Trademark Now – or Turmoil Later

While running your business, you have a million things to think about.  Customers, employees, taxes, transactions – the list is endless.  But what about protecting the company’s very identity, goodwill, and brand?  A company’s name and logo are vital to success from a marketing standpoint, and as such you should be doing everything possible to protect them.  A great place to start is by making a promise to yourself and your business that this year all of your identifiers will be properly trademarked.

Trademarking is actually a fairly simple process, and we are here to help.  The first step to registering your trademark is making sure that no one else already owns it. Using the TESS (hyperlink site) page on the US Patent and Trademark Office you can search both words and designs and be sure no one has an identical or strikingly similar business mark for the same category of goods and services offered by your company.   If you don’t own your mark, then anyone can use it and ride on your goodwill, or damage it.

After determining your brand’s legal standing, a registration must be submitted with all of the details of your mark and specific limits on how you will use it. Ideally, the USPTO should respond to you with approval within 6 months of filing your application.  But what if you find that your mark – or a similar one – is already being used?  Even if you have been using it for a longer period of time, your registration will likely be contested.  These are tough waters to navigate, but we are familiar with them. If you find yourself in this situation, give us a call immediately and we will see how we can help you to move forward in getting your business protected.

Registering your mark is not really optional any longer.  Confusingly similar or counterfeit websites, email addresses, and other indicia are rampant.  Surely if you’ve owned “Great Shipping” for 20 years and gained a reputation in your industry, a new business called “Ship Great” can’t open its doors down the road from you in the same exact field? Though that may seem to be common sense, it is not the law. Unfortunately, unless copyrighted or trademarked, a name that is clearly playing off another brand cannot be challenged legally – no matter how similar.  State trademarking, by the way, is generally useless in our opinion.   Only a Federally recognized mark has substantial business protection value.

Be proactive and give us a call today to see how we can help you keep your business, its goodwill, and its identity, safe and uniquely tied to you alone.

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The Death of Intermediaries? Maersk’s Canary in the Coalmine.

Maersk, the world’s leading container ship operator, and Alibaba, the owner of China’s biggest e-commerce platforms, have decided to join forces in what has traditionally been the domain of NVOmaerskfromafarCCs and Freight Forwarders.  The two have established a portal to allow shippers/customers to use Alibaba to book space on Maersk vessels. This union illustrates the growing trend of e-commerce and logistics firms working together, and to me sounds very much like an early warning signal for the great diminishment, if not demise altogether, of NVOCCs and Freight Forwarders.

Effective December 22nd, 2016 Chinese shippers obtained the ability to reserve space through Alibaba’s OneTouch booking website. OneTouch is intended to cater to small and medium-sized Chinese exporters by providing online services including logistics and customs clearance. OneTouch also gives these exporters access to platforms where they can book air freight and parcel delivery services while still supporting the business-to-business marketplace that Alibaba is known for. Traditionally, shippers had gone through freight forwarders in order to book on container vessels.  However, vessel operators such as Maersk are beginning to streamline this process by allowing the beneficial owner of the cargo (the shipper, rather than the shipper’s intermediary) to book directly from the internet.

What does Alibaba gain from its involvement in this? In recent years, Alibaba has been making inroads into logistics services by buying warehouses and taking stakes in couriers.  E-commerce giants are increasingly venturing into logistics in order to enhance their control over the supply chain networks they work with.  Amazon, for example, has dedicated fleets of aircraft, drones, and stores (which are actually mini warehouses/distribution centers), and is rumored to be planning its own U.S. domestic delivery fleet.  Walmart will not remain far behind: its brick and mortar locations and existing truck fleet give it a strong start in the logistics arena.

When asked about the Alibaba partnership, Maersk said that this was part of the shipping line’s plan to provide digitized services to consumers and that it plans to initiate more pilot programs on third-party portals in the near future. Maersk stated that the launch of the service was not focused on bypassing the industry’s traditional middlemen (freight forwarders and NVOCCs), as the OneTouch platform still engages freight forwarders to offer some services, including haulage. Though it may not be the public goal of this joint venture, bypassing intermediaries will inevitably be an effect.

