Importers and exporters of animals and animal products, which include everything from apparel to cosmetics to luggage, will face stricter enforcement of Fish and Wildlife Service data reporting requirements once electronic submissions through the Automated Commercial Environment are required later this year. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg will be conducting a webinar Sept. 29 to review these changes.
FWS regulations exempt a wide variety of products (e.g., those made from certain domesticated animals) from the requirement for FWS clearance of imports or exports. Agency sources state that while the regulations require importers and exporters of exempt products to submit several data elements to confirm those exemptions, in practice that information is not often submitted, and FWS currently has no effective means of enforcement. Shipments of non-exempt products require additional information, which is filed on FWS Form 3-177, the Declaration for Importation or Exportation of Fish or Wildlife, and under ACE will be referred to as the extended data set.
According to FWS, the pending transition to ACE is an opportunity to improve enforcement of the reporting requirements, particularly in light of the agency’s responsibility to combat illegal trade in wildlife products. As a result, FWS is currently testing an ACE submission process under which any import or export of covered goods, whether exempt or non-exempt, will be rejected and the shipment will not be released unless the required data is provided. This process will affect more than 2,000 specifically flagged subheadings in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. covering products such as cosmetics, luggage, leather apparel and accessories, fur and fur products, feathers and feather products, wool and wool products, footwear, hats, jewelry, watches, clocks, musical instruments, brushes, combs, buttons, art, antiquities and collectibles. Also included are U.S. goods returned under HTSUS 9801.00.10 and a number of Chapter 98 and 99 provisions, including the tariff preference level provisions in Chapter 99.
Sources emphasized that the ACE process will not require any additional information beyond what is currently required. In addition, the existing requirements for import/export licenses and shipment through specific ports for goods that require FWS clearance will continue to apply under ACE.
FWS is only testing the submission of import and export data through ACE for now but sources expect that it will be required no later than Dec. 31, the date that virtually all electronic filings must be made in ACE. A proposed rule to modify FWS regulations toward this end is being developed but sources could not say when it might be issued.
In the meantime, importers and exporters of FWS-regulated goods, particularly those that are exempt from clearance, should carefully review the list of goods that will be subject to data reporting requirements under ACE and take steps to ensure they are gathering and retaining the required information to avoid potential shipment delays. Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg’s experienced professionals can provide guidance and assistance in these efforts. For more information, please contact Tom Gould at (661) 202-3358.