Renewal of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill to Benefit US Importers

A recently re-enacted law called the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), offers U.S. importers the opportunity to persuade the federal government that a raw material or intermediate product they bring into the country should be exempt from tariffs, according to the Journal of Commerce.

This law, which had not been in place since a previous version expired in 2012, allows manufacturers to request that the import tariff be temporarily removed on a product they import as long as there is no U.S.-based competitor. For a product to become exempt, the applicants must show that they will benefit by no more than $500,000 a year if the tariff is removed.

The law gives importers the first chance to apply for such exemption since the last application period under the earlier bill, in 2009.

Under the new law, which was signed by President Barack Obama in May, companies have 60 days from October 15th to petition the U.S. International Trade Commission to remove the tariff on a raw material or intermediate product. A second 60-day period in which companies can submit a petition will begin in the Fall of 2019.

The enactment ended a three-year standoff over the bill, during which its passage was blocked by gridlock in Congress and a ban on “earmarks,” or benefits for special interests, which some legislators believed could include the tariff removal.

The introduction of the new MTB process would help manufacturers remain competitive . “This legislation will help to level the playing field with competitors overseas who do not endure these punitive taxes,” as the CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers put it.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international shipping.

 

FMCSA Adjusts Motor Carrier Civil Penalties

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued an interim final rule that  has changed its motor carrier civil penalties for violations of federal regulations during the adjustment for inflation process, according to Transport News.

Some fines are higher than previous years, and some are lower, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration made the adjustments based on the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

Those adjustments result in most penalties jumping from 10% to more than 105%. The adjusted penalties go into effect August 1st. The rule provides for some of the more serious penalties to be assessed on a daily basis if a carrier fails to take corrective action or obey out-of-service or suspension orders. Although most of the penalty increases are computed using a formula, others are left to the discretion of the agency, according to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015.

The largest increase was for each day a carrier conducts operations after a suspension or revocation, which more than doubled to $22,587 from $11,000. The penalty for operating in violation of an out-of-service order jumped 41%, to $22,587 from $16,000, according to the rule.

By contrast, the agency decreased the penalty for a driver operating a commercial vehicle during the period the driver was placed out of service to $1,782 from $3,100. The penalty for serious violations of hazardous materials regulations remained the most costly, increasing to $179,933 from $175,000.

 

Port of Oakland Implements “Extended Gate Fee” Effective June 27th

Please be advised that the Port of Oakland is implementing  Extended Gate Fee of $30 which will go into effect Monday June 27th, 2016 and will apply to all import and export loads coming in and out of the terminal both shifts (day and night).  This Extended Gate Fee is based on a 90-day TRIAL BASIS and will be further reviewed after that time.
This fee will fund the cost of full night operations at the port, which have helped to mitigate the congestion and delays of the daylight hours. Previously the night operations were financed by a Port subsidy which expires this month.
While there have been mixed reviews on the results of the first test, with many customers of the port indicating that there is less traffic and shorter lines at the terminals at night, but that once inside the terminal, the delays are worse.
 If you have any questions, feel free to contact  RCL Agencies at 973-779-5900

Port of Oakland Introduces Phone App for Truckers

The Port of Oakland has introduced a mobile phone app “DrayQ”  to help truckers cope with busy cargo gates at the shipping hub.

The new app is available at Apple and Google app stores with no charge. The app tells drivers how long they’ll wait to enter marine terminal gates and how long transactions are taking. The Port said that the app will display how long it takes to enter terminal gates. It will also calculate how long drivers must wait to complete transactions. The times will appear on mobile phone screens much like freeway drive-time signboards.

The Port said its new technology could fundamentally change seaport operations in two ways:

For the first time, truckers and dispatchers will have a precise measure of how long a terminal transaction takes. If it’s too long, drivers can plan around slow periods.

Cargo owners and terminal operators will now have accurate data to determine if containerized shipments are being efficiently processed. If they’re not, the data can help pinpoint where operational changes are needed.

Port of Oakland is the first U.S. port to introduce such an app.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about global trade and international shipping.

US Congress Passes Customs bill to Streamline Import Duties

Last week  the Senate overwhelmingly passed a U.S. Customs and Border Protection bill that will streamline import duties on goods destined to be re-exported and allow articles exported from the country to be commingled for the first time , as reported by the Journal of Commerce.  The bill also toughens U.S. trade law enforcement and rules against currency manipulation.

