August 2021

U.S. Warns of Risks to Businesses in Hong Kong (From Sandler Travis & Rosenberg)

The advisory warns businesses that “the risks faced in mainland China are now increasingly present in Hong Kong.” Specifically, policies that the governments of China and Hong Kong have implemented “undermine the legal and regulatory environment that is critical for individuals and businesses to operate freely and with legal certainty in Hong Kong.” U.S. businesses, individuals, and others with operations and activities in Hong Kong face potential reputational, economic, and legal risks by maintaining a presence in that region and should apply due diligence policies and procedures to address those risks, according to a new business advisory from four U.S. government departments. For more information, please go here.

Surging Cargo Rates Caused by Unlawful Carrier Actions, Shipper Complaint Says (From Sandler Travis & Rosenberg)

A U.S. shipper alleged in a complaint filed recently with the Federal Maritime Commission that surging freight transportation rates are due in part to statutory violations being committed by at least two major vessel carriers. The FMC is already investigating the reasons behind the cost increases but the new complaint could result in monetary penalties if the carriers are found at fault. For more information, please go here.

CSMS #48968987 – Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Announces Effective Date of Phase Six of Lacey Act Enforcement Schedule to begin October 1, 2021 (From CBP)

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 amended the Lacey Act to provide, among other things, that importers submit a declaration at the time of importation for certain plants and plant products. Enforcement of the declaration requirement began on April 1, 2009, and products requiring a declaration are being phased-in. The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of a change in the date of implementation for Phase VI of the enforcement schedule. Implementation of Phase VI of the Lacey Act enforcement schedule will begin October 1, 2021. Please contact us for more information.

Accelerating Customs Enforcement Efforts Highlight Importance of Compliance (From Sandler, Travis, and Rosenberg)

A number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s trade enforcement measures, including penalties, seizures, and cargo detentions, accelerated in the first half of fiscal year 2021. These trends highlight the need for importers to develop, implement, and monitor effective compliance programs. For more information, please go here.

Ed. Note:  We offer “pre-audit reviews”, which examine your records for compliance.  Please contact Sandy or me for more information.

Congress to pass legislation increasing and further enforcing forced labor sanctions (From NCBFAA)

The National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Assn, which has spoken for our industry for over 120 years, has long been highly regarded for our lobbying counsels and their successes.  At the July Board of Directors meeting, our lobbying counsels reported that Congress will almost certainly pass legislation increasing and further enforcing forced labor sanctions.  The timing is still unclear, but definitely during this session.  There are VERY few issues on which most or all of Congress can agree, but this is one!  We are repeating an article from the June newsletter for your convenience.

CBP intensifies crackdown on imports using forced labor (Repeated from June newsletter)

As reported [in May], forced labor withhold release orders were up 116.7 percent, and WRO-related detentions were up 2600 percent!  Customs announced earlier this month they are requesting from the trade their best practices in how to identify the complex routes materials take in the supply chain, and what measures importers are using to insure their suppliers are not using forced labor. We strongly recommend you initiate a review of your suppliers and have them certify that they nor their suppliers use forced labor of any kind at any point in your supply chain. If possible, we recommend you perform site visits to confirm this. Please contact us with any questions.

CBP increases user fees for inflation

While the MPF & HMF rates do not change, effective October 1, 2021, the following fees will be assessed:

– Merchandise Processing: minimum $27.75/maximum $538.40 (up from $27.23/$528.33)

– surcharge for manual entry or release: $3.33 (up from $3.27)

– informal entry or release not prepared by CBP personnel: $2.22 automated/$6.66 manual (up from $2.18/$6.54)

– informal entry or release prepared by CBP personnel: $9.99 (up from $9.80)