Wednesday, April 29, 2009

CBP Warning on E-Mail Scam

On April 24, 2009, CBP posted a notice on their web site that malicious e-mails claiming to be from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and a being circulated. These emails may have subject lines with text similar to “Parcel Requires Declaration” or “Your Consignment,” and reference packaged or other items that are being held by CBP. Variations of these messages may include an attached file which contains a damaging computer virus.

These e-mails are not authentic and have not been sent from the Department of Homeland Security or any CBP authorized system or individual. CBP does not contact individuals by e-mail for customs declarations issues. If you have received a similar e-mail message, do not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the emails. Do not respond to, or otherwise contact the sender or provide any information requested.

Please report the occurrence to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) on the Report Phishing page.

If you believe you are the victim of this scam or other Internet crime, or if you are aware of an attempted crime, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center.

CBP Launches Broker Self-Assessment Pilot Program

On Monday, April 27, 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced the launch of the Broker Self-Assessment (BSA) Outreach Pilot.

Similar to the ISA, brokers participating in the BSA must commit to update and improve internal controls, perform periodic testing of these internal controls, and disclose to CBP deficiencies discovered through the testing. The primary goal of the pilot is to foster a higher level of broker compliance with CBP laws and regulations, and identify and facilitate low risk trade.

In order to be eligible to participate in the BSA Pilot, a licensed customs broker must:

1. Be a licensed customs broker for a minimum period of five years.
2. Be a member with full benefits of the CTPAT.
3. Agree to comply with all applicable CBP laws and regulations.
4. Work in an automated environment through the Automated Broker Interface and the Automated Commercial Environment.
5. Possess a broker national permit.
6. Have and maintain a system of business records that demonstrates the accuracy of CBP transactions.
7. Complete a BSA Pilot Questionnaire and agree to:

  • Continue to maintain and update its internal controls;
  • Perform periodic testing of its internal control system based on risk;
  • Make appropriate adjustments to the internal controls system with an eye toward improvement;
  • Inform CBP of deficiencies identified in periodic testing using voluntary disclosures permitted under the BSA Pilot

Applications to participate in the pilot program will be accepted through May 27. After the application period closes, CBP will review the applications and select a limited number of participants representing key sectors of the brokerage community or whose structure and processes present potential challenges. All brokers meeting the requirements are encouraged to apply, as CBP will be seeking a representative group of small, medium and large organizations.

Additional information can be found in the
Federal Register.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trade Terms Tuesday

Welcome to Trade Terms Tuesday! Each Tuesday the blog will feature three trade-related terms. In order to reach out to our diverse readership, we will provide one for exports, one for imports and one for logistics/transportation. This week, we start with the A’s. Even though we have three different terms this week, the terms are somewhat related because they all represent an electronic process.

Automated Export System (AES)
The Automated Export System (AES) is the electronic method used to transmit the required export information and manifest information directly to Customs & Border Protection. Prior to AES, the declaration was submitted using the paper, Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED). AES was designed to assure compliance with and enforcement of laws relating to exporting, improve trade statistics, reduce duplicate reporting to multiple agencies, and improve customer service. Penalties may be imposed for incorrect submissions.

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)
The Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) is the new account-based processing system designed to consolidate and automate border processing to enhance border security and foster our Nation's economic security. ACE supports account-based import processing. Customs and the trade are able to use ACE to facilitate processing and analysis of entry activities in the aggregate rather than on a transaction-by-transaction basis. ACE reduces labor-intensive efforts and improves compliance efforts for both brokers and importers. ACE improves communication between CBP and the trade community, allows the trade to access their own trade data, and allows for sharing information with other government agencies.

Automated Manifest System (AMS)
The Automated Manifest System is an electronic cargo control and release notification system for air, sea, rail and truck carriers. AMS is used for cargo inventory control and cargo release notification. AMS interfaces with Customs Cargo Selectivity and the In Bond System, which expedites the flow of cargo and entry processing and provides participants with electronic authorization to move cargo. AMS also reduces the need for paper documents and expedites the processing of manifest and waybill data, thus allowing cargo to move from one point to another in less time. The National In Bond System, incorporated within AMS, provides a means of tracking and transporting merchandise from one port to another within the United States.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Components of Valuation

For almost two months, we have been discussing valuation of imported goods. Now that we’ve discussed the various methods of valuation, we’ll look at the various components of valuation.