The Senate passed the legislation in a 75-20 vote, after the bill had stalled because of an Internet tax ban included in its final language. The legislation now heads to the White House before becoming law.

This bill marks a “a major step forward” for the U.S. in international trade, according to Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who helped spearhead the legislation.

Overall, the bill reauthorizes the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, streamlines trade rules that aim to keep importers from avoiding U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties, adds new protections for intellectual property rights and provides more tools to identify and address currency manipulation. Drawback, or the amount of excise or import duty remitted on imported goods that the importer re-exports rather than sells domestically, has also been streamlined under the bill.

The legislation will standardize the time frames for filing drawback and modernize claimant record keeping requirements. Drawback claimants will have to retain records for five years after liquidation. Drawback claims will have to be filed electronically and no later than five years after the date on which the merchandise is imported or, if the claim is based on merchandise imported on more than one date, the earliest date.

The legislation also grants duty-free treatment to any exported product returned to the U.S. within three years of being exported and certain U.S. government property returned to the country. Articles exported from the U.S. are also allowed to be commingled and the origin, value and classification of such articles may be accounted for using an inventory management method for the first time.

The bill also increases the de minimis threshold on the value of goods that can be imported by one person on one day free of duty and tax, something which should benefit e-commerce.

The bill stops short of sanctions on currency manipulation, but does allow the U.S. to bar countries from trade deals and government procurement contracts if they artificially devalue their currencies to gain a competitive advantage through cheaper exports.

Many inside the trade industry hope the legislation will ring in a new era, in which U.S. lawmakers are more attentive to changes and evolutions in international trade.

Port of Oakland Closing Major Terminal

Ports America (PA), the largest terminal operator and stevedore in the US,  announced last week that it was terminating its 50-year lease of the Outer Harbor Terminal (OHT) at the Port of Oakland with cargo operations ending in 30 days and a full terminal shutdown in 60 days.

Port of Oakland officials promised to keep cargo moving efficiently , the vessels will be rerouted to adjacent terminals after after Ports America Outer Harbor terminal will be closed in March. Port representatives assured shipping lines and cargo owners that planning is already underway to minimize the shutdown’s impact.

The Port said the departure of Ports America provides two significant opportunities. First of all, ships and cargo can be redirected to Oakland’s other marine terminals which have excess capacity and also the Port can find new, better uses for Ports America Outer Harbor Terminal. Options for the land could include uses unrelated to containerized cargo operations, the Port said.

Port officials said their priority is minimizing customer impact and maintaining Oakland’s cargo volume. There is ample capacity to absorb Outer Harbor’s volume at other Oakland terminals, the Port said. It added that terminal operators are preparing for the cargo migration.

Oakland International Container Terminal has opened Saturday and occasional weeknight gates for two months. The extra hours enable harbor truckers to pick-up or drop-off cargo outside peak hours

According to The Wall Street Journal, this announcement is occurring at a time when the maritime industry is in a transition period. There is little growth in freight rates and, as a result, some shipping companies are merging and forming partnerships to stabilize and strengthen operations.

Stay informed with RCL updates about the latest maritime news.

EManifest Needed for US Truckers Heading to Canada

Starting from January 11th, carriers who are not compliant with the new eManifest rules that require northbound freight information to arrive at the Canada-U.S. border at least one hour before the freight itself arrives, will be subject to financial penalties or even can be rejected.

According to the Canada Border Services Agency, even carriers who voluntarily return to the U.S. may still be subject to penalties. The agency says a voluntary compliance period remains in effect for freight forwarders.

According to the CBSA website, the agency may issue penalties for:

  • failing to provide advance information;
  • failing to provide advance information in the prescribed time or in the prescribed manner;
  • failing to correct advance information;
  • failing to provide true/accurate/complete information; and/or
  • failing to comply with an electronic customs Risk Assessment notice.

Highway carriers hauling into Canada are now required to transmit their cargo and conveyance data to authorities at least an hour prior to arrival at the border or eventually risk delays, financial penalties, or denial of entry. The Canadian border initiative known as eManifest is similar to what Canadians must use when they haul into the U.S.

The data cannot be submitted via phone or fax. Rather it is sent through a secure website that requires motor carriers to obtain a special code to log in.

Highway carriers will need to obtain a carrier code issued by Canada Border Services Agency to accompany their transmissions. Data transmissions to the agency are done electronically through various options including a secure online eManifest portal.

More information about the  eManifest can be found at Canada Border Services Agency at cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/prog/manif/menu-eng.html.

If you have any additional questions please contact RCL Agencies at 973-779-5900.