Many tech startups have launched services like this one, attempting to bypass third-party shipping services, but until now Amazon has been the only other high-profile company to venture into these waters. This new partnership between Alibaba and Maersk will add another big name to the list of e-commerce companies exploring a streamlined process, as well as giving carriers a chance to see how these online retail capabilities mesh with their shipping business.  Forwarders and NVOCCs are well-advised to watch this trend closely, and be careful about large investments in physical facilities. A look at today’s ghost towns which were formerly bustling shopping malls gives you a hint of what could be if intermediaries become very easily done without.

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Time is Running Out – Renew Your Registration of Food Facilities Now!

The 2016 Food Facility Registration biennial renewal period is wrapping up! In January of 2011 the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (“FSMA”) was signed into law. It designated a renewal period spanning from 12:00 AM on October 1st to 11:59 PM on December 31st. If an importer’s registration is not renewed during this time, it will be completely removed from the account due to expiration.

The registration renewal window occurs in the same October-December window of every even-numbered year. If you don’t renew in time there is no planned extension; This is not something to put on the back burner! Be sure to note that renewing a registration is a completely different process than updating a registration. You are unable to update without renewal first. On the FFRM main menu, the “Update Facility Registration” button will remain hidden until your registration renewal has been processed.

The main effect that the FSMA had on the shipping industry is that it mandated that any domestic or foreign facility that manufactures, prfdablogpicocesses, packs, or holds food for human or animal consumption in the United States must register with the FDA. If a company meets these requirements but doesn’t renew in time, all food imported from the source is subject to be held at the port upon arrival in the U.S. Because of the severity of this risk, import brokers are encouraged to take early action and contact any clients who import high-volume food shipments and be sure they are updated where they need to be. Clarify that the renewal status is properly associated with their shipments, confirm any new registration numbers, and do so before 2017 rolls around and you’ll be in the clear!

If you have any questions about renewal, updating, or whether or not you meet the requirements contact us and we will gladly help you navigate these regulations.

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What Does The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act Do For You?

The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act was signed into law by President Obama this Spring, allowing U.S. manufacturers to breathe a sigh of relief. The act will help clarify the duty relief process and facilitate the introduction of a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (“MTB”). An MTB is not a new notion.  The last one had three years’ effect, but went “Missing in Action” since its expiration on December 31st, 2012.

So what does an MTB do?  MTBs help to reduce or eliminate entirely the duties on imported commodities that are not produced or available in the U.S.  This acts as a catch-all when a manufacturer is seeking duty suspension on imports because they can’t find a certain article produced domestically and have to source it from overseas. The MTB program was created to protect manufacturers who otherwise would be charged duties on raw materials that they can’t obtain in the United States. Since part of the role of a duty is to raise the cost of imported items in order to keep the US market competitive, and the products affected by an MTB do not have any domestic rivals, it makes sense to drop the duty to help lower production cost for American manufacturers.

Because of their financial benefits, MTBs are beloved by domestic manufacturers. In the absence of enacting another after 2012, American companies have faced what was essentially an annual $748 million tax hike. This also caused the U.S economy to take a major hit, with the House Ways & Means Committee finding a $1.8 billion loss since the last MTB expired.

The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act is not an MTB but rather a pathway allowing for a future MTB to be passed with improved transparency. In the past, companies would go about avoiding a duty by applying to their individual legislator for relief. Now there is a cleaner system, where the importer petitions the International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  The ITC then reviews the requests and lists their recommendations for duty relief of all products that it deems non-controversial.  The use of a non-partisan review committee helps ensure that the new process is not abused. To finish the process, Congress examines the ITC recommendations votes on the package, providing tax breaks if warranted. The act was a political rarity, passing in the House and Senate almost unanimously across both chambers before being signed into law by president Obama.

It is predicted that an MTB following the new path will finally reach a congressional vote in the summer of 2017. Just like the one before it, this relief will have an expiration date, able to remain in effect for no more than three years before a renewal is necessary. Based on the overwhelming support for the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act, it is safe to assume that a new MTB will soon be in action and domestic manufacturers will be able to breathe easy again.