You may remember reading that transaction value is the price paid or payable for the imported products. Sounds simple, right? Well, it does provide us with a basis to start, but now we must determine if the "price paid" actually includes everything that is required. Then we must also determine if there are items included that could be deducted. Why would we want to do this? Why can't we just take the value on the sheet of paper and use it? The short explanation is that the price paid may not include items that must be included in order for the value to be reported according to CBP requirements. If we fail to add these required items, then the value is understated and CBP will not collect the correct amount of duties. Undervaluing merchandise means CBP collects LESS duty than required and being cheated out of monies will not make CBP happy. Then again, you probably wouldn't be too happy if your employers didn't pay you the proper amounts. Many of the valuation components fall into the categories of dutiable or non-dutiable. Some of these components fall into only one category, while others may fall into both, depending on how the transaction is structured. This article introduces you to the concepts of dutiable and non-dutiable components to value. Over the next few weeks, the articles will cover some of these components in more detail.

Dutiable Components

What costs are considered dutiable? Although transaction value may seem to be the price actually paid or payable for the merchandise, there are often arrangements between the buyer and seller that include supplementary agreements which can affect transaction value. Take a close look at the invoice to determine if dutiable components have been properly included. If not, then their values must be added. What are some of these dutiable components?

· Assists provided by the buyer
· Packing costs incurred by the buyer
· Selling commissions incurred by the buyer
· Repairs and warranties
· Proceeds of any subsequent resale, disposal, or use of the imported merchandise that accrue, directly or indirectly, to the seller

Non-Dutiable Components

Transaction value of imported merchandise should not include any of the following if identified separately from the price actually paid or payable. We refer to these items as the non-dutiable components.

  • International transportation costs
  • Cost of transporting the goods after they have been imported
  • International insurance
  • Cost of any prepaid customs duties and other federal taxes
  • Costs of constructing, erecting, assembling, maintaining, or providing technical assistance for goods after importation into the U.S.
  • Buying Commissions

Next Monday we will start to explore the dutiable components. Join us tomorrow as we start a new series called "Trade Term Tuesdays."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don’t Leave Home Without It!

Effective June 1, 2009, the WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative) will require all persons to present a valid passport when entering the United States by land or sea. The documentation requirements for air travel have been in effect since January 2007.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. and Canadian travelers to present a passport or other document that shows identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. The goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors, while strengthening U.S. border security. Standard documents will allow the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and accurately identify parties entering the U.S. Military personnel traveling under orders may present photo id and orders. Family members must present a passport (with the exception of children 15 and younger arriving by land or sea). If traveling from outside the Western Hemisphere, all U.S. citizens MUST present a passport, including children and infants.

On June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, by land or sea, will be required to present one of the travel documents listed below. Many of these documents are already available, and obtaining one now will ensure that you are ready on June 1, 2009, when they will be required.

U.S. Passport – This internationally recognized travel document verifies a person’s identity and nationality. It is accepted for travel by air, land and sea. The cost is $100 for persons age 16 and older, valid for 10 years for adults and issued by the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. Passport Card – This new, limited-use travel document fits in your wallet and costs less than a U.S. Passport. It is only valid for travel by land and sea. The cost is $45 for persons age 16 & older, valid for 10 years for adults and issued by the U.S. Department of State.

Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL) – Several states and Canadian provinces/territories are issuing this driver’s license or identification document that shows identity and citizenship. It is specifically designed for cross-border travel into the U.S. by land or sea. Currently, New York, Vermont and Washington issue the EDL.

Trusted Traveler Program Cards – NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment cards can speed entry into the U.S. and are issued only to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. The cards are valid for use at land crossings or sea ports; the NEXUS card can be used in airports with a NEXUS kiosk. Each card is issued by CBP and valid for 5 years. Costs range form $50 to $122.