Mississippi Floodwaters Could Affect Vessel Schedules

Yesterday, the Mississippi River reached 14 feet with minor flooding forecast. The National Weather Service (NWS) said the river is expected to reach it’s flood stage of 17 feet by Saturday.  Officials said the impact of the river reaching flood stage will make navigation and docking of vessels difficult. The city of New Orleans is protected to at least 20 feet, the NWS said.

There has been no impact to normal operations at the Port of New Orleans despite high water conditions of the Mississippi River.  All public port facilities in the jurisdiction of the Port of New Orleans remain open. The Port continues to handle cargo ships and cruise ships under its normal schedule , states the Port of New Orleans.

However, due to the rising flood waters  some vessels may elect to omit the port of New Orleans. The river will rise to a depth / height that will limit the air draft under the bridge in the approach to the terminal. Individual vessel specs, cargo weight, water draft are all taken into consideration when it comes to air draft.

Communities along the Mississippi River in Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana are experiencing record high-water levels, which may also affect road and rail operations.

Please feel free to contact us if you questions regarding your cargo at 973-779-5900.

 

Exportation of Self-Propelled Vehicles from the Port of NY/NJ

Please be advised that effective immediately, the customs procedures for export of self-propelled vehicles from the Port of New York/New Jersey have changed.

As per the released Informational Pipeline No. 16-004-NWK, Revised Procedures for Exporting Self-Propelled Vehicles document, the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) will now require a stamped release for export vehicles before being loaded to a vessel. The mandatory requirement outlines that both carriers and the terminal will not be authorized to load vehicles for export without such a stamped release.

The CBP will require all stamped release documents to be presented to the steamship line prior to loading vehicles for export. This compliance is mandatory effective immediately.

You may find more information about this process on the CBP website.  Revised Procedures for Exporting Self-Propelled Vehicles document can be found here.

Should you have any questions, please contact  us at (973) 779-5900.

 

New US Customs Bill Would Streamline Import and Export Processes

Last week U.S. lawmakers announced that they had come to a deal on a U.S. Customs and Border Protection bill that would streamline import duties on goods destined to be re-exported and allow articles exported from the U.S. to be commingled for the first time, according to the Journal of Commerce. The bill also toughens U.S. trade law enforcement and rules against currency manipulation.

This is the first overhaul of Customs in roughly 15 years and one that many have said is long overdue.

The legislation, agreed to by lawmakers from parties and both chambers of Congress, reconciles two bills introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year.  Overall, the bill reauthorizes the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to  streamline trade rules that aim to keep importers from avoiding U.S. anti-dumping and countervailing duties; add new protections for intellectual property rights and provide more tools to identify and address currency manipulation.

Drawback, or the amount of excise or import duty remitted on imported goods that the importer re-exports rather than sells domestically, has also been streamlined under the bill.  The legislation would standardize the time frames for filing drawback and modernize claimant record-keeping requirements. Drawback claimants would have to retain records for five years after liquidation. Drawback claims would have to be filed electronically and no later than five years after the date on which the merchandise is imported or, if the claim is based on merchandise imported on more than one date, the earliest date.

The legislation also grants duty-free treatment to any exported product returned to the U.S. within three years of being exported and certain U.S. government property returned to the country. Articles exported from the U.S. are also allowed to be commingled and the origin, value and classification of such articles may be accounted for using an inventory management method for the first time.

This bill  should be especially beneficial to North America trade, where “some people use warehouses or distribution centers in Canada and Mexico along the border and goods are moving in and out all the time”, said Nicole Bivens Collinson, president of international trade and government affairs at the Washington law offices of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg

The bill also increases the de minimis threshold on the value of goods that can be imported by one person on one day free of duty and tax, something Collinson says is “good for e-commerce and business.”

The deal stops short of sanctions on currency manipulation, but does allow the U.S. to bar countries from trade deals and government procurement contracts if they artificially devalue their currencies to gain a competitive advantage through cheaper exports.

The negotiated bill would also grant preferential treatment for some imports coming out of Nepal, in the wake of an earthquake earlier this year that devastated the developing South Asia nation.

Although Congress must still pass the new deal announced, most on Capitol Hill and inside the trade industry are optimistic that Customs reauthorization will reach President Obama’s desk before the year’s end. The hope, for many, is that the legislation will ring in a new era, in which U.S. lawmakers are more attentive to changes and evolutions in international trade.

Stay informed with RCL Agencies updates about the global trade and international shipping.