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GSP Expected to be Renewed Retroactively - Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP

The House of Representatives approved “The Consolidated Appropriations Act-2018” (the “Act”), which includes a renewal of Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) through December 31, 2020. The Senate is set to vote to approve the bill before midnight Friday. The bill will be effective 30 days after the date of the enactment of the Act.

Once signed into law by the President, the Act will renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) preferential duty program, which expired on December 31, 2017. The renewal will be retroactive, meaning that otherwise-eligible GSP merchandise entered between December 31, 2017, and the effective date of the law will be eligible duty refunds .

Unlike previous GSP renewals, the duty refunds under this renewal will NOT be automatic. The Act provides that importers will need to file a refund “request” with CBP. We anticipate that Customs will issue a directive establishing guidelines for filing refund requests. CBP previously advised importers to continue to flag GSP-eligible importations with the SPI “A” or “A*”pay duty pending the reinstatement of the GSP Program. CBP had indicated that it was developing programing to provide for the batch processing of refunds on all duty paid entries which were filed with SPI “A” or SPI “A*.”

If entries were not flagged with the SPI or batch processing does not occur, the Act states that refund requests must be filed within 180 days of the effective date of the law, which will be 30 days after the bill is signed by the President. The Act further provides that refunds will be issued within 90 days of liquidation or re-liquidation. Interest will not be included in the refunds.

Commerce Publishes Requirements for Exclusion Requests for Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Tariffs - Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP

Today the Department of Commerce (DOC) issued new regulations on the requirements for submitting exclusion requests from the upcoming Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum products. The tariffs of 25% ad valorem on steel and 10% ad valorem on aluminum take effect later this week for all entries for consumption on or after March 23, 2018. Products of Canada and Mexico are currently exempt.

Under these new rules, the submission of exclusion requests have the following requirements and conditions:

  • Request can only be made by individuals or organization using steel and aluminum articles in the United States (e.g., construction, manufacturing, supplying steel to end users).
  • Exclusions will be on a product specific basis and limited to the organization which submitted the request, unless the DOC approves a broader application.
  • Exclusion requests must be submitted electronically on a required form available at the DOC website (see below). The form requires very detailed information. Supporting records must be uploaded as PDF and there is a 25 page limit, including attachments, but exclusive of the form.
  • Requests will be made public. Business confidential information can be submitted separately, although the procedure for doing so is not specified.
  • No time limit as to when to submit the exclusion request.
  • Objections to an exclusion may be submitted within 30 days after a request is posted.
  • Exclusions will last for one year. The DOC form requires the request to specify the annual quantity to be covered by the exclusion, although the regulations do not state that exclusions will be limited to specific quantities.
  • Exclusions will take effect 5 business days after DOC posts its response.
  • DOC review of an exclusion request normally will not exceed 90 days from the date of submission.
  • The regulation does not specify if an exclusion, once granted, will be retroactive to March 23. Thus, affected parties are encouraged to submit exclusion requests as soon as possible.

The regulations and the required form raise a number of issues that should be considered by affected parties in developing an exclusion request that will have the highest probability of being accepted. These issues include whether to submit the request by the importer of record or the end user, which foreign mills and countries of origin to include, how to best define the product to be covered by the exclusion, what evidence to include to support the lack of domestic availability or acceptable quality, what quantities to request, and how excluded shipments should be identified to CBP at time of entry.

The new regulations can be found here

The DOC forms can be found here:

U.S. Exempts Allies From Steel and Aluminum Tariffs  - NYTimes

WASHINGTON — Even as it prepares to start collecting tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, the Trump Administration moved Thursday to provide exemptions to a big group of trading partners, at least for now.

The United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, told the Senate Finance Committee that the European Union, along with Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea, would be exempt. Canada and Mexico were earlier left off the list of countries subject to the tariffs.