In need of some assistance with navigating these new duty relief processes? We are always happy to help! Contact Us

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Customs Announces Aggressive New Procedures You Need to Know

When foreign manufacturers sell below the cost of production or “fair market value”, it is known as “dumping.”  Dumping is a worldwide issue and phenomenon.  Every country and trade block, and virtually every major multinational and/or trade union is claiming “foul” with regard to some competitor.   Thecvblogimagefinal U.S. attempts to offset any gap in pricing by applying a duty specifically calculated, case by case, to increase the selling price to our evaluated fair market value. Countervailing duties involve a similar issue, arising when a foreign government provides benefits such as tax incentives to exporting companies.  Countervailing duties are adjusted to fit each country’s specific policies, while dumping is calculated per shipment. Because of the need for clarity with ever-changing cost, incentive, rates and duties, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has published new procedures for claim investigations dealing with the evasion of antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing (“CV”) duties as follows.  The purpose is to create additional avenues for spurring investigations of the preceding potential issues.   These are double-edged swords: opportunities for U.S. companies and additional risks for overseas entities.   We are always glad to advise from either perspective.

The Changes

  • Scope and purpose of the interim regulations: These regulations intend to clarify deadlines and procedures that Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) must follow during investigation of an alleged “evasion” of payment by an importer of product subject to AD or CV duties. Evasion is defined as the act by which “any amount of applicable antidumping or countervailing duties [is either] reduced or not being applied with respect to the covered merchandise.” Before the new standards were published, CBP was already authorized to handle AD and CV duty evasion through administering penalties for fraud or negligence. However, prior to the new procedures, if a private party submitted evasion allegations then they themselves did not have the benefit of formal investigative procedures.
  • Process for triggering an investigation: In order to trigger an investigation, the interim regulations give “interested parties” and federal agencies the ability to formally ask that CBP look into an alleged evasion. The regulations specify that an “interested party” refers to manufacturers, producers, exporters, or importers of the merchandise at issue based in the U.S. and overseas. Trade associations and unions comprised of these groups are also able to issue an investigation suggestion.
  • Initiation and notification of investigations ? and possible use of “interim measures”: Once the CPB receives a formal request from either a federal agency or “interested party,” they must evaluate the claim. If they find that the request “reasonably suggests” that the accused importer’s merchandise came into the U.S. through evasion, the CBP will open an investigation. The interim regulations allow CBP to take interim measures where it has a “reasonable suspicion” that the accused importer is evading an AD or CV order. These measures include the suspension of liquidation of the importer’s entries, requiring them to secure a single transaction bond, and ordering that they post a deposit in cash.
  • Creation of administrative record and possible use of adverse facts: Thanks to the interim regulations, CBP is now required to maintain an administrative record with all information it relied upon during the course of its investigation. When CBP is gathering information on an investigation, questionnaires and written correspondence with the parties will be the general methods used. The only material CBP is allowed to use during their assessment of fault is that which has been properly filed in respect to the new regulations. If a party does not cooperate with a CBP information request, then they may be subject to adverse inferences based off of the facts available. The regulations still stand in this situation, as only the information on file may be used pertaining to a non-cooperative party.
  • Treatment of confidential information and alternatives to filing allegation: the interim regulations do not provide for an administrative protective order (“APO”) mechanism. However, interested parties may request that CBP treat submitted information as business confidential information (“BCI”). According to the guidelines, BCI treatment is a right to privacy which will be granted in order to protect trade secrets and confidential commercial or financial information. Identification of the parties involved, description of the merchandise at issue, and specification of the basis upon which the alleging party is interested are all specified as ineligible for BCI treatment because they are so central to the investigation. Because their identity will likely be denied BDI treatment, interested parties may be deterred from lodging an allegation directly. In order to remain anonymous but still trigger an investigation, such parties should consider lobbying a separate federal agency to submit a referral to CBP instead of doing it themselves.
  • Determinations and Reviews: CBP has 300 calendar days, with the possibility of a 60 day extension for unique or especially complicated investigations, to issue a determination of evasion. If it finds that evasion has occurred, measures will be taken against entries of the merchandise  at issue in union with the U.S. Department of Commerce (“DOC”). Additionally, the CBP will assess the appropriate duty rates in conjunction with the DOC, requiring the appropriate cash deposits to be made. Any party involved in the investigation has 30 days to request a de novo administrative review of the CBP’s determination as to evasion. At the close of administrative proceedings, CBP must issue a final administrative determination to the parties. The only possible review at this point would require judicial review by the U.S. Court of International Trade.

These changes were published on August 22nd, 2016 and took effect immediately in accordance with the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. If you have any questions or need any legal help navigating these regulations please don’t hesitate to contact us!

