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Practice Areas

Numerous Federal Customs and Trade Functions Suspended by Government Shutdown

Wednesday, October 02, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Customs processing functions at U.S. ports of entry are among the few trade-related services provided by federal agencies that will not be affected by a government shutdown that began Oct. 1. According to government and press sources, the shutdown will have the following effects on those involved in international trade activities.

- U.S. Customs and Border Protection states that its port of entry operations, including cargo security and revenue functions, will remain operational. Import specialists, entry specialists, fines, penalties and forfeiture officers, agriculture officers, and Centers of Excellence and Expertise will remain active.

- A White House document states that 61 staff at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (out of 232) “will be required” during the shutdown. The American Association of Exporters and Importers cites a USTR email to industry representatives as saying the agency “will be unable to carry out normal operations” during the shutdown but is still hoping to participate in the next rounds of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks, which are scheduled for Oct. 3-8 and Oct. 7-11, respectively.

- The vast majority of staff at the International Trade Administration will be furloughed and most ITA services and activities will be suspended. Seven officers based overseas who conduct pre-licensing and post-shipment checks for exports, 19 foreign service officers and 13 international trade specialists stationed around the U.S. will remain on duty.

- More than 40% of staff at the Bureau of Industry and Security will be retained to allow export enforcement functions and minimal export administration functions (e.g., processing certain export licenses, evaluating exports involving U.S. controlled items, and negotiating changes to international export control lists) to continue. Personnel in the Office of Enforcement Analysis and the Office of Anti-Boycott Compliance will be furloughed.

- The International Trade Commission will shut down its investigative activities, including antidumping and countervailing injury investigations and reviews and intellectual property rights infringement investigations and ancillary proceedings. The schedules and deadlines for all investigative and pre-institution activities will be tolled and all hearings and conferences will be postponed, although some scheduled for the first week of October will proceed if the ITC resumes operations by Oct. 3.

- Food Navigator reports that the Food and Drug Administration will continue activities such as high-risk recalls, civil and criminal investigations, and import entry reviews but will be unable to support most of its food safety, nutrition and cosmetics activities and will cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement, import monitoring, notification programs and most lab research necessary to inform public health decision-making.

- All Federal Maritime Commission functions have been suspended, including acceptance of online filings or applications for service contracts, ocean transportation intermediary licenses or tariff registration; acceptance of filings for ocean carrier or marine terminal operator agreements or amendments; operation of online databases, including SERVCON, the VOCC and NVOCC tariff list, and the list of license and bonded OTIs; and acceptance of or action on complaints. All filing deadlines in formal and informal adjudicatory and investigatory proceedings pending before the FMC or administrative law judges have been stayed.

- Inspections of animals for import and export as well as imports of meat, poultry and egg products, which are funded by user fees rather than congressional appropriations, will continue.

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