From Chaos to Compliance: A Guide for Importers

Many mistake the ease of importing to mean there is no liability or obligation on the part of the importer. Whether your company is new to importing, or has been in the business for years, CBP expects importers to use “reasonable care” to ensure compliance with relevant rules and regulations. Importers are at risk of being subject to enforcement actions by CBP if they do not comply with the reasonable care standard when importing goods into the U.S. This article provides an overview of CBP’s expectations of an importer and practical advice on what you must have in your import compliance plan.

How Did We Get Here?

December 8th, 1993, the Dow Jones reached a record high of 3734.53, Janet Jackson’s “Again” remained number one on the charts, and President Bill Clinton signed the Customs Modernization Act (Mod Act). The Mod Act altered the import compliance landscape by making it the responsibility of the importer to classify items, determine their value, etc. The law also imposed a legal obligation to use “reasonable care” in doing so, or else Customs could (and would) impose penalties.

What Exactly is “Reasonable Care”?

Reasonable care requires importers to conduct themselves as a reasonable importer would under the circumstance with respect to importing goods into the United States.

Reasonable care requires importers to:

  • Meet the standard to enter, classify and determine the value of imported goods
  • Provide other information necessary to aid CBP in properly assessing duties and collecting accurate statistics
  • Determine whether other applicable legal standards and […]
By |2024-04-19T16:11:26-04:00April 19, 2024|Import, Pre-compliance, Reasonable Care, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on From Chaos to Compliance: A Guide for Importers

The False Claims Act: Get Paid to Expose Fraud & Unfair Competition, Protect Yourself from an Investigation

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!! UPCOMING False Claims Act Webinar !!

Learn how to expose fraud, blow the whistle on unfair competition, and avoid being the target of an FCA investigation

May 9, 2024 | 12:00 PM ET

Speakers: Jennifer Diaz, President &Dana Watts, Of Counsel, Diaz Trade Law and Jonathan Tycko, Partner, Tycko & Zavareei LLP

Register HERE.

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The False Claims Act (FCA) is a powerful federal anti-fraud law that incentivizes average people to expose fraud. The law attempts to reward whistleblowers and disincentivize committing fraud and can be used to expose customs fraud.

What is the False Claims Act?

The FCA, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733, is a federal statute enacted in 1863 in response to defense contractor fraud during the Civil War.

The FCA provides that any person who knowingly submits, or causes to submit, false claims to the government is liable for three times the government’s damages plus a penalty. Conspiring to commit these acts also is a violation of the FCA.

The FCA allows the U.S. government to investigate perpetrators of fraud directly, but it also provides an avenue for private citizens to become whistleblowers and expose fraud.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained more than $2.68 billion in settlements and judgments involving fraud and false claims in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023.

The FCA and International Trade

The FCA is commonly used to prosecute financial crime such as misuse of federal grants and healthcare related claims. However, in recent years the FCA has been increasingly used to allege customs duty […]

By |2024-04-18T17:01:11-04:00April 18, 2024|Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on The False Claims Act: Get Paid to Expose Fraud & Unfair Competition, Protect Yourself from an Investigation

UFLPA Enforcement Update

At CBP’s 2024 Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit (“the Summit”) this week, panelists shared some pending developments in Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”) enforcement. The UFLPA establishes a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any goods mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, in the Xinjiang region of China, or produced by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List, is prohibited under U.S. forced labor law.

Panelists indicated that “more than 10” new entities would be placed on the Entity List in the coming months. The government has received criticism regarding the relatively low number of entities on the Entity List since the UFLPA was enacted in June 2022. While “more than 10” is still a relatively low number, given that the current Entity List is comprised of just 30 entities, ten-plus new entities would represent a significant increase.

Panelists also announced that new high-priority sectors for UFLPA enforcement would be identified in the near future. Currently, only cotton, tomatoes, and polysilicon are officially listed as high-priority sectors. Panelists re-affirmed that the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (“FLETF”) – an interagency team led by the Department of Homeland Security – uses reports from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), reporting from journalists, letters from Congress, and other sources to identify additional potential high-priority sectors. Panelists also appeared to agree that polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”), fish, and aluminum – sectors that have recently been tied to Uyghur forced labor in NGO and media reporting – were likely candidates for designation as high-priority […]

By |2024-04-05T11:29:51-04:00March 29, 2024|Forced Labor, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on UFLPA Enforcement Update

Updates to CBP’s Global Business Identifier Test

On February 12, 2024, CBP announced key updates to the ongoing Global Business Identifier Evaluative Proof of Concept (GBI EPoC). The agency extended the test from February 12, 2024, through February 23, 2027, clarified the purpose and scope of the test, and expanded the test to include more entry types and countries of origin.