 

 

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SOLAS  New Container Weighing Requirements

Change is on the horizon in the shipping industry, and it is important to make sure you are staying informed. Effective July 1st, 2016, changes adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) regarding verified container weights will become effective. These changes were first introduced at the 2014 Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, but it is now time for implementation. The full text of the applicable SOLAS regulations can be found here

These regulations initially came about as a result of safety issues within the shipping industry. There were problems regarding overweight/underweight containers, misreported freight, poor weight distribution within containers, and more: see “Safety and Shipping Review 2014“. Ideally these changes will help accomplish a reduction in loss of containers from vessels, increased assurance to all parties within the supply chain, and overall improved safety.  These new requirements will apply to all 171 IMO member countries, as well as the three associate members of this organization.

The responsibilities of the shipper (as designated by the bill of lading) under these new regulations are particularly important. The shipper will now be required to verify the gross mass of each container via a signed document; this document must be physically signed (stamps will be unacceptable), and the form must be submitted in time to be used by the master and terminal representatives in the ship’s stowage plan.  The shipper has the option of submitting the container weight via the shipping instructions to the line, or in a specific communication such as a weight certificate. Regardless of submission method, the weight included must be designated as the “verified gross mass” and authorized by the accompanying signature. The shipper is able to determine whether they would prefer to weigh the contents of the container prior to or after loading, but the critical designation is that estimated weights are not permitted. The equipment used to weigh contents must meet national certification requirements, and the party verifying container weight is not permitted to use weight provided by a previous party. Click here for the Implementing Guidelines issued by MSC

The execution of enforcement for this new requirement will be put on the shoulders of the carriers. Essentially, carriers are highly encouraged to refuse to load containers for which a signed weight verification is missing. Refusing to carry these containers will encourage shippers to abide by the new requirements set forth by SOLAS. As July is only a few months away, it is important for shippers to begin proactively planning how they will adjust their processes to abide by these new requirements.

 

If you are in need of additional resources or more information, please visit the following link: http://www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/faqs.

 

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Antidumping Duties: What You Need to Know

As any Customs broker can tell you, there are an ever-increasing number of antidumping duty cases filed. It is imperative that importers (and their brokers) understand this topic.  Dumping duties are tariffs imposed by a government when it believes foreign goods are being sold below their fair market value or cost of production.   The whole world does it. This practice of foreign goods being “dumped” below cost both skews the market and cripples domestic competitors.  In the United States it is not uncommon for antidumping duties to be implemented at rates of 100% or 200% of invoice value;  this is in hopes of protecting domestic competitors and insulating the market from below-cost distortion.  Ideally, this raises the goods’ U.S. sale price to something closer to the cost of production with some profit.  For a complete overview of the countervailing duty petition and investigation process please reference the following handbook released by the United States International Trade Commission: https://www.usitc.gov/trade_remedy/documents/handbook.pdf.

Antidumping duties can be crippling to companies who do not realize they are subject to such payments, which is why it is extremely important to be aware of which duties pertain to the products you import. At this time we have people who sold goods three years ago being advised that they owe 214% duty!  Can you imagine the devastating surprise?   The Mooney Law Firm is involved in antidumping cases involving products such as seafood, ball bearings, solar panels, oversized tires, garlic, auto parts, wooden bedroom furniture,  refrigerator parts, and more; this range of products demonstrates that antidumping cases can be brought in virtually all industries.  As the importer, you are responsible for determining which duties apply to the goods you import.  In addition to payment of back duties, the fines for neglecting to pay these antidumping duties on time are significant, which is why it is critical to be attentive and accountable for what you are importing.   You don’t want that 214% duty bill some years after the goods have been sold!  You are able to search by case number in the following database categorizing all of the active antidumping and countervailing duty cases: http://adcvd.cbp.dhs.gov/adcvdweb/ad_cvd_msgs?utf8=%E2%9C%93&commit=View+most+recent+messages.

Note that the agency responsible for enforcing antidumping duties is the Department of Commerce: most mistakenly assume it is Customs.  Under the umbrella of the DOC, the United States International Trade Commission is the federal agency in charge of investigating claims of dumping.  As an importer you have an obligation to be accountable for the product you bring in, and an important piece of this is abiding by the proper duty payments.

