The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that company has agreed to settle charges that its Chinese subsidiary made improper payments to health care professionals at government-owned hospitals to recommend the company’s infant formula to patients who were new or expectant mothers. The company has agreed to pay $12 million to settle the SEC’s finding that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
To read the entire SEC Press Release please follow this link: $12M to Settle FCPA Claims
The Broker-Known Importer Program (BKIP) is an initiative led by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA), and is supported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Through BKIP, licensed customs brokers would alert CBP that the importer on an entry is known to the customs broker and that the customs broker has advised the importer of their compliance responsibilities pertaining to customs regulations. BKIP is a voluntary program that would create a framework whereby customs brokers could discuss with their importer clients in greater depth the importer's trade activities in the context of import regulations.
For more information about the BKIP please follow this link: Broker-Known Importer Program (BKIP)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that changes to Seattle Area ports cargo release processing will take effect August 1. This impacts where the trade is to submit documents for processing and who to contact. This includes entries that are remotely filed into the Seattle Area.
See the attachments for the complete list and more information and points of contact for the trade community. Please direct questions to the appropriate CBP Supervisor on the Points of Contact list below.
To download Adobe copies of the documents please follow these links: CBP Sea-Tac End of Area Port Processing or CBP Sea-Tac Contact List
According to reliable reports coming out of Washington, D.C., U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has approached the White House seeking an extension of the November 1, 2015 mandatory date for all federal agencies to participate in CBP’s next-generation system known as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). Reportedly, if an extension is granted it will be one six-month extension, making the new mandatory full implementation date May 1, 2016.
The ACE system, which has been in development and deployment since the late 1990’s (and has coincidentally cost taxpayers billions of dollars) has been on somewhat of a fast track in recent years. And, CBP is to be commended for finally demanding and getting some positive traction on ACE in recent years. As envisioned by CBP and the trade community, ACE will soon become the operating platform or engine for the single window concept known as the International Trade Data System (ITDS). But now, as CBP’s portion of the ACE system is nearing completion, the scramble is on for other federal agencies (Food and Drug, Department of Agriculture, Fish and Wildlife, etc.) to get on board with the single window concept. This impetus is being spurned by an Executive Order signed by President Obama on February 19, 2014. This directive requires all federal agencies who regulate or otherwise collect data on commercial imports to participate in ACE no later than November 1, 2015.
Frankly speaking, it is my humble opinion that this date is unattainable and that the government, who allowed ACE to languish for years, is now trying to run at warp speed…something that it’s not very good at. Based on my experiences, I believe that the Federal Government runs at about one-third of the speed (or less) of most private sector companies. Simply put, they are trying to fit five years of specification, design, development, testing and implementation into an eighteen month time frame; it’s too much, too fast. Some federal agencies have had to be dragged into ACE kicking and screaming and have done everything they can do to stall their part of the implementation. Now, all of them have been mandated to have their system requirements and specifications designed and coded in a very small window. I am not a programmer, but I do know quite a bit about computer systems and the art of programming; and anytime you are attempting to code disparate requirements for multiple agencies into a brand new system, it takes time…lots of time. Not only to code, but to test. Over the years CBP has had multiple fits and starts with certain deployments or modules of ACE; and they have also struggled mightily just to build and roll-out a 2.0 platform for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program.
Collectively, the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee (COAC), the trade associations, large private sector importers and the multitude of government agencies involved need to inform the White House that the date cannot be practically or realistically met. One agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purportedly already has an exemption from the “mandatory date”.
The bottom line is this; the November 1, 2015 mandatory date is way too aggressive and consideration is warranted for granting an extension. While there is no doubt that the federal agencies lagging behind in ACE coding and testing have had plenty of time to embrace and accomplish these tasks, rushing them at this juncture is clearly not in the best interests of the government or the trade community at large. We will continue to follow this story and will update our web site as new information is received.
To download an Adobe copy of this article please follow this link: Extension Sought for November 1 Mandatory Date for ACE
The U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has announced that an Iranian company entered a plea of guilty on behalf of the corporation to conspiracy to evade export licensing requirements. As part of its plea agreement with the United States, the company agreed that the government would recommend a $250,000 criminal fine. The plea agreement is subject to the approval of the Court. The company also has agreed under a settlement with BIS to pay a $837,500 civil penalty to the U.S. Department of Commerce, of which it must pay $587,500 out-of-pocket, with the remaining $250,000 suspended for two years.
To download an Adobe copy of the BIS Press Release please follow this link: BIS Press Release
The International Trade Data System (ITDS) Committee of the Trade Support Network (TSN) needs your input and participation in the new U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) ACE/ITDS Working Group.