GBI EPoC Background

The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is the system through which the U.S. Government processes trade-related import and export data. The transition away from paper-based procedures has resulted in faster, more streamlined processes for both the U.S. Government and industry. To continue this progress, CBP began working with the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) and the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) starting in 2017, to discuss the continuing viability of the data element known as the manufacturer or shipper identification code (MID).

Although use of the MID has served CBP and the international trade community well in the past, it became apparent that the MID is not always a consistent or unique number. 

CBP thus engaged in regular outreach with stakeholders in the trade community with the goal of establishing a global entity identifier system. As a result of these discussions, CBP developed GBI EPoC, an interagency trade transformation project that aims to test and develop a single entity identifier solution. 

Through the GBI EPoC, CBP aims to develop a systematic, accurate, and efficient method for the U.S. […]

By |2024-02-20T11:59:28-05:00February 19, 2024|U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on Updates to CBP’s Global Business Identifier Test

Know Your Supply Chain: Forced Labor

The production of goods using forced labor remains an issue around the world. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made clear that they will continue to prioritize forced labor enforcement. CBP is the only U.S. government agency, and one of the few in the world, with the legal authority to take action against goods produced with forced labor to prevent entry into domestic commerce. 

What is Forced Labor? 

Forced labor is defined under 19 U.S.C. § 1307 as “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace [threat] of any penalty for its non-performance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily.”  Forced Labor is the third most lucrative illicit trade, behind only drugs and weapons, and has an annual trade value of roughly $150 billion 

Right now, over 40 million people around the world are victims of some type of forced labor, including modern slavery, human trafficking, child labor, etc. Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307) prohibits the importation of all goods and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by forced labor, convict labor, and/or indentured labor under penal sanctions, including forced child labor. 

CBP is responsible for preventing the entry of products made with forced labor into the U.S. market by investigating and acting upon allegations of […]

By |2024-02-19T10:25:24-05:00February 19, 2024|Forced Labor, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on Know Your Supply Chain: Forced Labor

RECAP: World Trade Center Miami World Trade Month Webinars

Last week concluded World Trade Center Miami’s International Trade Weeks Webinars. The two weeks of webinars coincided with World Trade Month and included online presentations from U.S. federal agencies on current federal regulations and updates, classification, and essential import and export information.

The series included sessions from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Headquarters Offices, CTPAT, Fines, Penalties & Forfeitures, and Centers of Excellence and Expertise (Centers). Webinar topics encompassed CTPAT, Forced Labor Enforcement Overview, E-Commerce, Broker Regulatory Updates, IPR & Trademark Policy, U.S. Plant Pest Pressures, Importing Alcoholic Beverages into the United States and many more.

Partner government agencies included:

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
  • Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) 
  • Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
  • Department of Transportation (DOT)

Participating Centers of Excellence and Expertise included:

  • Agriculture & Prepared Products: Managed by the Miami Field Office, specializes in agriculture, aquaculture, animal products, vegetable products, prepared foods, beverages, alcohol, tobacco or similar industries.
  • Apparel, Footwear & Textiles: Managed by the San Francisco Field Office, specializes in wearing apparel, footwear, textile mill products, or similar industries.
  • Automotive & Aerospace: Managed by the Detroit […]
By |2023-05-31T08:47:34-04:00May 31, 2023|U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on RECAP: World Trade Center Miami World Trade Month Webinars

Summary of CBP’s March 2023 Forced Labor Technical Expo

Summary of CBP’s March 2023 Forced Labor Technical Expo 

CBP held a Forced Labor Technical Expo from March 14-15, comprised of experts and service providers highlighting tools to utilize for supply chain transparency to comply with The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) and the general “reasonable care” obligations of U.S. importers. UFLPA was signed into law December 31, 2021, and seeks to prohibit imports of certain goods from China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where it has been reported that the Chinese government is using forced labor of Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic and religious minorities in detention camps and factories. For more information about the UFLPA, please see our previous blog articles here and here.  