Special Groups – Specially designated groups have different requirements. These groups include children, Native Americans, cruise ship passengers, U.S. lawful permanent residents, ferries and small boats and boaters.

With the new requirements taking effect at the start of prime travel time, it is anticipated that summer trips across the border may decrease as a result of the new requirements. Coupled with the slow economy, the financial impact is likely to be felt the most by popular tourist areas on either side the Canadian border. Don’t take the chance that your summer vacation could be ruined. Apply for the proper documents today!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is It Time To Increase Informal Entry Amount?

Recently, members of the newly organized Express Association of America made a request to CBP to increase the current informal entry amount as well as the §321 (de minimis) amount for express couriers. This proposal has numerous potential benefits and very few drawbacks. Some of the benefits include the ability to:

· Redirect CBP resources to focus on security related issues and other high-risk areas.
· Improve productivity for both the trade and CBP.
· Subject fewer shipments subject to time-consuming process of formal entry.
· Reduce paperwork.
· Expedite delivery.
· Reduce MPF payments for shipments (other than express courier) currently falling in the $2,000 to $2,500 range.

Although a small benefit for the trade, the one potential drawback for CBP would be reduced collection of Merchandise Processing Fees. For shipments entered by parties other than express couriers, informal entries are subject to a cap of $2 per entry, whereas the MPF on a $2,000 entry would be $25. Thus, CBP would lose $23 per entry for those entries currently falling between $2,000 and $2,500. Informal entries processed by express couriers are subject to different calculations based on the number of air waybills in 19 CFR 24.23(b). To measure the potential for lost revenue for other shipments, CBP would need to determine how many entries fall within that range and multiply that number times $23. To determine the costs and benefits, CBP would need to take that loss of MPF revenue and weigh that amount with the ability to redirect resources, increased productivity due to reduced investment of time and other potential benefits.

Why wouldn’t CBP want to grant this request? By law, CBP has the authority to do so. As part of the Customs Modernization Act, Congress gave CBP the authority to increase the informal entry amount from $1,250 to $2,500; however, CBP only increased the amount to $2,000 in 1998. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Inflation Calculator, an article that cost $2,000 in 1998 would cost $2,609.93 in 2009. Thus, raising the informal entry limit to $2,500 would help bring the amount in line with inflation that occurred since the limit was last increased in 1998.

Maybe other trade associations should join the EEA and make their wishes known. Since the government is providing stimulus funds to financial institutions and other types of businesses, perhaps this could be the government’s stimulus contribution to the trade.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How Much Could Importers Pay for ISF Violations?

Even though CBP is not issuing penalties related to ISF until January 2010, the trade continues to speculate how enforcement will be structured. While all of the articles on the subject indicate that importers will be subject to liquidated damages penalties of $5,000 per violation, it is still unclear as to what constitutes a violation. CBP provides some guidance in the ISF FAQ posted on their website. When asked if there could be multiple violations on one ISF, the following answer was given: “While there may be multiple errors on an ISF transmission, CBP will issue liquidated damages for $5,000 for each ISF transmission that is not timely, complete and/or accurate.” Right away, we see that there could be more than one penalty issued for a single shipment since the ISF could be filed untimely and it could contain errors. Ouch!

Remember, the ISF Importer is ultimately responsible for the timely, accurate and complete submission of the ISF filing. Who is the ISF importer?
Part 149.1 of the CBP Regulations states: “For purposes of this part, ‘Importer Security Filing (ISF) Importer’ means the party causing goods to arrive within the limits of a port in the United States by vessel. ISF Importer will be the goods' owner, purchaser, consignee, or agent such as a licensed customs broker.” If the importer enlists the services of a broker to file the data and an error is made or the data is not filed timely, which party gets the penalty? Similar to filing entry documentation, the importer is ultimately liable for the accuracy of the filing. Therefore, the importer could be liable for a minimum of $5000 per filing. Consider a worst-case scenario. The ISF data is not filed timely ($5,000), the first transmission contains an error ($5,000) and the second transmission to fix the first one contains an error. ($5,000). In this situation, it appears the importer could be responsible for $15,000 in penalties for one filing. Hopefully, the chances of this scenario occurring in actual practice are slim. It would not be a happy surprise for importers to receive a penalty letter containing a bill for $15,000. To reduce the chances of penalties, importers and agents should work very closely to reduce the potential for any errors. Additionally, the trade should consider working together with CBP to find a more palatable penalty structure.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Valuation and the Customs Broker Exam

As we continue our series on valuation, this week we will address one of the difficult questions from the April 2009 Customs Broker Exam. Valuation questions included on the exam are usually difficult. The key to answering Question 76 on this exam is knowing what components can be deducted and in what order.

