Weekly Customs and Trade News Snapshot

Weekly Customs and Trade News Snapshot

Here is a recap of the latest customs and international trade law news:     

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  

  • CBP releases September 2023 monthly update. Highlights: 
    • CBP processed more than 2.7 million entry summaries valued at more than $271 billion.  
    • Identified nearly $6.6 billion of duties to be collected by the U.S. government. 
    • Stopped 259 shipments valued at more than $102 million for further examination based on the suspected use of forced labor. 
    • Seized 1,658 shipments that contained counterfeit goods valued at more than $280 million if the items had been genuine. 
  • CBP releases FY 2023 textile enforcement statistics. Highlights: 
    • CBP seized more than 5,000 textile shipments valued at more than $129 million. 
    • Issued approximately $67.2 million in commercial fraud penalties. 
    • Conducted audits that identified over $2 million in additional duty owed to CBP.  
    • Conducted laboratory analysis on 323 shipments, 42% of which were found to be mis-declared or mis-described when arriving to the United States.  
    • Conducted 57 factory verification visits through its Textile Production Verification Team program resulting in approximately $340,000 in duties recovered and potential additional enforcement actions.  
  • CBP intercepts invasive locust in Detroit – agriculture specialists intercepted an elusive Egyptian locust during container inspections at a local railyard. The locust is considered an invasive species not known to occur in the United States and poses a threat to numerous crops found in Michigan

Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) 

  • Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), the Chair and Cochair, of the CECC, released a letter urging the Secretaries of Commerce, State and Treasury to impose export controls on technology used by People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s Public Security Bureaus and other entities in Tibet to collect biometric data which is used by PRC police for political identification and racial profiling.  
    • The letter also asks for Global Magnitsky sanctions on PRC officials responsible for the forced separation of Tibetan children from their families, a program that results in serious human rights violations and cultural and linguistic erasure.  
  • The CECC held a hearing looking at the rampant use of forced labor in China’s seafood industry and how seafood caught and processed with forced labor ends up in the U.S. supply chains.  

Department of Homeland Security 

  • Federal agents investigate sugar exporter over allegations of forced labor 
    • Homeland Security agents have been investigating working conditions at the Central Romana Corp., a major exporter of sugar to the United States, whose top executive is Alfonso Fanjul, a billionaire Florida businessman. 
    • The workers told reporters that agents queried them about their grueling work, living conditions, pay, debt, medical care, and precarious immigration status.  

 World Trade Organization 

  • WTO members reach deal to support least-developed countries on path to graduation 
    • The General Council reached an important milestone on 23 October in the global efforts to assist least-developed countries (LDCs) on the path to graduation from LDC status, adopting a decision on the extension of support measures for graduating countries.  

U.S. Department of Commerce 

  • President Biden and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced the designation of 31 communities across the country as Regional Innovation and Technology Hubs (Tech Hubs) through the Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.  
    • These Tech Hubs will catalyze investment in technologies critical to economic growth, national security, and job creation, and will help communities across the country become centers of innovation critical to American competitiveness. 
  • Gas powered pressure washers from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Antidumping Duty Order. 
  • Aluminum lithographic printing plates from the People’s Republic of China: Initiation of countervailing duty investigation. 

 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 

  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is providing $2.3 billion to help American producers maintain and develop markets for their commodities and use U.S. commodities to bolster international food aid. 

 United States Trade Representative (USTR)  

  • USTR announces enforcement action to block illegal timber imports from Peru – the Interagency Committee on Trade in Timber Products from Peru (Timber Committee) has directed CBP to continue to block any timber imports from Inversiones La Oroza SRL (Oroza), a Peruvian exporter, based on illegally harvested timber found in its supply chain.  

 Consumer Product Safety Commission 

  • CPSC accepted a settlement agreement with BJ’s Wholesale Club, Inc. (BJ’s), which contains a civil penalty in the amount of $9,000,000, and an agreement by BJ’s to maintain a compliance program and system of internal controls and procedures designed to ensure compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA).  
    • The settlement resolves CPSC’s charges that BJ’s knowingly failed to immediately report to CPSC, as required by law, that portable air conditioners manufactured by Royal Sovereign International, Inc. and sold by BJ’s contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard and created an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to consumers. 

 U.S. Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) 

  • Issuance of Russia-related General License. 
  • Balkans-related Designations and Designation Removal; Non-Proliferation Designations. 

 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 

  • EPA provides tariff flag guidance for HFCs 
    • The agency has provided guidance on the tariff flags for Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as shown in the updated ACE Agency Tariff Code Reference document. The updates include a “must” flag for certain Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) tariffs, shows the disclaims allowed for EH1, and indicates that EH3 is not being used. 
    • These flags are expected to be added to HTS codes in CERT at the start of December and in PROD by early January to align with the EPA HFC CERT and PROD deployment dates.  

Federal Trade Commission 

  • The FTC has submitted two reports to Congress detailing the agency’s efforts to combat cross-border fraud through the U.S. SAFE WEB Act and work contributing to the fight against ransomware and other cyber attacks that originate outside the United States.

International Updates 

  • China announced that it will require export permits for certain graphite products to protect national security, its latest move to curb shipments of minerals that are critical to the energy transition. 
  • Mexico restricts imports of dozens of petroleum and petrochemical products to curb fuel theft and adulteration, its official gazette showed on Monday, including certain types of gasoline and diesel, jet fuel and additives.

Industry News 

  • C4ADS, a global security think tank, published a report asserting that gold and other minerals extracted from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) are at high risk of being produced through forced labor or in conditions of human rights violations. 

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