewelry. Next question is whether it is a portable electric lamp. I guess it is possible that kids at Lollapalooza might get close enough in the dark to read by the light of their green jewel stickers. But, CBP noted that the light flashes and does no