Working Group Purpose
The purpose of the FWS ACE/ITDS Working Group will be to ensure that all stakeholders are provided the opportunity to discuss the technical requirements related to the participation of FWS in the ACE/ITDS system. The working group will consist of members of the international trade community such as importers and exporters of commodities that are regulated by the FWS, the brokers that process such shipments, the software developers who support the business processes, and representatives from FWS and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) team developing the ITDS software system. The transition to the ITDS will change the way FWS, CBP, and members of the trade community do business. Your involvement is needed to ensure that transition to ACE/ITDS will continue to support efficient and timely cargo releases while in compliance with FWS requirements.
Working Group Task
The ACE system will replace the ACS system, and therefore will require that the trade be capable of electronically submitting certain FWS data using the Partner Government Agency (PGA) Message Set. FWS and CBP have identified specific data elements that will need to be submitted by the filer in order to transact business in ACE. The working group is tasked with assuring that all technical and data requirements are transitioned to ACE/ITDS successfully. The working group will review the draft FWS PGA Message Set guidance as well as give input on the ITDS impact on business processes for the affected trade. FWS will use the input from the working group to refine the planned message set and business processes as necessary.
Working Group Commitment
Working Group participants should be prepared to commit to weekly conference calls typically 2 hours in duration over a four to six week period. A more definitive schedule will be determined at the Working Group’s first meeting. The teleconferences will focus on the technical business processes and technical data flows required for the FWS Message Sets in order to define the programming and operational guidelines to be implemented by FWS and CBP for commodities subject to FWS regulations. Regulatory and policy matters are outside the scope of this working group.
To participate in the FWS ACE/ITDS Working Group please send your contact information to:
Frank Korpusik at email@example.com
Sandra Scott at Sandra.firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Schmidt at Schmidt.email@example.com
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that an electronics company has agreed to pay a maximum $1,825,000 civil penalty. The civil penalty agreement settles CPSC staff’s charges that the company knowingly failed to report to CPSC, as required by federal law, a defect and an unreasonable risk of serious injury with several models of dehumidifiers. Fires caused by the defective dehumidifiers resulted in millions of dollars of property damage. Due to a defective fan, the dehumidifiers overheated, smoked, melted or caught fire, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers.
To read the entire CPSC Press Release please follow this link: $1.825M CPSC Civil Penalty
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced a PGA Outreach Event for the Trade. It will be held in Chicago, IL on July 30, 2015, at the Topco Building, 100 Northwest Point Blvd., Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. The event is being held to help inform brokers and the trade community of some important changes that will affect the processing of import and export filings. As CBP Automated Commercial System (ACS) is being shut down later this year, the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) will oversee CBP and its PGAs as they transition to collecting import/export data via the “single window” concept.
The presenters of this seminar are subject matter experts from PGAs that develop policies and processes to collect electronic data for agency review with streamlined responses back to the users. These presenters are eager to engage with and consider the advice of industry and other relevant stakeholders regarding opportunities to make objective suggestions for improvement in collecting information. This is an opportunity to share experiences and expertise.
The event is being hosted by representatives from the Chicago Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association and supported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
For more information please follow this link: PGA Outreach Event Chicago
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that a Partner Government Agency outreach event is being held in Newark, NJ to help inform brokers and the trade community of some important changes that will affect the processing of import and export filings. As CBP's Automated Commercial System (ACS) is being shut down later this year, the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) will oversee CBP and its partner government agencies (PGAs) as they transition to collecting import/export data via the “single window” concept.
The presenters of this seminar are subject matter experts from PGAs that develop policies and processes to collect electronic data for agency review with streamlined responses back to the users. These presenters are eager to engage with and consider the advice of industry and other relevant stakeholders regarding opportunities to make objective suggestions for improvement in collecting information. This is an opportunity to share experiences and expertise on the critical aspects that are unique to Customs processing in the Port of New York/Newark.
Border Interagency Council (BIEC)
Partner Government Agency (PGA)
Thursday, August 6 2015, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
The Newark Club
One Newark Center
Metropolitan Room – 22nd Flr.
Newark, NJ 07102
Please register online at http://www.nynjforwarders-brokers.org
Directions can be found at: www.newarkclub.com
Parking Lot on premises – near PATH/Penn Station
The event is being hosted by the NYNJFFFBA and supported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reports that they have concluded a week-long joint “table top exercise” on handling import safety issues through multi-agency collaboration with Canada.
The joint Table Top Exercise (TTX) included officials from CBP's Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and Health Canada. The exercise focused on critical incidents involving imported products that were found to be dangerous, hazardous and volatile, and helped both countries understand how the other would respond.