Note: This is not the official answer to Question 76, but an attempt to analyze the question and provide a starting place for discussion.

Question 76
Select the correct answer for calculating the transaction value of a shipment with details as follows:

• $1,750,000 entered amount
• CIF New York Duty Paid, MPF included
• Price includes $25,000 ocean freight, $25 marine insurance, $1500 trucking freight (New York to Baltimore, MD), $100 broker fee in Baltimore, $100,000 customs duties and fees.
• The actual duty rate is 6.5%
• The actual MPF rate is 0.21%

Potential Answers:

A. TV = entered amount minus ocean freight, marine insurance, trucking freight, and customs broker fee; add MPF and 6.5% duty.

B. TV – entered amount minus ocean freight, marine insurance, trucking freight and customs broker fee. Divide remainder by 1.0671. Multiply the remainder by .0021. Subtract $485from the entered amount minus the authorized deductions. Divide the remainder by 1.065.

C. TV = entered amount minus ocean freight, marine insurance, trucking freight, maximum MPF, and 6.5% actual duty rate.

D. Divide out the actual duty rate, and then subtract the ocean freight, marine insurance, trucking freight and customs broker fee.

E. TV = entered amount minus ocean freight, marine insurance, and trucking freight fee and divide by 1.06701, multiply by .0021 for actual MPF; subtract MPF as allowed from the entered amount minus deductions and divide by 1.065 to yield Transaction Value.

Let's determine the status of each component.
1. 25,000 freight - not dutiable [152.102(f)]
2. $2500 insurance - not dutiable [152.102(f)]
3. $1500 U.S. domestic transportation - not dutiable [152.103(i)(1)(ii)]
4. $100 broker fee - not dutiable [152.102(f) - related services]
5. Duties - not dutiable [152.103(i)(2)]
6. MPF - not dutiable [152.103(i)(2)]

Answer A is incorrect because duty and MPF are deducted, not added.
Answer C is incorrect because the brokerage fees should be deducted. This would be the second best answer.
Answer D is incorrect because duty should not be divided out on the amount that includes freight and insurance since these two items are non dutiable and their value should not be included in the amount duty is calculated on. Answer E is incorrect because the brokerage fee should be deducted before calculating the duty.
Answer B is the best answer, as explained below.

Deduct the ocean freight, insurance trucking freight and broker fee. Then divide the remainder by the duty and MPF rate. Since the maximum deduction for MPF is $485and this amount is met due to the value, only $485 should be deducted and then the duty can be deducted.

$1,750,000 - $25,000 - $2,500 - $1,500 - $100 = $1,720,900
$1,720,900/1.0671 = $1,612,689
$1,612,689 x .0021 = $3,386.61 MPF = $485 Max MPF

Go back to the value determined after deducting freight, insurance, trucking and broker fee:
$1,720,900 - $485 = $1,720,415

Calculate Duty Deduction
$1,720,415/1.065 = $1,615,413

Now that the Wizard has provided some thoughts on the potential answer to this question, we would like to hear from our readers. Is this explanation correct? Is there a better answer? We are looking forward to some great discussions on this issue, so please respond with your thoughts and answers for this question.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Latest News on ISF

From its introduction, the ISF has been a hot topic with importers, brokers, carriers and other members of the trade. Now that the trade is submitting the data elements, ISF still receives a lot of recognition in the news. To keep you updated on some of the new information, we have provided a list below along with a link to more detailed information.

