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CBP Enters Next Phase of Importer Security Filing
Preparation for Liquidated Damages Phase Begins
U.S. Customs & Border Protection http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/local/06072013_6.xml

WASHINGTON— U. S. Customs and Border Protection is making preparations to enter into the liquidated damages phase of the Importer Security Filing (ISF) enforcement process, which takes effect next month.

“The Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements are part of CBP’s layered enforcement strategy,” said Acting Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski. “CBP works collaboratively and collectively with the other agencies and the trade to maintain the highest level of security and safety for our nation while facilitating legitimate trade.”

CBP will begin the liquidated damages phase of ISF enforcement on July 9, 2013, adding to the use of manifest holds and non-intrusive inspections to enforce ISF compliance. In order to achieve maximum compliance with the least amount of disruption to the trade and to domestic port operations, CBP has been applying a measured and commonsense approach to enforcement.

CBP may issue liquidated damages of $5,000 per violation for the submission of an inaccurate, incomplete or untimely filing. Liquidated damages in simplified terms refer to a penalty secured by a bond. If goods for which an ISF has not been filed arrive in the U.S., CBP may withhold the release or transfer of the cargo. For carrier violations of the vessel stow plan requirement, CBP may refuse to grant a permit to unlade for the merchandise. Additionally, noncompliant cargo could be subject to further inspection on arrival.
The ISF and Additional Carrier Requirements were borne out of the Security and Accountability For Every (SAFE) Port Act of 2006 which required the filing of additional advance data elements to help CBP to make earlier and more informed targeting decisions and improve CBP’s ability to target high-risk U.S.-bound containerized vessel cargo prior to its arrival in the U.S.

The 10+2 rule was published in the Federal Register on November 25, 2008 and has been in effect since January 26, 2009.


FTC Proposes Changes to Align the Fur Labeling Rule Guarantee Provisions with Similar Proposed Provisions in the Textile Rules
Federal Trade Commission / http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2013/06/furrules.shtm

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking public comment on proposed changes to the guaranty provisions of the Fur Rules, under the Fur Products Labeling Act.  These changes would align the Fur Rules with proposed changes to the guaranty provisions of the Rules under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act.

The Fur Rules require manufacturers and retailers to label fur products with certain information, such as the animal’s name and an imported fur’s country of origin.  The Textile Rules require that certain textiles sold in the United States carry labels disclosing the generic names and percentages by weight of the fibers in the product, the manufacturer or marketer name, and the country where the product was processed or manufactured.

The Fur and Textile Acts shield entities that obtain guaranties from product providers from liability – guaranties that designate particular products, and continuing guaranties that apply to all products transferred from a particular guarantor.  The guaranty protections apply only to entities that receive a guaranty in good faith.  In April 2013 the FTC proposed changes to the Textile Rules’ guaranty provision which are similar to these proposed Fur Rules changes.  

In September 2012, the FTC proposed changes addressing other issues in the Fur Rules. The FTC will seek comment on the proposed changes to the Fur Rules’ guaranty provisions before finalizing the changes proposed in September 2012, and then publish a single document announcing all Fur Rules changes at once in order to help businesses understand their compliance obligations.

Instructions for filing comments on proposed changes to the Fur Rules will appear in the Federal Register soon.  Comments must be received by July 23, 2013.  All comments received will be posted on the FTC website.

The Commission vote approving the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was 4-0.  It is available on the FTC’s website and as a link to this press release and will be published in the Federal Register soon.  (FTC File No. P074201; the staff contact is Matthew Wilshire, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 202-326-2976)

For more information, read How to Comply with the Fur Products Labeling Act and the complete Rules and Regulations Under the Fur Products Labeling Act.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.  To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).  The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 2,000 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  The FTC’s website provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.  Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.


Federal Circuit Dismisses Tariff Gender-Discrimination Cases
Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP ( Robert Silverman or Robert F. Seely )/ http://www.gdlsk.com/knowledge/283-federal-circuit-dismisses-tariff-gender-discrimination-cases.html

On June 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Court”) affirmed the decision of the Court of International Trade (“CIT”) to dismiss challenges to alleged gender discrimination in certain tariff subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS”). The Court issued its unanimous decision in Rack Room Shoes v. United States, which also consolidated the appeals of Skiz Imports, LLC (“Skiz”) and Forever 21.

Plaintiff’s “Standing”[1] to Bring the Action.  The Court affirmed the legal “standing” of importers Rack Room and Forever 21 to raise the constitutional issue of equal protection on behalf of U.S. purchasers of imported footwear and apparel to whom the importers were presumed to pass on their higher gender-specific and age-specific tariff payments.  In doing so, it relied on its decision in Totes-Isotoner Corp. v. United States, 594 F. 3d 1346 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (“Totes”).  However, the Court dismissed the Skiz case rather than affirm the CIT’s decision that Skiz had standing to challenge the alleged tariff discrimination.

