Blog

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The laws and regulations governing international trade are especially complex and can be overwhelming for companies doing business across national borders. The rapidly expanding global marketplace, however, has made compliance more important than ever. Failure to heed these laws can have serious and lasting consequences as dire as criminal charges against the company and individual employees. The International Trade Law Compass blog offers a steady stream of updates on a broad range of international trade issues, including import/export compliance, U.S. sanctions programs, trends in cross-border contracts as well as significant criminal prosecutions and civil litigation.

Recent Blog Posts

  • CIT Finds Fabric Pet Carriers Are Not “Bags” In a recent opinion, the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”) found, at least in part, in favor of the producer of pet carriers, by excluding the items from a catch-all baggage classification. Since 2013, Quaker Pet Group, LLC (“QPG”)  has been challenging the government’s classification of various styles of cloth carriers for dogs, cats, and other animals.  The government has classified the carriers under subheading 4202.39 for “travel, sport and similar bags” and assessed a 17.6% duty rate.  QPG argues... More
  • CIT Upholds Commerce’s New Take on Antidumping Duties of Vietnamese Fish Fillets In an Opinion made public last week, the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) sustained the U.S. Commerce Department’s (“Commerce”) change of opinion with regard to antidumping duties assessed on frozen fish fillets from Vietnam.  Ultimately, the CIT found that Commerce had “reasonably explained” its shift in position based on Commerce’s new understanding of the evidence presented to it and the company in question’s failure to present evidence to rebut the assumption Commerce had applied. In January 2017, the CIT granted... More
  • Educational Solar Panels Spared from Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders Last week, the U.S Department of Commerce announced that it was revising the definition of solar panels from China which are subject to countervailing and antidumping duties to exclude educational solar energy kits which had been lumped in with panels designed for industrial and other applications in a recent Order. Earlier this month, the Commerce Department announced the preliminary results of an administrative review of countervailing and antidumping duties originally ordered in December 2012.  The Commerce Department began its initial investigation... More
  • Revisions to FCPA Enforcement Policies Still Pose Tough Questions for Honest Companies In recent remarks, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced significant revisions to the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) policies for enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  The policy revisions make permanent many of the aspects of the FCPA Pilot Program which began in 2016 and sought encourage voluntary self-disclosures of FCPA violations by formalizing the benefits to corporations for doing so.  The recent policy revisions even went a step farther than the Pilot Program, announcing that if company voluntarily discloses FCPA... More
  • CBP Holds That Roasting Changes Coffee’s Country of Origin In a recently issued Final Determination, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirmed that the roasting of coffee beans substantially transforms the beans into a product of the country in which the beans were roasted. Coffee producer Keurig Green Mountain (“Keurig”) requested the determination as to the country of origin assignment to green coffee beans that it imported into the United States and Canada and then roasted in those countries.  Specifically, Keurig sought the determination as it relates to the procurement... More
  • Santa Claus Costume Classified as “Fancy Dress” for Import Duty Just in time for the holiday season, the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”) recently held that certain components of a Santa Claus suit were of such quality that they should be subject to apparel duties, not the free duty assessed on costumes and other “festive articles.” The articles at issue were imported by Rubies Costume Co. (“Rubies”) as a complete Santa Clause costume. Included in the “premier” set, which carried a retail price of $100, were red polyester and acrylic pants,... More
  • CIT Upholds CBP Classification of “Optical” Data Modules In a recent decision, the United States Court of International Trade (CIT), upheld the classification of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with regard to fiber optic telecommunications modules, finding that the “optical” quality of fiber optics trumped their use for data transmission. ADC argued that, although fiber optic technologies use light (transmitted along glass cables), the technologies, including the modules at issue, are not “optical” instruments.  Further, ADC argued that the classification for optical products should be limited to articles... More
  • CIT Finds Shoe Importer Was “Grossly Negligent” In Classifying Products In recent decision, the Court of International Trade entered a $1.6 million award against shoe importer, Sterling Footwear, Inc. (“Sterling”), for what it found to be grossly negligent product misclassification.  Granting the U.S. Government’s motion for summary judgment in part, the Court left open the possibility of additional penalties of up to $20.8 million once the liability of Sterling’s owner and a related company  are determined at trial. The Court found that in 337 entries between 2007 and 2009, Sterling had misclassified... More
  • CIT Finds that Home Depot Doorknobs Are Locks In a recent opinion, the Court of International Trade upheld the determination by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that certain doorknobs imported by home-improvement retailer Home Depot are properly classified as locks and subject to a higher duty than other doorknobs. In essence, the dispute came down to a question of whether a doorknob that locks is (i) a doorknob or (ii) a lock. Doorknobs are classified heading 8302 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) which covers... More
  • Gray Market Distributor Challenges CBP’s Grant of Protection to Duracell In a recent post, we discussed the lawsuit brought by battery behemoth Duracell against a company that it was importing “gray market” versions of its copper-topped products. In that action, Duracell has argued that the warranty that comes with its U.S. batteries is ten times longer than the warranty that comes with the batteries that Duracell sells to electronic manufacturers and which the defendant sought to import.  Accordingly, Duracell argued that this material difference in the warranty should permit it... More