1. RLF Eligibility – Entry/entry summary data can be transmitted using the RLF Prototype.

2. New Part Added to the CFR – Part 149 Importer Security Filing has been added to the CBP Regulations.

3. CBP Presentation – CBP posted a detailed PowerPoint presentation on ISF.

4. CBP Outreach – CBP has been conducting meetings with the trade in various cities all year. intended to give the importing and filing community a basic understanding of how to fulfill the new requirements. The next session will be held in Detroit on April 22. Dates for Atlanta, GA and Norfolk, VA will be announced soon.

5. ISF Performance Reports - CBP is ready to send out the Importer Security Filing (ISF) Performance Reports to filers, who may redistribute relevant portions to individual importers.

Tell us what you think about ISF and share your best practices, questions and other comments with other blog readers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Check Your Marine Insurance

Until recent events, most of us probably thought pirates were a major league baseball team or something to see at the movies. Guess what? Pirates are alive and well in the Gulf of Aden. Things did end badly for three of the pirates when the Navy snipers killed them during their rescue of Maersk ship captain, Richard Phillips, but why does this concern importers and exporters? The answer is simple, marine insurance. "Premiums are going to go up because the pirates are going to become a little more vicious and hold out for more money," states Paul Keane, a partner at Cichanowicz, Callan, Keane, Vengrow & Textor LLP, who specializes in maritime cases. As evidenced this week, the pirates have become more violent.

With increased incidents of hijacking and violence, the marine insurance risks increase. Ship owners are being forced to carry more insurance and are bound to pass this cost on to their customers. Many importers and exporters also carry insurance on their marine cargo and those rates will rise. Now is the time to do a little checkup on your insurance coverage. Contact your broker, insurance carrier, or other party responsible for procuring marine insurance to find out more about how the pirates will cost your company more money.

HERE for a list of marine insurance companies and more information about maritime law.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Methods of Valuation: Prohibited Valuation

We want to thank our loyal readers who indulged us last week as we took a break from our regular blog schedule to post and discuss answers to the most recent Customs Broker Exam. Now, we'll return to our study on "Methods of Valuation." Last week we discussed computed value and derived value. Now that we have covered all of the acceptable methods of appraisement, we will finish this series with a list of methods that are prohibited.

Imported merchandise may not be appraised on the basis of:

a. Selling price in the U.S. of merchandise produced in the U.S.
b. A system that provides for the appraisement of imported merchandise at the higher of two alternative values.
c. The price of merchandise in the domestic market of the country of exportation.
d. The cost of production, other than a value determined under 19 CFR 152.106 for merchandise that is identical merchandise or similar merchandise to the merchandise being appraised.
e. The price of merchandise for export to a country other than the U.S.
f. Minimum values for appraisement.
g. Arbitrary or fictitious values.

Broker receives an invoice consisting of 5000 chainsaws valued at $20 each for a total of $100,000. In addition, the invoice includes 5 chainsaws and 10 blades free-of-charge. Broker calls Importer and requests values for the free-of-charge items. Importer tells Broker that all of the free-of-charge items are worth $1.00 each because Importer is not required to pay Seller for them.

This is clearly an example of an "arbitrary or fictitious" value. Regardless of the nature of the transaction between Importer and Seller, CBP requires the true value for all merchandise entered into the commerce, not just some arbitrary number. Failure to provide CBP with accurate valuation information will be considered a violation of the "reasonable care" standard and will subject the importer to penalties.

Next week we will start a series covering the various “components” of valuation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Preliminary Answers for the April 2009 Exam


As many people sit on pins and needles waiting to see the answers posted for the most recent Customs Broker’s Exam, our very own Wizard has taken the exam and provided a list of possible answers and related regulations where the answers were found. Since we just received the exam this morning, the Wizard has not had time to complete all of the answers, so we are posting what the Wizard has completed today. We will post the remaining answers on Wednesday.

We invite you to post your answers, explanations, arguments and other comments. Obviously, Boskage Commerce Publications cannot guarantee the accuracy of these answers since CBP has the one and only answer key, but the Wizard has an excellent record of achieving a score of better than 90%.

Click HERE to view an complete copy of the Wizard’s answers for the April 2009 Exam!