The exercise gave each participating agency a chance to present potential scenarios of import safety events that would have hazardous effects on the public. As scenarios were presented, each agency provided feedback to their respective counterparts. Those recommendations will be used to better protect U.S. and Canadian consumers.
“This is an opportunity for Canadian and U.S. border enforcement and import safety agencies to exchange ideas and develop best practices for working together to address import safety issues,” said Brenda Smith, Assistant Commissioner for CBP’s Office of International Trade. “This exercise not only displayed the benefit of joint agency collaboration, but also served as an opportunity to learn from our international colleagues.”
“For years, CPSC has enjoyed a close and productive working relationship with our sister agency, CBP. CPSC and CBP are also collaborating with our international partners, and together we are working to increase mission effectiveness, while securing the borders from dangerous imported products. Our meeting with Health Canada, CBSA, and CBP provided an excellent opportunity to better understand how we may be able to work more closely to better protect consumers in both Canada and the U.S.”, added Carol Cave, Director, CPSC’s Office of Import Surveillance.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has published an update on the process that importers need to employ for Generalized System of Preference (GSP) refund claims.
Effective July 29, 2015, filers again are entitled to file GSP- eligible entry summaries without the payment of estimated duties.
Recognizing the impact that retroactive renewal and consequent numerous re-liquidations will have on both importers and CBP, CBP developed a mechanism to facilitate refunds for entries submitted during the lapse period using the Special Program Indicator (SPI) for GSP (with the letter "A," "A+," or "A*") as a prefix to the tariff number. We expect to begin automated processing of these shortly after the effective date.
B. Formal/Informal Entries
CBP will liquidate or reliquidate all affected entry summaries and refund any duties deposited (without interest) for items qualifying for GSP and for which requests for liquidation or reliquidation are timely filed. Field locations will not issue GSP refunds except as instructed to do so by CBP Headquarters.
If as stated above, an ABI entry summary was filed with payment of estimated duties using the Special Program Indicator (SPI) for GSP (with the letter "A," "A+," or "A*") as a prefix to the tariff number, no further action by the filer is required; filings with the SPI "A," "A+," or "A*" will be treated as confirming requests for refunds.
If an ABI entry summary was filed with payment of estimated duties without the use of the SPI "A," "A+," or "A*" as a prefix to the tariff number, a refund of duties deposited must be requested in writing as described below for non-ABI entry summaries.
Non-ABI filers must request a refund in writing from the Port Director at the port of entry by December 28, 2015, regardless if they previously designated a refund on the Customs Form 7501 by using the SPI "A," "A+," or "A*" code. The request may cover either single entry summaries or all entry summaries filed by an individual filer at a single port. To expedite refunds, CBP recommends the following information be included in each letter:
C. Mail Entries
The addressees on mail entries must request a refund of GSP duties (not including interest) and return it, along with a copy of the CF 3419A, to the appropriate International Mail Branch (address listed on bottom right hand corner of CF 3419A). It is essential that a copy of the CF 3419A be included, as this will be the only means of identifying whether GSP products have been entered and estimated duties and fees have been paid.
D. Baggage Declarations and Non-ABI Informals
If travelers/importers wrote a statement directly on their Customs declarations (CF 6059B) or informal entries (CF 363 or CF 7501) requesting a refund (not including interest), no further action by the traveler/importer will be required; the statement will be treated as a conforming request for a refund. Failure to request a refund in this manner does not preclude a traveler/importer from otherwise making a timely request in writing, as described above for non-ABI filers.
Goods Eligible for Retroactive Benefits
The GSP reauthorization provides retroactive benefits only to goods from a country that is a beneficiary of the GSP program as of July 29, 2015. As such, this would exclude countries such as Bangladesh and Russia that lost eligibility between July 31, 2013 and July 29, 2015.
To go to the CBP web page that contains this notice please follow this link: GSP Refund Claims Process
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that a New Jersey-based construction management company admitted to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and agreed to pay a $17.1 million criminal penalty to resolve charges that it bribed foreign officials in India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Kuwait to secure government construction management contracts. Two of the company’s former executives also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and FCPA charges in connection with the scheme.
To read the entire DOJ Press Release please follow this link: DOJ Press Release on FCPA Charges
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) requires all Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Secure Data Portal users to maintain their Point of Contact, Address, Telephone Number, and Email Address information. Brokers and Filers are reminded to regularly review and update their account information in the ACE Secure Data Portal to avoid delays in important communications between CBP and the account.
For assistance updating your ACE Secure Data Portal account information, please contact the ACE Account Services Desk at 1-866-530-4172 or you may send an email to: ACE.Support@cbp.dhs.gov.
Michael Laden is a Founder and Principal of the firm. He is a licensed customs broker and has been toiling in the international trade industry for almost 40 years. His full bio can be found on the ABOUT US page.