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January 29 2013 Issue

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Argentina Eliminates Non-Automatic Import License Requirement, Raises Import Tariffs

Effective Jan. 25 Argentina has eliminated the non-automatic import license requirement imposed on all foreign-made goods except bicycles. However, Argentina has also increased to the 35% maximum allowed under World Trade Organization rules its import tariffs on 100 products. The conflicting moves suggest that Argentina’s trade policy will continue to be complex and occasionally contradictory.

Under Resolution 11/2013, which reverses more than a decade of increasingly strict policy, the following import certificates are no longer required to import the goods indicated into Argentina as of Jan. 25.

- automotive vehicles (CIVA)
- metal parts (CIPM)
- various products (CIPV)
- diverse manufactures (CIMD)
- home articles (CIH)
- tires (CIN)
- yarns and fabrics (CIHT)
- fabric products (CIPT)
- shoes (CIC)
- parts of shoes (CIPC)
- auto parts (CIAPA)
- screws (CITA)
- toys (CIJ)
- motorcycles (CIM)
- balls (CIP)
- paper (CIP)

This unexpected step might offer a glimmer of hope in what has been an increasingly tense trade relationship between Argentina and major economies such as the United States, the European Union, Mexico and Japan, which are pursuing WTO disputes against a number of trade restrictive measures that Buenos Aires has levied in recent years. Though no official comment has been made, those trading partners will likely welcome the elimination of the non-automatic import licenses while continuing to urge Argentina to take similar steps with respect to other barriers.

In that vein they will likely criticize Resolution 25/2013, which effective Jan. 24 raises to 35% Argentina’s import tariffs on 100 products, including foods such as kiwi fruit, coffee, tuna, tomatoes, mushrooms and pineapple; cosmetics; herbicides and disinfectants; vehicle tires; footwear uppers; jewelry; household articles such as sponges, gloves, light bulbs, lamps and electric hair clippers; household appliances such as coffee makers, washing machines and ovens; cell phones, computers and multifunction printers; tools such as stainless steel adjustable wrenches; industrial equipment such as centrifugal pumps and fans, electric hoists and drilling machines; lawn mowers; motorcycles; sunglasses; electric musical instruments; metal furniture; sporting goods such as balls, roller skates and ice skates; and personal items such as toothbrushes, pens, markers and lighters.

Mercosur member countries voted in 2011 to allow higher duties on goods imported from outside the bloc as a way to protect domestic manufacturers from low-cost foreign goods. The tariff increases will be effective through Dec. 31, 2014.

For further information on these actions or their implications, please contact Leandro Gonzalez in Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services’ Buenos Aires office.

Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services Inc. (STTAS) is recognized as the leading provider of customs and international trade advisory services to the public and private sectors. STTAS offers hands-on global import/export solutions for multinational companies eager to increase their ability to move merchandise across international borders in an efficient, seamless and compliant manner. STTAS also assists governments throughout the world in building customs agencies and procedures that expand import and export capabilities, reduce risk factors and comply with international standards.

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. (ST&R), which is affiliated with STTAS, is a customs and international trade law firm concentrating its practice in assisting clients with the movement of goods, personnel and ideas across international borders. ST&R provides governments, manufacturers, importers, exporters and retailers the advice and counsel they require to succeed amid the constantly changing demands of global trade.

Combined, ST&R and STTAS are currently the largest provider of customs and international trade services worldwide with more than 600 global trade professionals. Our success is based on a combination of unsurpassed domain expertise, proprietary technology and business process best practices. 

CBP to Publish Seizure and Forfeiture Notices on DOJ Web Site

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued a final rule that, effective Feb. 28, will allow for the publication of notices of seizure and intent to forfeit on an official government forfeiture Web site. CBP believes this change will reduce administrative costs and improve the effectiveness of its notice procedures because Internet publication will reach a broader range of the public and provide access to more parties who may have an interest in the seized property.

CBP has authority to seize property violating certain laws enforced or administered by CBP or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Such seized property may be forfeited and disposed of in a manner specified by applicable provisions of law, which generally authorize the government to take possession of and legally acquire title to the seized property. Under the CBP forfeiture procedure, a party may assert a claim to the seized property through judicial or administrative proceedings.

Section 607 of the Tariff Act of 1930 requires CBP to publish notice of seizure and intent to forfeit for at least three successive weeks. CBP is also required to issue written notice of the seizure and forfeiture to each party who appears to have an interest in the seized property. CBP regulations set forth the procedure that must be followed when CBP seizes and gives notice of intent to forfeit property under administrative forfeiture proceedings, and these procedures apply when CBP seizes (1) a prohibited importation, (2) a transporting conveyance if used to import, export, transport or store a controlled substance or listed chemical, (3) any monetary instrument within the meaning of 31 USC 5312(a)(3), or (4) any conveyance, merchandise or baggage, the value of which does not exceed $500,000.

Under this final rule CBP will post all seizure and forfeiture notices for 30 consecutive days on an official government forfeiture Web site (which CBP has said will be the Department of Justice’s forfeiture Web site). For property appraised in excess of $5,000, CBP will no longer need to publish administrative seizure and forfeiture notices in newspapers (although it will still have discretion to do so) and will notify all known parties-in-interest of the Web site posting and the expected date of publication. For seized property appraised at $5,000 or less, CBP will continue to also post notice at the customhouse or U.S. Border Patrol sector office. 

