Showing posts from January, 2017

Ruling of the Week 2017.4: Midwakh from UAE

This is a good week to be talking about trade with the Middle East. I am talking about trade in goods, which is what I do. I don't talk about immigration issues. That's too bad because yesterday was a doozy of day in the history of immigration law in America. Congratulations to the ACLU  and everyone who helped secure a stay of the President's order barring entry for people from seven majority-Muslim countries (including those already holding green cards and visas). That was a tremendous effort at ensuring the rule of law, not to mention humane treatment for people who had the bad luck of being on a plane at the moment he signed the order. There were many examples of lawyers showing up at airports around the country to help stranded travelers. Some of them were affiliated with the International Refugee Assistance Project . Both the ACLU and IRAP deserve your support. That said, I will focus on something entirely superficial: the customs treatment of mewakh pipes. Fro

Ruling of the Week 2017.3: Indirect Materials

I do a lot of NAFTA-related work. At least I do this week. It remains to be seen whether that changes soon. Secretary of Commerce designee Wilbur Ross told the Senate committee considering his nomination that his top priority would be renegotiating NAFTA . So, this may all change. As we sometimes have to tell clients, the situation is fluid. In the meantime, the NAFTA rules of origin continue in place. Often, for a product to qualify as originating, it must have a Regional Value Content of 50% when calculated with the net cost methodology or 60% when calculated with the transaction value methodology. There are exceptions, especially for automotive products. You need to check the rule applicable to your product in HTSUS General Note 12. Sometimes, producers are close but cannot hit the required RVC. There are a few means provided in the regulation for adding to the RVC. One of the best is the designation of a self produced material as an intermediate material. HQ H273100 (Jan. 6, 20

Lock Washers: Scope and Suspension

Here, we continue our dive into the intersection of customs and trade law. The Court of International Trade decision in United Steels and Fasteners, Inc. v. United States , raises interesting issues about how scope decisions from the Department of Commerce impact customs entries awaiting liquidation. If you are a traditional customs compliance professional who does not often delve into trade questions, buckle up. This will be bumpy. This case involves the antidumping duty order on Helical Spring Lock Washers from China . The scope of this particular order covers: circular washers of carbon steel, of carbon alloy steel, or of stainless steel, heat-treated or non-heat-treated, plated or non-plated, with ends that are off-line. HSLWs are designed to: 1) function as a spring to compensate for developed looseness between the component parts of a fastened assembly; 2) distribute the load over a larger area for screw or bolts; and 3) provide a hardened bearing surface. The scope does not

What the Frak?

Spin up the FTL drive and meet me in the CIC , the Federal Circuit has issued its first 2017 decision in an appeal from the Court of International Trade. Here is the sitrep : The case in question is Schlumberger Technology Corp. v. United States . The merchandise in question is bauxite proppants . These are the bits of granulated bauxite used in hydraulic fracturing operations to hold open cracks in the rock structures and, thereby, allow for the efficient extraction of oil and gas . In other words, these little bits of bauxite "prop" open the cracks. The proppants are produced from bauxite ore taken from the earth (or, in Hebrew, " Adama ") and milled to a powder then granulated to produce larger particles. The particles are sorted by size, dried and kiln fired. Customs classified the proppants in HTSUS Heading 6909 as "Ceramic wares for laboratory, chemical, or other technical uses; ceramic troughs, tubs, and similar receptacles of a kind used in agricul

Ruling of the Week 2017.2: Emergency War Material Covers Failed NAFTA Claim

I like this ruling.  It is HQ H273101 (Nov. 4, 2016). This is a case where the importer made a NAFTA claim. When asked by Customs and Border Protection, the importer either could not or just did not support the claim. It happens. Sometimes, subsequent review turns up a problem with the NAFTA documentation. Sometimes, the broker should not have made the claim to start with. Lots of things happen in the real world. This particular product is a multi-sensor electro-optical surveillance and targeting turret from Canada. As you might imagine, a multi-sensor electro-optical surveillance and targeting turret is a piece of military equipment. When the NAFTA claim failed, the importer asserted that the merchandise is entitled to duty-free entry as war material certified as such by a military procuring agency under HTSUS item 9808.00.30. It submitted the necessary certificates. Customs liquidated the entry at the applicable 4.5% rate of duty and the importer protested. Customs granted the

Ruling of the Week 2017.1: Geeks Will Eat Anything

It is a new year and a lot has changed in the world. People in my field are either excited about the possibilities of major changes in trade policy or are horrified by the possibilities of major changes in trade policy. I have had several calls about whether the U.S. will withdraw from NAFTA, impose new duties on goods made in Mexico by U.S.-based companies, and raise tariffs on goods from China. My answer so far has been, "I wish I knew." The new President and the new Congress will have a lot of authority under domestic law. The bigger questions will relate to how our trading partners respond. The U.S. has agreed many times to hold or lower duties. Going back on those promises will mean violating WTO obligations and multiple free trade agreements. Some people may not care. The U.S. remains fully sovereign and can violate any international agreements it choses. As a former partner used to say, "The WTO has no army." But, the WTO has the ability to authorize trad