Tricks of the Trade

Steel/Aluminum Tariffs Exemptions Clarified

Industrial Welder With Torch

Photo credit: iStock.com/Kerkez

By Susan Kohn Ross

In off the record comments on March 28, 2018, an official of the Dept. of Commerce provided some clarification as to how the product exemption process will work relative to steel and aluminum tariffs. Of course, the starting point is: if your product is subject to the steel or aluminum tariffs and is not from an exempted country, the 25% or 10%, respectively, will have to be paid. After that, things get trickier.

If you decide to seek exemption for your product, the first step obviously is to gather the needed details and file your exemption request. The way the process is intended to work is once the exemption request is uploaded to regulations.gov, the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) will review it for completeness. If not complete, the application will be rejected. If complete, it will be officially posted on the regulations.gov website. That date is key. Because, if your exemption request is later granted, while not official until five days after it is published, you will be able to seek refunds on any entries filed between the date the exemption request is posted and when it is granted. (more…)

Consumer Products Sellers Beware: New Prop 65 Warnings Coming in California

Prop 65 Warning

Photo credit: iStock.com/kchungtw

By Susan Kohn Ross and Matthew S. Beasley

 

New Proposition 65 safe harbor warnings will take effect on August 30, 2018. While these new warnings relate to a wide range of goods and services, we are focused on changes that impact consumer products due to the focus of our clientele. If you are currently subject to Prop 65, you will continue to be subject to its requirements. If you are not currently impacted, you may be under the new rules!

Not sure? Check the various fact sheets published here, or more generally the “warnings page” here.

New Categories

Warnings are now expressly required on your website! Internet warnings – “a warning that complies with the content requirements of Section 25603(a) must also be provided by including either the warning or a clearly marked hyperlink using the word “WARNING” on the product display page, or by otherwise prominently displaying the warning to the purchaser prior to completing the purchase.” The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment or OEHHA (the California state agency which oversees Prop 65) noted the following: “Some online retail sellers who currently provide an internet warning do so by providing the warning as a pop-up when the purchaser enters a California zip code. This is an example of a way to prominently display ‘the warning to the purchaser prior to completing the purchase’ as required by the regulation.” (more…)

Trade Trifecta!

USA and Chinese flags on mountain signpost.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwel

By Susan Kohn Ross

Some events rather significant to international traders occurred in the last few days. First, on Friday, March 23, 2018, President Trump signed the latest spending bill. It includes a provision to renew Generalized System of Preferences (“GSP”) benefits retroactive to December 31, 2017, when the program last expired. GSP is now authorized through December 31, 2020.

With history as a guide, we should expect Customs and Border Protection to shortly publish a message advising when its programming is updated, the deadline by which to file refunds and similar details. In the past, so long as the entry was filed with an “A” or similar indicator, refunds were routinely issued, but importers would still be wise to make sure their list of eligible entries is current, and then to track their refunds. Since the bill was signed into law on Friday, the deadline to file refund requests will be 180 days later, which works out to September 18, 2018. (more…)

New Tariffs: Definition & Exclusion

storehouse

Photo credit: iStock.com/Evening_T

By Susan Kohn Ross

When President Trump announced the 25% steel and 10% aluminum tariffs on March 8, 2018, he instructed the Secretary of Commerce to issue regulations explaining how American companies could seek exclusions from those tariffs no later than March 19, 2018, and that deadline has been met. These new regulations can be found here.

Before we discuss the new regulations, we should start with the data Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released with its programming updates to implement these safeguard tariffs. (more…)

Clanging: Here Come Those New Steel and Aluminum Tariffs!

Straight row of metal bars after grinding

Photo credit: iStock.com/Nordroden

By Susan Kohn Ross

Earlier today, March 8, 2018, President Trump signed two Presidential Proclamations, one dealing with additional tariffs on steel and the other with additional tariffs on aluminum. As has been widely reported in the general press, those rates are 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum. The only countries exempted are Canada and Mexico.

Steel articles are defined as those which are classified under HTSUS 7206.10 through 7216.50 (including ingots, bars, rods and angles), 7216.99 through 7301.10 (including bars, rods, wire, ingots, and sheet piling), 7302.10 (rails), 7302.40 through 7302.90 (including plates and sleepers), and 7304.10 through 7306.90 (including tubes, pipes and hollow profiles). Aluminum products are defined as unwrought aluminum (HTS 7601); aluminum bars, rods, and profiles (HTS 7604); aluminum wire (HTS 7605); aluminum plate, sheet, strip and foil (flat rolled products) (HTS 7606 and 7606); aluminum tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fittings (HTS 7608 and 7609); and aluminum castings and forgings (HTS 7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.51.70). (more…)

Steel & Aluminum: Tough Tariffs, Tough Road Ahead?

steel

Photo credit: iStock.com/inyoun

By Susan Kohn Ross

Earlier today, President Trump announced his intention to adopt the recommendations of the Dept. of Commerce and impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. The formal signing is said to be taking place “next week.” President Trump has stated those tariffs will be 25% on foreign-made steel and 10% on foreign-made aluminum. Hopefully when the final document is signed and released, it will become clear how long these tariffs will be in place and whether they will be accompanied by any other measures, such as quotas.