CPSC Commissioner Nominated

President Obama has nominated Marietta S. Robinson to be a commissioner on the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Her confirmation would increase the number of Democratic commissioners to three (Republicans would still have two) and could presage a more active Commission in 2013.

A White House press release states that Robinson has practiced as a trial attorney for 33 years, handling a wide variety of complex litigation for both plaintiffs and defendants. Previously she served for eight years as a federally-appointed trustee of the Dalkon Shield Trust, which disbursed over $2.4 billion to more than 300,000 claimants in over 120 countries. Ms. Robinson is a fellow of the International Society of Barristers, a position she has held since 1994, and served as its first female president from 2010 to 2011. She is also a fellow in the American Bar Foundation and the Michigan Bar and in 2000 was a candidate for the Michigan Supreme Court.

Japan to Further Open Market to U.S. Beef as of Feb. 1

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Agriculture announced Jan. 28 an agreement that will “pave the way for expanded exports of U.S. beef and beef products to Japan.” A joint press release states that under this agreement, which will take effect Feb. 1, Japan will permit imports of U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months of age, compared to the previous limit of 20 months that has been in place since July 2006. In addition, the two governments will engage in regular and ad hoc consultations to review progress under the agreement and address any issues that may arise. Japan will also consider further raising the age limit above 30 months for beef and beef product imports from the United States, taking into account international standards.

USTR and USDA estimate that these changes “will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in exports of U.S. beef to Japan in the coming years.” It also “goes a long way toward normalizing trade with Japan by addressing long-standing restrictions,” which could be a factor if and when Tokyo decides it wants to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership currently under negotiation among 11 countries. 

Customs Broker License Exam Rescheduled for April 3

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has rescheduled from April 1 to April 3 the date of its next customs broker license examination. Interested individuals may submit applications through this Web site from Jan. 28 through Feb. 28 but are encouraged to complete their applications well before the deadline. A license exam fee of $200 must be paid at the time of application. Applicants will be notified of specific exam locations approximately two weeks prior to the exam and may contact the relevant service port for additional information after March 15.

To take the broker's license exam, applicants must be a U.S. citizen and be at least 18 years old as of the date of the exam. If an applicant achieves a passing score on the exam and wishes to apply to become a licensed customs broker, an application for customs broker license (form 3124), fingerprints, a current credit report and a license application fee of $200 will be required. License applicants must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 as of the date the application is filed. Officers and employees of the U.S. government may not apply to take the exam or obtain a broker license. 

In the News: Illegal Electronics Exports, Latin America Disavows Protectionism

Illegal Electronics Recycling Results in Criminal Convictions

Latin America Commits to Open Trade After Year of Protectionism

FTC Approves Revised Energy Labeling Rule for Home Heating and Cooling Equipment

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0-1 Jan. 25 to approve a final rule amending the Energy Labeling Rule to require regional information on the yellow EnergyGuide labels on residential furnaces and central air conditioners. This final rule also expands the availability of such labels by requiring them on product packaging, at the point of sale, on Web sites and on the products themselves. The FTC states that the regional information, which will include a map, will help consumers and businesses install equipment appropriate for their location under new Department of Energy regional efficiency standards.

The FTC’s new labeling rules will not be required until the compliance date for the DOE regional standards. The compliance date for non-weatherized gas furnaces and mobile home gas furnaces is currently May 1, 2013, but could be delayed based on a pending federal court settlement. The compliance date for central air conditioner regional standards is Jan. 1, 2015. 

AD/CV Notice: Laminated Woven Sacks from China

Agency: International Trade Administration.
Commodity: Laminated woven sacks.
Country: China.
Nature of Notice: Preliminary results of administrative review of antidumping duty order for the period Aug. 1, 2011, through July 31, 2012.
Details: Weighted average dumping margin of 91.73% for the China-wide entity, including Zibo Aifudi Plastic Packaging Co. Ltd., which failed to demonstrate its eligibility for a separate rate. 

C Reviewing Patent Infringement Determination on Digital Media Devices

The International Trade Commission has announced that in investigation 337-TA-796 the presiding administrative law judge has found that the importation, sale for importation and sale within the U.S. after importation of certain electronic digital media devices and components thereof is violating certain patents owned by Apple Inc. The ITC has determined to review this initial determination in its entirety but is also remanding this investigation to the ALJ with respect to certain issues. Briefing, if any, on remanded and reviewed issues as well as remedy, bonding and the public interest will follow the ITC’s consideration of the remand determination.

Foreign Regulatory Changes Could Affect Exports of Water, Fish, Grains, Toys

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the World Trade Organization has been notified of regulatory changes that may affect exports of specific products to the following countries. For information on how these restrictions may affect your business, contact ST&R.

Mexico – official standard on sanitary specifications for water and ice for human consumption, pre-packaged and in bulk

Mexico – official standard on health specifications and test methods for fresh, chilled, frozen and processed fishery products

Mexico – official standard on test methods for foods prepared from cereals, edible seeds, flour, semolina or mixtures thereof

Turkey – import controls on waste, chemicals, solid fuels, radio and telecommunications terminal equipment, toys, personal protective equipment, construction products, batteries and accumulators, medical devices, materials of forest cultivation and metal scraps.

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