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Customs Issues Latest Guidance For Verifications Of Trade Preference Claims (Textiles And Wearing Apparel)

Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP /

As importers of textiles and apparel have observed in recent years, verifications of duty-free / preferential duty claims can oftentimes involve dizzying requests for a myriad of extremely detailed documents -- with claims being subject to rejection for seemingly inconsequential omissions or minor inconsistencies. The exercise has been further complicated by differing interpretations among the ports as to the nature of the required documents.

In its latest effort to provide uniformity and clarity on the issue, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) has recently issued additional guidance to the field and the trade. Highlights of the latest guidelines (which were developed based on inquiries into port practices, importer comments, and recent protest decisions) include the following:

• With the exception of the NAFTA Certificate of Origin, no specific format for origin certifications or affidavits of origin is required (provided they include all relevant required information).

• When the satisfaction of a claim is not immediately apparent from the documents, they should be organized (and possibly numbered) and accompanied by a clear written explanation.

• If a document covers more materials than were used in production of the goods under review, an accompanying note should identify the relevant materials.

• Where Customs officials identify omissions caused by oversight or inaccurate translations, they should seek clarifications and additional information that could be supportive of the claim.

• A duty preference claim should not be denied based on the absence of a document Customs did not request. However, if Customs issued a broad request for supporting documentation and the information was not provided in any format, denial would be appropriate.

• Customs will consider an affidavit stating that a material “was or will be sold” (as opposed to simply “was sold”) to be ambiguous. If an affidavit is deemed ambiguous or incomplete, CBP may require records clarifying the ambiguity (e.g., purchase orders, invoices, bills of lading, etc. demonstrating when the materials were actually sold).

• Affidavits should be signed. If unsigned (or where other affidavit questions are raised), Customs may contact the affidavit issuers to confirm validity.

• An affidavit may, but need not, appear on letterhead. A letterhead that implies that the company produces a material other than that in question should not be used to deny a claim.

Finally, the Customs memorandum encourages ports to reach out to importers for explanations that may help to prevent the filing of unnecessary protests as well as to educate importers where potential deficiencies in preference program record retention and submissions are identified. At the same time, importers are reminded not to submit carelessly prepared submissions with the expectation that Customs will repeatedly request clarification and corrections.

Should you have any questions concerning the recent Customs guidance or documenting preference program claims in general, please contact Arthur W. Bodek.



U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Port Authority Reach Agreement to Maintain Security and Continue Trade Operations at Red Hook Container Terminal

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

New York— U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey today announced the signing of an agreement to maintain security at the Red Hook Container Terminal. The agreement maintains operations and trade facilitation at Red Hook, and enables continued CBP operations and examinations at the Brooklyn facility through January 8, 2017.

The agreement is the result of close collaboration between CBP and the Port Authority and takes into account the unique geography and terminal operations at Red Hook, the potential economic impact if certain aspects of CBP’s operations were moved off the terminal, and the overall flow of trade through the port and the region. It will ensure the safety of the CBP inspectional areas on the terminal, and will allow for all types of CBP examinations to be completed at the terminal to secure international trade.

“Our collaboration with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is a good example of Federal and State/Local authorities working together to increase security and safety, while reducing transaction costs and expediting trade to the benefit of the local and regional economy,” said Robert E. Perez, Director of CBP’s New York Field Operations. “We very much appreciate our outstanding working relationship with the Port Authority.”

“We applaud the efforts of our Congressional delegation to help address this issue with CBP,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “We thank CBP for its commitment to Red Hook and for listening to us and the Congressional delegation and doing the right thing for the region’s port.”

The agreement followed extensive discussions among officials and took into account the unique geography and terminal operations at Red Hook, the potential economic and environmental impact if certain aspects of CBP’s operations were moved off the terminal, and the overall flow of trade through the port and the region. The agreement with CBP provides the incentive for planned new investments at the terminal and along the Brooklyn waterfront over the next five years.

The Red Hook Container Terminal serves a niche market for commodities from the Mediterranean, South America and Latin America that are destined for east of the Hudson River. Today, 20 percent of the cargo at the port terminal is destined for locations east of the Hudson River.

Red Hook currently handles $3.8 billion in total retail value commodities. The terminal’s primary imports are produce products and high end beverages. Its primary exports are household goods, foodstuffs and medical equipment.



CBP Busts Net $1.3 Billion in Cocaine in One Week
Florida-based CBP P-3s detect three drug vessels

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Washington — In three separate incidents in a one-week period, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) P-3s operating out of National Air Security Operations Centers in Jacksonville, Fla. (NASOC-JAX) and Corpus Christi, Texas (NASOC-CC), assisted in the interdiction of a Self Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) carrying close to 14,000 pounds of cocaine, and two go-fast vessels carrying more than 4,400 pounds of cocaine with a combined value of more than $1.3 billion.

On March 29, two P-3s operating in the Western Caribbean assisted the Joint Interagency Task Force-South (JIATF-S) in locating and tracking a SPSS off the coast of Nicaragua. The crew scuttled the SPSS but authorities recovered 13,889 pounds of cocaine worth more than $1 billion.

On March 30, a P-3 operating in the Western Caribbean spotted a go-fast vessel carrying suspicious bales. The 40-foot twin-engine vessel was spotted speeding north off the coast of Panama and appeared to be carrying numerous packages when the Florida-based CBP P-3 began tracking the vessel. A local law enforcement patrol boat was vectored in to board the vessel and after inspection, 2,200 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $164 million were recovered.