Commerce’s original steel recommendations were: (i) a 24% tariff on all steel imports; or (ii) a 53% tariff on steel imports from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam; which (iii) could include a quota from all other countries equal to their 2017 level of imports; or (iv) no tariffs, but a quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63% of their 2017 import levels. (more…)

New Tariffs: Trade War Washing Ashore?

solar panels  under blue sky on sunset

Photo credit: iStock.com/snvv

By Susan Kohn Ross

Yesterday, January 22, 2018, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer announced the imposition of safeguard tariffs on solar cells and modules. Much has been said in the general press about this case, but only now is the key point starting to register, and is something international traders immediately thought about – is President Trump starting a new trade war with China?

By way of a quick summary, after seeking relief through the antidumping and countervailing duty laws and not getting the desired market relief, Suniva, later joined by SolarWorld, invoked Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974. The appropriate petition was brought, the International Trade Commission (ITC) conducted the required proceedings, found detrimental harm, and made recommendations to the President. While disagreement among the Commissioners was acknowledged, most favored an increase in duties, and President Trump agreed. Safeguard tariffs have been imposed for four years – the maximum length of time permitted – on a per year basis – 30%, 25%, 20% and 15%. The USTR announcement also states the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported cells are excluded from the safeguard tariff. A critical point here is these safeguards are being imposed on both the cells and the modules, regardless of where made, as would be expected from a global safeguard, but the solar cells are overwhelmingly made in China. (more…)

Border Searches of Electronic Devices

Men dress up lifestyle hold smartphone screen shows the key in the Security online world. the display and technology advances in communications. The concept of advancement in living in the future.

Photo credit: iStock.com/Sitthiphong

By Susan Kohn Ross

Earlier this month, MSK attorneys David Rugendorf and Frida Glucoft published an Alert summarizing the latest directive issued by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regarding the search of electronic devices. A copy of their original article can be found here – Hold That Call International Travelers. Given the increasing likelihood of any traveler’s electronic devices being subjected to a search, whether arriving or departing the U.S. by air, ocean or land, these recent changes warrant a deeper dive.

First, for those who want to read the actual document, it is CBP Directive 3340-049A. As the earlier Alert noted, CBP has the broad rights to search any individuals, luggage, and cargo entering and leaving the U.S. Searches of cargo are governed by other laws and regulations. This directive deals only with arriving and departing travelers and their devices. (more…)

Tips for Traveling with Electronic Devices

Woman using her mobile phone , city skyline night light background

Photo credit: iStock.com/LDProd

By Susan Kohn Ross

In the September 18, 2017 Federal Register notice (see 82 FR 43556) , U.S. Citizenship and Immigration made clear it will now routinely require those applying to enter the U.S. to provide social media handles. As such, the obvious starting point for these tips must be a reminder that Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) officers may require arriving travelers to provide the unlock code to their electronic devices and user names/passwords to gain access to programs, including social media accounts, so make sure all your programs are closed when you cross the border! The contents on your devices can be examined, and that is true whether or not you are a U.S. citizen, and regardless of your profession. If you are selected for such an inspection, you can expect this two page summary may be handed to you.

The national security concerns of protecting the homeland allow CBP officers to inspect passengers and their belongings without meeting the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.  A CBP officer is not required to articulate why he or she directs you to secondary or why you or a particular device is of interest. (more…)

Walking the North Korean Tightrope

Sanctions against North Korea. Concept

Photo credit: iStock.com/Waldemarus

By Susan Kohn Ross

On September 21, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order (yet to be numbered) (“EO”) imposing additional sanctions on North Korea. It took effect the next day. The general press has quoted Treasury Secretary Mnuchin as stating: “Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that going forward they can choose to do business with the United States or North Korea, but not both.” These latest changes raise the specter for even more caution on the part of companies conducting international business. The question every CFO at every company should ask is – is our due diligence program as good as it needs to be? If not, your funds could get seized and dealing with the Dept. of Justice in these types of cases can be quite challenging.   The government often has information the private sector does not possess and, if your due diligence program is not deemed sufficient, you stand little chance of getting those funds released. Given the current climate, you can bet getting funds released related to the North Korea sanctions is going to be even more difficult!

The new Executive Order is broadly worded to include any person who is determined: (more…)