Read entire article here

POLA and POLB Marine Terminal Gates Closed Thursday, April 5, 2018, from 5 p.m. - PierPass

PierPass Inc. has been notified that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) will observe a special stop work meeting for union business on Thursday, April 5, 2018, starting at 5 p.m. As a result, no marine terminal gates at the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Long Beach will operate between the hours of 5:00 p.m. on April 5 through 3:00 a.m. on April 6. There will be no OffPeak shift Thursday night April 5.  Please check with individual terminals for substitute or alternative gates.

Update: CBP Bills for Supplemental Duties, Taxes and Fees, or Vessel Repair Duties - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

On August 14, 2017, CBP posted a reminder to the importing public that a bill becomes delinquent 31 days after the date of the bill whether protested or not per 19 USC § 1505(d) and 19 CFR 24.3(e). After 30 days, 19 USC § 1505(d) interest also accrues from the date of liquidation until the full balance is paid. As long as the debt remains unpaid, delinquency interest continues to accrue. Also, per 19 CFR 24.3a(d), the principal will be notified at the time of the initial billing, and every 30 days after the due date until the bill is paid or otherwise closed.

Effective March 26, 2018, CBP will be mailing its dunning letters 120 days from the date of the bill to outline what will happen if payment is not received or if a protest is not filed within 180 days per 19 U.S.C. § 1514. In general, if a protest is filed within 180 days, the bill will not be subject to setoff by diverted refunds, per 19 C.F.R. § 24.72, nor will the importer be subject to sanction because of that bill, per 19 C.F.R. § 142.14, until the protest decision is made. However, if a protest is not filed within 180 days, the bill is subject to being setoff by a diverted refund, if available, per 19 C.F.R. § 24.72, and/or CBP may sanction the importer because of that bill, per 19 C.F.R. § 142.14.

West Coast Cargo Stakeholders Review PierPass Extended Gate Alternatives - PierPass

SAN PEDRO, Calif., March 12, 2018 – More than 60 supply chain leaders gathered on March 8 to review the findings of an analysis of options for extended gate hours at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Tioga Group Inc. and World Class Logistics (WCL) Consulting Inc. presented the results of their evaluation of two potential alternatives to the current model used under the OffPeak program managed by PierPass. Since 2005, the OffPeak program has mitigated traffic congestion caused by port truck operations by enabling and encouraging the pickup and delivery of containers on weeknights or Saturdays.

The two alternatives the study considered were appointments to control traffic flow, combined with a flat fee on both Daytime and nighttime cargo moves; and port-wide peel-off, in which trucks would operate like taxis in an airport queue, each truck picking up the next container in the stack, providing minimal turn times.

Read further

Additional Read - American Shipper Article

U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Miami and Federal Partners Seize Over Six Million Counterfeit Cigarettes - U.S. Customs & Border Protection

MIAMI — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers assigned to a mobile enforcement team along with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) commercial fraud agents seized six million counterfeit cigarettes during a recent warehouse inspection. The estimated manufacturer's suggested retail price is $1.1 million.

CBP import specialists with the Agriculture and Prepared Products Center of Excellence and Expertise in Miami examined 600 boxes of counterfeit cigarettes and found multiple trade name protection and trafficking counterfeit goods violations.

Illegal trafficking in cigarettes generates significant profits for criminal organizations and poses a public health risk. counterfeit cigarettes not only affect trademark owners, but defraud consumers and deprive the government of tax revenue. Consumers think they pay less for a genuine product, when in reality they pay less for a product of substandard quality.

“International counterfeiters will get caught,” said Agriculture and Prepared Products Center Director Dina M. Amato. “This seizure is the latest example of the extraordinary vigilance of CBP personnel with federal partners in Florida thwarting illegal trafficking of counterfeit cigarettes.”

Importers violating intellectual property rights may be subject to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution. CBP and ICE seized a record number of 34,143 shipments of goods that violated Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) nationwide in Fiscal Year 2017.

