U.S. to Foreign Companies: Take Export Controls Seriously

March 13, 2024 – The Department of Justice issued a “Tri-Seal Compliance Note” last week, warning that foreign companies may face civil and criminal penalties if they fail to take U.S. export controls “seriously.” 

For example, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) can take enforcement action against a foreign individual or business for misleading U.S. authorities, or for obscuring or omitting “reference to the involvement of a sanctioned party or jurisdiction to a
financial transaction involving a U.S. person…”

The compliance note says global businesses “should take appropriate steps to understand how these laws may apply to them, what risks are posed by their business operations, and how they can mitigate these risks.” 

The document includes steps foreign companies can take to improve their sanctions compliance programs. Read the DOJ compliance note.

Debate on De Minimis: Remedy or Loophole?

March 13, 2024 – The future of the $800 cap on de minimis imports is heating up on Capitol Hill, with the announcement of a new coalition and what some lawmakers say is a growing appetite to apply de minimis restrictions on goods from China.

A group of manufacturers, labor unions and business groups announced the formation of the Coalition to Close the De Minimis Loophole last week, saying it was working with members of the House Ways and Means Committee. The ranking member of the Trade Subcommittee Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said at an event for the announcement that he’s getting more sponsors for The Import Security and Fairness Act, which, if passed, would exclude both shipments from China and shipments from other countries if the goods in the small packages were of Chinese origin.

Meanwhile, other business groups, including the National Foreign Trade Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sent a letter to the White House last week saying restrictions on de minimis would be a tax hike on consumers and small businesses.

AAEI’s Customs Committee will include the issue on its next meeting agenda. Not yet a member? Click here for how to join the discussion.

USTR Focuses on Supply Chain Resilience

March 13, 2024 – The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has opened a public comment period on ways that U.S. trade and investment policies can promote supply chain resilience. 

The notice, published on March 7, 2024, says Americans know the consequences of trade disruptions, including “volatile prices for critical consumer goods and medical products and widespread product shortages that contribute to inflationary dynamics.”

In the comment request, USTR says it is searching for new incentives to increase the supply of key inputs, and new forms of cooperation with allies and trading partners to prevent and withstand supply chain disruptions and mitigate risks. 

The comment deadline if April 22, 2024. A public hearing is scheduled for May 2nd. Read the USTR notice.

Bill to Renew GSP Seen as Needed for Jobs and Business Growth

March 13, 2024 – Legislation to renew the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) benefits program would offer full refunds to companies for import tariffs that have been covered by the program after it expired in 2020.

The bipartisan Repayment of Extra Tariffs with Renewal of (Retro) GSP Act (H.R.7555) says that more than $3 billion in collected duties have hindered job creation and business expansion.

This bill, if passed, would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to refund the tariff payments, without interest, within 90 days of the import’s reliquidation or liquidation. Read the bill here.

CBP's John Leonard Retiring Next Month

March 13, 2024 –  The Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) Office of Trade John Leonard announced his retirement at the end of April. Leonard was promoted to help lead the agency’s trade initiatives in 2021, along with Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie Highsmith.

Leonard was a keynote speaker at AAEI’s 102nd Annual Conference and Expor in Washington, DC last June, during which he discussed CBP’s top priorities and enforcement challenges involving the prohibition of imported goods made with forced labor.

In making the announcement of Leonard’s retirement last week, acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller had no further comment.

White House Budget Request Includes Money for More CBP Officers

March 13, 2024 –  The White House released its FY2025 budget request this week and it includes $239 million in funding to hire an additional 1,000 officers for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  The White House said the additional officers would help “to stop illicit fentanyl and other contraband from entering the U.S.”

The budget request also asks for $34 million for CBP “to combat child exploitation, forced labor, and human trafficking. Read the White House fact sheet.

AAEI Participates in AAFA Summit

Washington, DC, Thursday, March 7, 2024

March 13, 2024 –  AAEI’s President and CEO Eugene Laney participated in last week’s American Apparel & Footwear Association’s (AAFA’s) 2024 Executive Summit, Fashioning a Healthy Future. The event in Washington, DC, on March 7, included discussion on sustainability, geopolitical risks, global sourcing, and the future of AI.

The event was held at the InterContinental Washington D.C. hotel. For more information on the AAFA, please click here.