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FMC Remains Aggressive with Penalties

Since the summer (2015) there have been penalty settlements announced by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) which total in excess of $2,000,000.00.  Its Bureau of Enforcement (BOE) is the arm of the Commission specifically focused on prosecution.  The BOE investigates violations of the Shipping Act as well as enforces FMC regulations, and Bureau attorneys are the ones who act as trial counsel in all formal Commission proceedings.  Often a settlement is reached between violating parties and Bureau attorneys, and detailed below are some notably large cases from the past year.   Settlements generally avoid any admission of wrongdoing, and avoid the extensive time and money expenditure required by administrative trials.

In August, the BOE announced FMC collections of $1,227,500.00.  These collections were made in the form of penalty payments by a variety of different parties, including seven different non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) and one vessel-operating common carrier (VOCC).  The violations alleged of the NVOCCs included unlawfully collecting forwarder compensation, misrepresenting the names of shipper accounts, allowing improper parties to access service contracts, knowingly obtaining transportation less than applicable rates, and more. The most heavily penalized party was the vessel operator United Arab Shipping Company; it was charged with violating 46 U.S.C. 41104(1) and 46 U.S.C. 41104(2) for allegedly paying unlawful rebates to a shipper and providing transportation at rates inconsistent with their published tariff.  In total, United Arab Shipping Company paid $537,500.00 in penalties to the agency.

In September another announcement was made regarding penalty collections, but this time only one party was involved.  A VOCC based in Norway named Siem Car Carriers was found to be in violation of 46 U.S.C. 41102(b).  In this case the violations were voluntarily disclosed, and an agreement was reached in which Siem paid $135,000.00 in penalties.  The Chairman of the FMC, Mario Cordero, states, “Voluntary disclosures can serve to diminish carrier exposure to very significant monetary penalties.”  Based on this, it is reasonable to assume that Siem would have been responsible for greater penalties if they had not taken the initiative to disclose this information voluntarily.   In January of this year we presented our first seminar on voluntary disclosure to Federal agencies.   It is interesting to see how the disclosed entity paid roughly 25% of what the non-disclosing entity paid above, though of course the facts and extent of the alleged violations may have differed greatly.

In December 2015, still more violations were announced, and this time they involved freight forwarders, NVOCCs, and two unlicensed entities acting as ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs). The British Association of Removers and Sparx Logistics are both NVOCCs that allegedly violated FMC regulations by obtaining ocean transportation at lower than applicable rates; while neither company admitted to actually doing so, they did agree to settle and pay penalties. Wilhelmsen Ships Services and N/J International are licensed NVOCCs and freight forwarders which were involved in cases charging them with operating without a valid Qualifying Individual for a period of over one year. As a result, both companies were ordered to pay penalties to the FMC. Lastly, Azap Motors and Knopf International are unlicensed entities that were both alleged to be offering OTI services without a proper FMC license. Both companies agreed to pay penalties, and Azap Motors even dissolved as a company.  Collections from penalty violations totaled $334,000.00 for the month overall.

As 2016 has kicked off, so have the FMC collections. It was announced recently that the FMC collected a total of $520,000.00 through civil penalties in the month of February.  These penalties came from four different OTIs (both NVOCCs and freight forwarders) and one VOCC. It is important to note that in that month all NVOCCs were penalized for the same action: they allegedly obtained transportation at less than applicable rates. The FMC takes this seriously, and it is important to ensure you are paying a fair price for transportation as set by tariffs.   Misrepresentation of weight, volume or commodity is dealt with harshly by the agency.

You can learn a great deal from examining past FMC penalties.  When dealing with trade and transportation it is your responsibility to understand the regulations set forth by the FMC as well as the Shipping Act, and to ensure that your actions are in accordance with these guidelines.  Otherwise, as we have seen in these cases, severe penalties may be assessed letting the agency laugh all the way to the bank.

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2016: The Year of Cuba

2016 has kicked off with some big changes, many of which pertain to the United State’s relationship with Cuba. On January 27th, 2016, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced new regulations that further reduce U.S. sanctions on Cuba. Translation: things are looking up in terms of repairing a long-term strained relationship between the two. These modifications relate to financing, exportation, and travel; they further liberalize bilateral access and promote improved relations between the United States and Cuba. Since January, regulations have steadily been chipped away at an effort to slowly dilute the embargo; these include regulations eased as recently as March 15th.