The men and women of CBP are responsible for enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws and regulations. On a typical day, CBP welcomes nearly 1 million visitors, screens more than 67,000 cargo containers, arrests more than 1,100 individuals and seizes nearly 6 tons of illicit drugs.

In Florida, CBP facilitates travel and trade and secures over 1,200 miles of the coastal border. Find out more and get real-time updates at @CBPFlorida on Twitter.

Statement from FDA's Donald St. Pierre on Findings from Ongoing Investigation Into Lead Testing Issues - Food & Drug Administration

BD studies find chemical interaction during test processing may contribute to skewing results

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first warned Americans in May 2017 that lead tests manufactured by Magellan Diagnostics may provide inaccurate results for some children and adults in the U.S., the agency made a commitment to continue to aggressively investigate the problem. Since then, the FDA has remained in close contact with the lead test manufacturer as well as Becton Dickinson (BD) & Company, the manufacturer of certain blood sample collection tubes often used alongside many lead tests, as part of our effort to determine the cause of the inaccurate results.

At the FDA’s request, BD conducted studies to assess the accuracy of Magellan’s LeadCare testing systems when used with blood from the vein (venous) collected into BD tubes. The FDA concluded that the studies performed by BD were robust and showed that there was a significant chance of false results with Magellan’s LeadCare tests when used with whole blood collected from the vein and stored in certain BD tubes. Upon further investigation, BD determined that the affected tubes’ rubber stoppers contain a chemical called thiuram that can release sulfur-containing gases that dissolve into blood samples and bind tightly to lead particles. This chemical reaction makes it difficult for the Magellan lead tests to detect the correct amount of lead in a sample.

Given these findings, the FDA continues to recommend that Magellan lead tests not be used with blood samples taken from the vein. Magellan’s lead test systems can continue to be used with blood samples from a finger or heel stick (capillary blood samples).

BD has determined their venous blood collection tubes that contain thiuram and that could be used with Magellan lead tests include those with green tops (lithium heparin tubes), pink, tan, and lavender tops (EDTA tubes). Because the chemical thiuram may be used to manufacture rubber stoppers by both BD and other blood collection tube manufacturers, the recommendation not to use Magellan lead tests with blood samples taken from the vein applies to all brands of collection tubes used for blood drawn from the vein. The FDA is following up with blood collection tube manufacturers serving the U.S. market to investigate if this issue may impact collection tubes marketed by companies other than BD. The FDA is also continuing to evaluate other factors that may have contributed to inaccurate results observed with Magellan lead tests.

Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body, produces no obvious symptoms, and frequently goes unrecognized, potentially leading to serious health issues. Lead poisoning is particularly dangerous to infants and young children. While recommendations for lead screening in adults differ from state to state, all states require children to be screened for lead exposure. Some adults are also at risk for lead exposure, including those who work around products or materials that contain lead.

BD uses thiuram in the manufacturing of green tops (lithium heparin tubes), red tops (serum tubes), grey tops (sodium fluoride tubes), pink, tan and lavender tops (EDTA tubes), black tops (seditainer tubes), light blue/black tops (CPT tubes), and green/red tops (CPT tubes). At the FDA’s request, BD is conducting testing to determine whether clinical laboratory tests other than the Magellan lead tests are affected by the thiuram chemical interference. This evaluation is ongoing. Based on the results of BD’s studies to date and our understanding of the chemical interaction that could cause inaccurate lead test results, the FDA does not believe that there is evidence at this time showing that other tests are impacted by the chemical interference. The FDA also has no evidence at this time that other methods of measuring blood lead, including mass spectrometry or atomic absorption method lead tests, are affected by the thiuram interference.

The FDA continues to work alongside the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on an independent analysis of Magellan Diagnostics’ LeadCare System tests. Given that studies are ongoing, patients are encouraged to continue following the CDC’s 2017 re-testing recommendations and the FDA's recommendations for health care professionals. As our investigation into the cause of the inaccurate lead test results continues to unfold, the FDA will provide updates on our findings and on changes to our recommendations based on any new findings.

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