CBP Data Dashboard  

CBP launched a UFLPA data dashboard where the trade community can now monitor forced labor enforcement by origin, commodity, CBP Center of Excellence and Expertise, and more. See the screenshot of the new dashboard below and note that the countries of export most targeted are NOT China, contrary to popular belief. This is partly due to the fact that most UFLPA enforcement to date has been on solar panels, which may include Chinese-origin raw materials but are generally further manufactured outside of China. Notably, CBP is actively tracking many different types of products across many different industries with raw materials that originate in China and that are further manufactured in other countries for forced labor enforcement. […]

By |2023-03-29T12:06:53-04:00March 29, 2023|China, Forced Labor, International Trade, Reasonable Care, Supply Chain, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on Summary of CBP’s March 2023 Forced Labor Technical Expo

USDA Proposes New “Made in the USA” Standard

U.S. consumers who seek animal food products labeled as “Made in the USA,” or who simply value transparency on food product labels, may finally catch a break. On March 6, 2023, the USDA released a proposed rule to help define what is meant when a food product is a “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA.”  Currently, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulated products may be labeled as “Product of USA” even when an animal product is derived “from animals that may have been born, raised, and slaughtered in another country but are minimally processed in the United States.”

As a result of the U.S. President’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain, the proposed rule allows a “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA” label claim to be used on meat, poultry and egg products only when they are derived from animals born, raised, slaughtered and processed in the United States.

Albeit, a very significant caveat accompanies the proposed rule, which is, that, labeling a food product in accordance with the latter is completely voluntary. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes a similar course of action. While the FTC regulates U.S. origin claims under its authority to act against deceptive acts and practices, foreign-origin markings on products are regulated primarily by U.S. Customs under the Tariff Act of 1930. The similarity in the rules is that neither Customs nor the FTC requires that goods made […]

By |2023-03-14T10:25:05-04:00March 14, 2023|Food, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC)|Comments Off on USDA Proposes New “Made in the USA” Standard

New Court Rulings on Marijuana-Related Paraphernalia: Understanding the Impact on Importers

The marijuana industry is rapidly growing, with more and more states legalizing its use for medical and/or recreational purposes. With this growth, there is an increase in the importation of products such as grinders, storage containers, rolling paper, pipes, and vape pens, both for business and personal use. More businesses are asking why there is an issue importing such items when they only intend to sell and distribute within the many states where marijuana is legal for medical or recreational use and have established regulations for marijuana-related products. It is still essential to remember, while many states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal under federal law. 

This blog will address recent Court of International Trade (CIT) cases on this very topic and will be a part 2 to our previous blog covering U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seizures of drug paraphernalia 

CBP Authority 

CBP has the power to seize “drug paraphernalia” products.  This does not only cover importations of products for commercial use, but also items for personal use with individuals traveling internationally seeking entry into the United States.  CBP’s website section: Know Before You Go – Prohibited and Restricted Items encourages individuals to contact CBP prior to traveling and make sure that prohibited or restricted items, such as drug paraphernalia, are not brought into the country, as they are not only subject to seizure pursuant to 19 […]

By |2023-03-10T12:04:07-05:00March 10, 2023|E-Cigarette, Export, Import, Seizures, Tobacco, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on New Court Rulings on Marijuana-Related Paraphernalia: Understanding the Impact on Importers

CBP Publishes Additional Guidance On Responding to Cargo Detentions Made Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act

Background

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”) went into effect on June 21, 2022. The law creates a rebuttable presumption that imports of all goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China (“Xinjiang”), or by entities identified on the UFLPA Entity List, were made using forced labor and are prohibited from entry into the U.S. under 19 U.S.C. § 1307. For more information about the UFLPA, please see our previous blog articles here and here. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) has been vigorously enforcing this law, detaining hundreds of attempted import shipments every month under both the UFLPA and Withhold Release Orders for suspected forced labor violations.

Importers that have a shipment detained under the UFLPA can seek to have the shipment released under one of two paths. They can either:

  • show that in spite of the fact that the goods were produced wholly or partially in Xinjiang or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List, they were not in fact made using forced labor; or
  • show that neither the goods nor the inputs used to make the goods were produced wholly or partially in Xinjiang and have no connection to entities on the UFLPA Entity List (i.e., that the goods fall outside the scope of the UFLPA).

Taking the second path means requesting an “admissibility review.”

Last year, pursuant to the UFLPA, the Department of Homeland Security published a Strategy to Prevent the Importation of Goods Mined, […]

By |2023-03-09T20:19:21-05:00March 9, 2023|China, Forced Labor, Import, International Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Uncategorized|Comments Off on CBP Publishes Additional Guidance On Responding to Cargo Detentions Made Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
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