Sufficiency of Plaintiff’s Complaint.  In dismissing these cases, the Court’s reaffirmed its holding in Totes that the gender- and age-specific tariff provisions are “not facially discriminatory” because they “distinguish on the basis of products, not natural people.”  Totes, 594 F. 3d at 1359.  The Court cited with approval the explanation set forth in Totes that “[t]he happenstance that the English language does not have separate names for these particular products, thus requiring reference to the gender of the intended wearer, does not transform the distinction into facial discrimination.”  Id. at 1360.

By affirming its prior finding regarding the age- and gender-neutrality of the tariff provisions at issue, the Court set the standard of pleading very high.  In order to establish a prima facie case, the plaintiff would have to allege sufficient facts to establish (if true) that Congress intentionally and purposefully discriminated based on age and gender in enacting the subject tariff provisions.  The Court concluded that the importers did not plead “facts sufficient to make plausible their claim that Congress enacted the relevant provisions of the HTSUS with discriminatory intent.”

Specifically, the Court held one could not infer specific discriminatory governmental intent from the fact that Congress could have chosen to describe the products in terms of materials and other non-gender-specific criteria.  The Court held that that discrimination by Congress was not apparent from the fact that it assigned different age- and gender-specific rates of duty to a single class of goods (e.g., footwear described in the tariff by certain physical characteristics, “for men,” and the same physical characteristics, “for women”).  The Court found that “the fact that merchandise is in the same class says nothing about whether a plausible inference exists that the classifications were adopted with discriminatory intent.”  As it had stated in Totes, tariff rates are “the result of multilateral negotiations that reflect reciprocal trade concessions and particularized trade preferences.”  Id. at 1357.  The importers have thirty (30) days to request an additional hearing at the Appellate court, and sixty (60) days to file a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.
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[1] “Standing” is a determination that the person bringing the lawsuits has a legally protectable stake or interest in a dispute that entitles him or her to bring the case before the court to obtain relief.


FSIS Proposes New Labeling Rules for Mechanically Tenderized Beef Products
 U.S. Department of Agriculture / http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/NR_060613_01/index.asp

New labels and cooking instructions will give consumers information they need to safely enjoy these products

"Ensuring that consumers have effective tools and information is important in helping them protect their families against foodborne illness," said Under Secretary Elisabeth Hagen. "This proposed rule would enhance food safety by providing clear labeling of mechanically-tenderized beef products and outlining new cooking instructions so that consumers and restaurants can safely prepare these products."

To increase tenderness, some cuts of beef go through a process known as mechanical tenderization, during which they are pierced by needles or sharp blades in order to break up muscle fibers. Research has shown that this process may transfer pathogens present on the outside of the cut to the interior. Because of the possible presence of pathogens in the interior of the product, mechanically tenderized beef products may pose a greater threat to public health than intact beef products, if they are not cooked properly.

The proposed rule would require that mechanically tenderized product is labeled so that consumers know they are purchasing product that has been mechanically tenderized. The rule would also require the labels of mechanically tenderized product to display validated cooking instructions, so that consumers have the information they need to cook this product in a way that destroys illness-causing pathogens.

Since 2003, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received reports of five outbreaks attributable to needle or blade tenderized beef products prepared in restaurants and consumers' homes. Failure to thoroughly cook a mechanically tenderized raw or partially cooked beef product was a significant contributing factor in all of these outbreaks. In developing this proposed rule, FSIS used data from its own research, from the Agricultural Research Service, and from the CDC to determine the public health risk associated with undercooking mechanically tenderized products, and the benefits of the proposed rule.
 

The proposal was posted today on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/
Proposed_Rules/index.asp and soon will publish in the Federal Register. The comment period will end 60 days after the proposal publishes in the Federal Register and must be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, OPPD, RIMD, Docket Clearance Unit, Patriots Plaza III, Room 8-164, 355 E Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-3221. All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number, which will be assigned when it is published in the Federal Register. 


ICE, CBP Warn Consumers About Counterfeit Sports Merchandise during NBA and NHL Playoffs
U.S. Customs & Border Protection / http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/national/06112013_5.xml

Washington — With the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Playoffs in full swing, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) warned the public today to beware of purchasing counterfeit sports apparel and tickets to playoff games.

Fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs are among the counterfeit merchandise and clothing typically sold at these events. Additionally, authorities have seen an increase in the sale of counterfeit tickets being sold to these events. Large sporting events such as the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Playoffs are prime targets for counterfeiters, many of whom travel the country with the sole intention of scamming innocent sports fans. According to the International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition, businesses worldwide lose an estimated $600 – 700 billion annually due to counterfeiting.

"The playoffs for these two leagues are meant to be a chance to celebrate the success of our favorite sports teams,” said IPR Center Director Lev Kubiak. “Instead, organized criminals are preying on that excitement, ripping consumers off with counterfeit merchandise and stealing from the American businesses who have worked hard to build a trusted brand."