Previously, there were very strict regulations regarding payment and financing terms for non-agricultural exports to Cuba. C.O.D. was the only means of payment allowed: credit was forbidden. However, many of these terms have now been reduced or repealed, allowing for payments of cash in advance, sales on an open account, and financing by a third-party country or the U.S. In support of this, a regulation was promulgated on March 15th to ease the transfer of money between Cuban and American banks. Establishing expanded methods and means of financing helps encourage trade and exchange between the U.S. and Cuba, and it is an important step in growing the relationship between the two.

In addition, regulations regarding U.S. exports were altered. Licenses for exports of food and services which are deemed to aid Cuba have been expanded; this category now includes telecommunications, agricultural, civil aviation safety, and news gathering software items. This expansion allows a larger variety of items to be sent to Cuba, and a case-by-case basis licensing policy has been introduced for even more additional items.

The most drastic changes are those regarding travel. OFAC (the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which regulates embargos) has now approved an expanded number of business-related travel reasons; these include professional conferences, sports competitions, artistic expeditions, humanitarian projects, market research, and sales/contract negotiation. It is important to note that travel blatantly for tourism alone is still banned, but there are an increasing number of ways to circumvent this. As of March 15th individual travel is permitted for “people-to-people missions”; this includes any trip which involves a meaningful cultural exchange with Cuban people. This is a big development, as previously this category was limited to tour groups only. Since commercial flights to Cuba are scheduled to resume in the Fall, it is an appropriate time for these more lenient travel regulations to be taking form.  Given these new “people-to-people ” rules, it seems a foregone conclusion that individuals who make, let’s say, culturally driven sojourns with enjoyable side trips are very unlikely to find themselves under threat of prosecution at this time.

President Obama announced in February his plans to make a trip to Cuba in this month; it will be the first time an American President has visited Cuba in 88 years. The goal to repair and expand relations with Cuba through enhanced communication and travel was originally announced by Obama in December 2014, and this seems to be a big step in that direction. It is sure to be worthwhile keeping an eye out for regulatory chanages regarding import, export, trade, financing, and more as relations between the U.S. and Cuba continue to warm.

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The Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015

The Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015 was passed by the Senate on February 11th, 2016 in a 75-20 vote. Now that the bill has been passed by the House and the Senate, the final piece of the puzzle is for President Obama to sign the bill into law. Given that this is projected to be enacted by the President soon, it is imperative for international traders to understand its key provisions.

The Act is split into 9 different sections with an overall focus on facilitating and enforcing trade; this will help to promote U.S. global opportunities while keeping the playing field level and fair. Key provisions of the Act focus on enhancing enforcement of international trade laws, providing stronger protection for international intellectual property, and modernizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) processes. According to an article published by The Washington Examiner, “Current customs rules that have not fully embraced technological and trade advances are creating bottlenecks at the border that impede the just-in-time manufacturing process, which is critical to the productivity, efficiency, and global competitiveness of the U.S.” Passing this bill marks the first, long overdue, significant update to CBP processes and policies in over 10 years.

Three aspects of the bill are of particular interest. First, the focus on strengthening anti-evasion procedures is key via establishment of a Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Division at CBP’s Office of Trade. This division will be specifically aimed at preventing the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders. If it is determined that evasion has occurred, CBP is required to suspend liquidation of entries and enforce the appropriate cash deposit rate for the merchandise. Updates streamline the process for investigating evasion and assessing the corresponding penalty.

Another area of focus in the bill is intellectual property protection, manifested through the creation of a greater National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center. It will focus on investigating sources of merchandise that infringe intellectual property rights. The thought is to advance U.S. competitiveness globally by identifying those responsible for producing, smuggling, or distributing copyrighted and/or trademarked merchandise, rather than just seizing the end products when discovered.

Lastly, the Act drastically alters provisions regarding duty drawback. Essentially new provisions simplify drawback procedures by extending the deadline for filing drawback claims. It rises to five years while creating more transparency in the calculation of drawback refunds, and establishing a standard for classification of substitution drawback items.

Overall, this seems to be a piece of legislation that will help to advance the American economy when signed into law. While this brief post is only able to focus on certain key highlights, there are many changes proposed within the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015 that are significant and impactful. To view the bill in its entirety, please visit the following link: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/644/text

If you have any further questions regarding The Mooney Law Firm or the services we provide, please contact us today!

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