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CBP Proposes To Deputize Customs Brokers

CBP is about to overhaul the way customs brokers conduct business.  The proposed regulations are far-reaching, but they are not yet final. If you want to submit a written comment to CBP, you have until August 4, 2020. The proposed amendments and the instructions for submitting comments can be found in the Federal Register Notice of June 5, 2020. See https://bit.ly/3de4Y5O

Our law firm will be hosting a free webinar on July 14, 2020 explaining the new regulations (see below), but perhaps the most pivotal change, and it is barely mentioned in the proposed regulations, is that CBP is effectively deputizing customs brokers. Custom brokers will be required to turn in to CBP any client who, in the broker’s estimation, is attempting to defraud or otherwise commit any criminal act against the U.S. Government. Is misclassification an “attempt to defraud?” How about exploring with an importer legal methods to decrease the amount of antidumping duties that the importer pays? The relationship between importers and customs brokers is already tense when potential violations arise. Forcing customs brokers to snitch on their clients will certainly complicate the relationship further.

Here are more changes that CBP is proposing:

  • Eliminate district permits and allow a national permit holder to conduct any type of customs business within the customs territory of the United States.
  • Any applicant who obtains a passing grade on the examination for an individual broker's license may apply for a national permit. The national permit application may be submitted concurrently with or after the submission of an application for a broker's license.
  • Increase the broker license application from a base of $200 to $300 for individuals and $500 for business entities. 
  • Customs broker must designate a recordkeeping contact who must be a knowledgeable employee who will serve as the party responsible for broker-wide financial and recordkeeping requirements.
  • Customs broker must employ a sufficient number of licensed brokers relative to the job complexity, similarity of subordinate tasks, physical proximity of subordinates, abilities and skills of employees, and abilities and skills of the managers.
  • Simply maintaining current editions of the relevant laws and regulations does not indicate responsible supervision and control, ensuring access to these documents, whether hard copy or electronic, is more important in determining responsible supervision and control.
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CBP Issues Notice for October 8, 2020 Customs Broker Examinations (yes, there's more than one)

The customs broker license examination (CBLE) is scheduled for October 8, 2020, as previously announced in the Federal Register notice (84 FR 71440) published on December 27, 2019.  CBP will administer two examination sessions: one in the morning and one in the afternoon, the times will be announced soon.  CBP’s highest priority is the health and safety of all test-takers and CBP personnel.  Information will be added concerning the CBLE as soon as possible, please regularly check this website for updates regarding the October 8, 2020 examination.  If you have questions please email Headquarters Broker Management Branch at brokermanagement@cbp.dhs.gov. The CBLE registration is scheduled to open for early August 2020, and will close early September 2020. For more information, go to www.cbp.gov/trade/programs-administration/customs-brokers.

Huawei Alert:  Commerce Clears Way for U.S.      Companies to More Fully Engage in Tech Standards-Development Bodies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 15, 2020
Office of Public Affairs
U.S. Department of Commerce
(202) 482-4883
publicaffairs@doc.gov

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced a new rule today ensuring U.S. industry’s ability to more fully contribute to standards-development activities in the telecommunications sector. International standards serve as the critical building blocks for technological development by enabling functionality, interoperability, and safety. U.S. participation and leadership in standard-setting influences the future of 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies.

“The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. This action recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The Department is committed to protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by encouraging U.S. industry to fully engage and advocate for U.S. technologies to become international standards.”

This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the Entity List in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities despite Huawei’s pervasive participation in standards-development organizations.Under the new Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) rule, technology that would not have required a license to be disclosed to Huawei before the company’s placement on the Entity List can be disclosed for the purpose of standards development in a standards-development body without need for an export license. In amending the Huawei Entity Listing, the rule promotes U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by facilitating U.S. leadership in standards-development bodies.The general advisory opinion posted by BIS on August 19, 2019, is no longer in effect. The Department will continue to engage with stakeholders and take the actions necessary in the interest of U.S. national security and foreign policy.

Background:

  • In 2019, BIS added Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd and its foreign affiliates (collectively, “Huawei”) to the Entity List under the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) because Huawei posed a significant risk of involvement in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.
  • Sent to the Federal Register on Friday, June 12, the action authorizes the release of U.S. technology designated as EAR99 or controlled only for Anti-Terrorism reasons on the Commerce Control List without a license, in the context of “voluntary consensus standards bodies” of which Huawei is a participant, for the purpose of contributing to the revision or development of a “standard,” as defined in Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 (Rev. 2016).

The rule returns U.S. industry to the status quo ante, from an Entity List perspective, with respect to disclosures of such technology to Huawei and its affiliates in legitimate standards development contexts only, and not for commercial purposes. Disclosures for commercial purposes remain “subject to the EAR” and are still subject to recordkeeping and all other applicable EAR requirements.


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This message is to inform the trade community of the release of the Updated USMCA Interim Implementing Instructions on June 16, 2020. The link to this document is available below. This version of the document replaces the Interim Implementing Instructions issued on April 20, 2020.

These Updated Interim Implementing Instructions are informational and provide early guidance on the new requirements under the USMCA, including information on claiming USMCA preferential treatment for goods.

The Final Implementing Instructions will be released prior to the date the USMCA enters into force and will provide the Trade and Field with additional details on the USMCA entry, compliance, and other requirements.

The supporting USMCA regulations, the new Part 182 of Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations 182 (19 CFR 182) is to include the USMCA Uniform Regulations and will be issued July 1, 2020. Additionally, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States will be amended effective, July 1, 2020 to include General Note 11 (GN11) with information on the USMCA rules of origin, product specific rules, and other requirements.

Until the USMCA enters into force, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) requirements remains in effect.


These instructions are for advance informational and advisory purposes only. They are not final and are subject to further revision. They are not intended to have legal or binding effect. Any decisions a reader makes based on this draft document are made with the understanding that the information in these instructions is advisory only and may change. The reader is responsible for monitoring the CBP website to ensure awareness of the status of any revisions to this document.

Questions regarding this guidance can be directed to Maya Kamar, Director, Textiles and Trade Agreements Division at (202) 945-7228 or email FTA@CBP.DHS.GOV.

The Updated USMCA Interim Implementing Instructions – June 16, 2020
https://www.cbp.gov/document/guidance/usmca-interim-implementation-instructions

The USMCA Implementation Act (Public Law No: 116-113)
(https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/5430/text)

The USMCA Agreement, Final Text
(https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/agreement-between)

USTR’s Federal Register Notice on the USMCA Alternative Staging Regimes for Automotive Imports - 85 FRN 22238, April 21, 2020
(https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-04-21/pdf/2020-08405.pdf)

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