“CBP remains ever vigilant in targeting, identifying and seizing shipments of counterfeit sports merchandise, including nearly $27 million worth seized in FY 2012,” said Assistant Commissioner Allen Gina. “CBP works closely with our partners in ICE/HSI to ensure violations of intellectual and property law are investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

HSI and CBP regularly team up with other federal agencies and state and local law enforcement during significant sporting events like the playoffs. 'Operation Red Zone' targeted counterfeit products surrounding NFL games between September 2012 and February 2013. The operation netted 196,333 items including fake jerseys, ball caps, t-shirts, jackets and other souvenirs. The items had a manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) of more than $17.3 million. Special agents from HSI, CBP, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local police departments around the country worked in partnership with the NFL and other major sports leagues during the operation. In all, 168 tickets were seized with an MSRP of more than $154,000. Forty-one individuals were arrested nationwide during the operation including six federal and 35 state and local arrests.

Although counterfeiters are becoming smarter, fans can keep several key factors in mind when making purchases to avoid being victimized:

  • Shop at authorized retail locations, such as the official team stores rather than buying items from street vendors, flea markets, online auctions or other questionable sources
  • Look out for ripped tags or irregular markings on apparel
  • If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While some counterfeiters may attract fans with a low price tag or 2-for-1 deal, just as many try to legitimize their merchandise with a higher price point. Purchasing authorized league merchandise guarantees the quality and life of that souvenir, while also providing a reputable source for concerns, returns, and exchanges.

Intellectual and Property Rights enforcement is a priority trade issue for CBP. CBP protects businesses and consumers every day through an aggressive IPR enforcement program. CBP targets and seizes imports of counterfeit and pirated goods, and enforces exclusion orders on patent-infringing and other IPR violative goods.

The HSI-led IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. Working in close coordination with the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety and the U.S. economy.

To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit the IPR Center website.  ( IPR Center )


Marine Terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports to Power Docked Ships with Electricity by Year-End
PierPass Inc. / http://pierpass.org/2013/05/20/marine-terminals-at-los-angeles-and-long-beach-ports-to-power-docked-ships-with-electricity-by-year-end/

LONG BEACH, Calif., May 20, 2013 – PierPass Inc. today announced that all 13 international cargo terminals at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach will be ready to deliver shore power to ships at berth by the end of this year, an investment that will significantly reduce air pollution in and around the ports.

The infrastructure to supply shore power – also known as cold ironing or Alternative Marine Power (AMP) – is being installed in support of clean air initiatives led by the two ports and the California Air Resources Board (ARB). ARB has mandated that by Jan. 1, 2014, half of all visits by container cargo, refrigerated cargo and cruise vessels must be powered by electricity. The rule applies to fleets making at least 25 visits per year to California ports.

Currently, most ships power themselves while at berth by continuously running on-board auxiliary diesel engines, during visits that typically last about 24 hours. Ships are the single largest source of port-related pollutants including particulate matter, oxides of sulfur and oxides of nitrogen. Shore power cuts air pollution from a ship at berth by 95 percent, according to the Port of Long Beach.

“Terminal operators are working hard to help the ports and ARB implement this important clean air measure,” said Bruce Wargo, president of PierPass. “As part of the ongoing innovations and investments that have made the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach the cleanest and most efficient in the country, the shore power initiative will deliver significant air quality benefits to port workers and nearby communities.”

Nearly half the terminals in the ports are already offering shore power in at least some of their berths. These include WBCT, TraPac, YTI and STS at the Port of Los Angeles, and Pier C60 (SSA) and ITS at the Port of Long Beach.

Working with the ports and ARB to enable shore power is only the latest measure taken by the marine terminal operators (MTOs) to improve air quality around the ports. PierPass and its member terminal operators continue to offer night gate operations that move truck traffic out of peak daytime hours, reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality. Terminals are currently offering 55 OffPeak gates across 13 terminals, in addition to 65 daytime gates, for a total of 120 gates per week for cargo pickup and delivery. 

 

Nogales CBP Seizes Marijuana in Peppers Shipment
U.S. Customs & Border Protection /  http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/newsroom/news_releases/local/06102013_6.xml

Nearly $1.16 million in marijuana seized Friday

Nogales, Ariz. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers assigned to the Port of Nogales Commercial Facility seized more than 2,300 pounds of marijuana Friday from inside a tractor-trailer attempting to enter the United States. The driver, a 27-year-old Mexican national, was arrested in connection with the seizure.

Officers referred the Nogales, Sonora, Mexico resident for an additional inspection of the Freightliner tractor-trailer he was driving when he attempted to enter the United States. After a routine inspection of the shipment, a CBP narcotics detection canine alerted to the presence of drugs in the shipment. A total of 99 bundles of marijuana were co-mingled with the peppers.

The drugs, produce and tractor-trailer were processed for seizure. The unidentified driver was referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

CBP's Office of Field Operations is the primary organization within Homeland Security tasked with an anti-terrorism mission at our nation’s ports. CBP officers screen all people, vehicles and goods entering the United States while facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. Their mission also includes carrying out border-related duties, including narcotics interdiction, enforcing immigration and trade laws, and protecting the nation's food supply and agriculture industry from pests and diseases.
 
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