On April 4, a P-3 conducting routine patrols in the Western Caribbean detected an open-hull go-fast vessel containing rectangular bales off the coast of Panama. Local law enforcement officials were called in to pursue, and after boarding the vessel, 2,200 pounds of cocaine worth approximately $164 million were seized and four crewmembers were arrested.

These three seizures are in addition to $1.3 billion detected by the CBP P-3s operating out of Jacksonville, Fla. and Corpus Christi, Texas in fiscal year 2012 to date.

During fiscal year 2011, the CBP P-3 fleet continued its anti-smuggling success by seizing or disrupting more than 148,000 pounds of cocaine valued at more than $11.1 billion, totaling 20.6 pounds seized for every flight hour, valued at $1.5 million for every hour flown.

CBP OAM P-3s have been an integral part of the successful counter-narcotic missions operating in coordination with the Joint Interagency Task Force – South (JIATFS). The P-3s patrol in a 42 million-square mile area of the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, known as the Source and Transit Zone, in search of drugs that are in transit towards U.S. shores. The P-3s’ distinctive detection capabilities allow highly-trained crews to identify emerging threats well beyond the land borders of the U.S. By providing surveillance of known air, land, and maritime smuggling routes in an area that is twice the size of the continental U.S., the P-3s detect, monitor and disrupt smuggling activities before they reach shore.



Port Surveillance News: CPSC Investigators Find, Stop Nearly 650,000 Unsafe Products at the Start of Fiscal Year 2012

Consumer Product Safety Commission /


FDA Takes Steps to Protect Public Health
Agency working with animal, drug and medical communities to promote judicious antimicrobial use

U.S. Food & Drug Adminstration /

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it is taking three steps to protect public health and promote the judicious use of medically important antibiotics in food-producing animals.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria or other microbes develop the ability to resist the effects of a drug. Once this occurs, a drug may no longer be as effective in treating various illnesses or infections. Because it is well established that all uses of antimicrobial drugs, in both humans and animals, contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance, it is important to use these drugs only when medically necessary. Based on a consideration of relevant reports and scientific data, FDA is proposing a voluntary initiative to phase in certain changes to how medically important antimicrobial drugs are labeled and used in food-producing animals. FDA is taking this action to help preserve the effectiveness of medically important antimicrobials for treating disease in humans.

Today, the FDA is issuing three documents that will help veterinarians, farmers and animal producers use medically important antibiotics judiciously in food-producing animals by targeting their use to only address diseases and health problems. Under this new voluntary initiative, certain antibiotics would not be used for so-called “production” purposes, such as to enhance growth or improve feed efficiency in an animal. These antibiotics would still be available to prevent, control or treat illnesses in food-producing animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.

“It is critical that we take action to protect public health,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The new strategy will ensure farmers and veterinarians can care for animals while ensuring the medicines people need remain safe and effective. We are also reaching out to animal producers who operate on a smaller scale or in remote locations to help ensure the drugs they need to protect the health of their animals are still available.”

The FDA is publishing three documents today in the Federal Register.

  • A final guidance for industry, The Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food-Producing Animals, that recommends phasing out the agricultural production use of medically important drugs and phasing in veterinary oversight of therapeutic uses of these drugs.
  • A draft guidance, open for public comment, which will assist drug companies in voluntarily removing production uses of antibiotics from their FDA-approved product labels; adding, where appropriate, scientifically-supported disease prevention, control, and treatment uses; and changing the marketing status to include veterinary oversight.
  • A draft proposed Veterinary Feed Directive regulation, open for public comment, that outlines ways that veterinarians can authorize the use of certain animal drugs in feed, which is important to make the needed veterinary oversight feasible and efficient.

“USDA worked with the FDA to ensure that the voices of livestock producers across the country were taken into account,” said Dr. John Clifford, USDA Chief Veterinary Medical Officer, “and we will continue to collaborate with the FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association and livestock groups to ensure that the appropriate services are available to help make this transition.”


TOP STORY: Cultural Property Investigations Span the Globe

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) /

Criminals have illegally traded cultural art and antiquities for as long as history dates. Today, illicit trafficking of cultural items has become an $8 billion business that knows no borders.

Federal importation laws task U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with investigating crimes related to the illicit importation and distribution of cultural property and art. These laws permit HSI to seize cultural property and art brought into the United States, especially when objects have been reported lost or stolen.

"These objects are important parts of the culture and history of countries," said Special Agent Craig Karch. "Many of these objects are some of the most important pieces that ever get discovered."

In January, HSI repatriated a monotype, a one-of-a-kind print made by painting on a sheet or slab of glass and transferring the still-wet painting to a sheet of paper. This monotype was stolen from a French museum in 1981. Special agents discovered it prior to a Sotheby's New York auction. In February, HSI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection returned eight Mayan artifacts to the Guatemalan government. The artifacts were illegally exported from Guatemala and date back to 600 to 900 A.D. Later this month, HSI will return "Christ Carrying the Cross Dragged by a Rogue," a painting stolen by Nazi sympathizers from a Jewish-Italian family during World War II, to its rightful owners.

"We have a tremendous responsibility that transcends us as people, institution or country in returning cultural property to its country of origin or rightful owner. These objects are irreplaceable, not souvenirs or trophies," said Program Manager Debbie Hardos. "It's the right thing to do."

Since 2007, ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have repatriated more than 2,500 objects to more than 23 countries. Karch credits an increase in public awareness for the increase in investigative leads.

"The more people who know that HSI conducts these investigations, the more leads we receive and the better chance we have of returning illicitly trafficked cultural property or art to their rightful owners," said Karch.

Learn more about cultural property, art and antiquities investigations

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