April 2009 Exam Copy Received

We received a copy of the April 2009 Customs Broker Exam this morning and the Wizard just started to work. We will try to post preliminary answers (or whatever we have by then) by the close of business at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Monday, April 6, 2009

April 2009 Exam Needed

Does anyone have time to send a copy of the April 2009 Customs Broker Exam that was given today? The Wizard was hoping to work on it tonight so the preliminary answers could be posted on Tuesday. If you have a copy to send us today before 7:00 EST, please send by fax or email to the following:

Attention: Wizard
FAX: 269-673-5901

Methods of Valuation: Computed Value

Welcome back to our series on "Methods of Valuation." Last week we discussed “Deductive Value.” This week we will look at Computed Value and Derived Value.

Computed Value
Computed value is the fifth method of valuation. If it is inappropriate to use any of the other methods, then computed value must be used. Computed value combines the value of the materials and other components of the imported merchandise in order to arrive at a value.

The computed value of imported merchandise is the sum of:

• Cost or value of the materials and the fabrication and other processing of any kind employed in the production of the imported merchandise (cost will not include taxes if the tax is refunded upon exportation);

• An amount for profit and general expenses equal to that usually reflected in sales of merchandise of the same class or kind as the imported merchandise that are made by the producer in the country of exportation (Based on the producer's profit and general expenses, unless the producer's profit and general expenses are inconsistent with the usual sales of merchandise of the same class or kind.);

• Any assist, if its value is not included above; and

• Packing costs.

Computed value may be used before deductive value if requested by the importer and approved by CBP. This election must be made at the time of entry. For an example, read ruling
HQ 546735.

Example 1:
General expenses include items that are not allocatable to the production of goods such as:

• Administrative salaries
• Casualty and liability insurance
• Advertising costs
• Salesman's commissions and expenses

Example 2:
Computed value includes the amount equal to the apportioned value of any assists used in the production of the imported merchandise. The value of any engineering, development, artwork, design work and plans and sketches undertaken in the United States will be included in computed value only to the extent that their value has been charged to the producer.

Derived Value
Derived value, also known as the “fallback” method, is the sixth and final method of valuation. If all other methods are inappropriate, then derived value must be used. Derived value determines the dutiable value using a combination of the other five methods, and allows for the value to be "reasonably adjusted to the extent necessary."

Next week, we will complete this series on Methods of Valuation by presenting Prohibited Methods of Valuation.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pack Your Bags: The Custom Broker Exam Checklist

With the exam just a few days away, it’s time to start thinking about what to pack for the exam. You will be using most of your resource materials up until the day before the exam, so it’s impossible to pack them in advance of the actual test. However, you can use the practical checklist we’ve created to make sure that you have everything on the list packed in your heavy-duty tote bag, large cardboard box or other container the night before the exam. If you are like most people, you may be a little nervous prior to the exam so you don’t want to run the risk of forgetting something important or being late because you couldn’t find your calculator, pens or other materials. Packing everything on your checklist the night before will help you relax and reduce unnecessary stress.

Click HERE to view and print your Customs Brokers License Exam Materials Checklist. You can customize this list to add specific items that you plan take to the exam. No matter what you plan to take, make sure to use the checklist to ensure you have each item packed and ready to go the night before the exam. Remember, electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones are prohibited.

Bureau of Census & Department of Defense

For the past few weeks we have introduced government agencies that regulate exports. Last week we introduced the S. Department of State – Directorate of Defense Controls. This week’s spotlight is on the Bureau of Census and Department of Defense.

Bureau of Census
As part of the Department of Commerce, the U.S. Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division (FTD) is responsible for collection, processing and disseminating statistical data related to the United States’ trade (imports and exports) with foreign countries. In addition, Census issues the regulations for export reporting, oversees the Automated Export System (AES) and provides free filing access for the required information through AESDirect. Census does not issue licenses or “authorizations to ship product.”

A wide variety of trade statistics and information about the export regulations, AES and AESDirect, is available on the Census Bureau’s website. The data collected by the Census Bureau is considered confidential; therefore, it is illegal for information from individuals to be released. Data based on the items that are traded instead of the companies or individuals doing the trading is available. The information collected via AES is provided to BIS and DDTC for export control purposes.

Department of Defense
The Department of Defense (DoD) has oversight of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, as well as non-combat agencies such as the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency The mission of the DoD is to provide military forces to deter war and to protect the security of the U.S. Working with the Department of Homeland Security, the DoD seeks to fight terrorism. To that end, the DoD reviews a certain percentage of export licenses issued by the Department of State. A key objective of the agency is to prevent certain technologies from falling into the wrong hands.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 11: Free Trade Agreements

With the increase of free trade agreements between the U.S. and other countries, the number of questions on the CBE related to these agreements has increased. In fact, “Trade Agreements” often has its very own section of questions on the exam. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are international agreements made between two or more nations that relate to common trade or service issues. FTAs reduce or eliminate all tariffs and other restrictions on substantially all the trade in goods between its member countries based on country of origin.

The information needed to answer questions about (FTA’s) is likely to be found in one of three places, the General Notes of the HTSUS, Chapters 98 an 99 of the HTSUS and 19 CFR Part 10. Memorize the titles of these General Notes and skim the text to become familiar with the topics covered in each. In your review of the programs, concentrate on the basic requirements such as tariff shift, de minimis and RVC requirements. Each program has different requirements regarding allowance of the special duty treatment, and some of these programs are subject to change. Most of these programs have very detailed requirements that must be met in order to claim the duty-free status. Additionally, these programs are often difficult to understand and some have limited use in daily practice. Don’t be too overwhelmed when encountering these problems. If they appear too difficult, move on and come back to them later.

Don’t overlook important terminology. Be sure to know the definitions for each of the following:

• Accumulation
• Direct Cost of Processing
• De Minimis
• Imported Directly
• Transshipment
• Regional Value Content RVC
• Tariff Shift
• Substantial Transformation

To view a list of the FTA’s, the references to the HTSUS General Notes, SPI and CFR references, click HERE.

We welcome your comments on these suggestions and encourage you to add your own ideas to this forum so that other students studying for the exam can benefit from your experiences. Check the Boskage Trade News regularly for more helpful hints on studying for the Customs Broker Exam and other useful news for international trade professionals!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

International Trade Compliance Circus

Wednesday is “news day” for the Boskage Trade News Blog. While reviewing the news for something worthy to print, the Wizard came across an article about the trade circus. Ok, the article was really about the “trade caucus,” but the Wizard was tired and visions of a trade circus danced in my head. With the state of the economy, the circus might be the only thing we can afford this year, so join me as we take a quick trip to the International Trade Compliance Circus.

Welcome to the International Trade Compliance Circus – you will never think of trade compliance in the same way again! The Ringmaster for the day is the Commissioner of U.S. Customs & Border Protection. He (or she) will be assisted by many officers who will be happy to assist you during your visit. First on our program for the day is the 10 + 2 ISF Elephant. ISF weighs 12000 lbs, so be careful to follow our instructions and she will not crush you. Next up, we have Lacey the Lion. Do not place any valuable body parts in her path if you want to keep them. The last importer foolishly tried to ignore her and was penalized an arm and a leg. For those of you who have been compliant this year, we will reward you with some free C-TPAT peanuts at the concession stand. If you look up, you will find a group of AES Acrobats demonstrating their skill, agility and coordination while walking the tight rope and swinging from the trapeze. Hang on tight – if they make a mistake it could cost them dearly. You cannot have a circus without the clowns and jugglers. Due to the economy, we have had to lay off our jugglers, but we have the clowns standing in to demonstrate the proper way for trade compliance departments to work and play well with others.
To your left, you will see volunteers who are taking a break from studying for the Customs Broker Exam to be given next week. They are standing next to the CBE Cannon that is going to give them a ride on a cannonball. Next, you will experience a little magic as DOC and DOS make some license requests disappear. As a finale to our show, we will be drawing names out of the Ringmaster’s top hat for parting gifts to some of our guests. If your ticket number is called, please step right up and pick up your penalty notice. Penalties may be paid to the cashier at the exit.

We hope you have enjoyed your trip to the International Trade Compliance Circus! Please come back again. For a real treat, visit the
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey website. Happy April Fool’s Day!