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  • 09/20/2019 8:30 AM | Anonymous

    Home

    Tom Karst

    September 19, 2019

    The new normal for U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes is signed, sealed and delivered.

    With tweaks finalized Sept. 17 by the Commerce Department, representatives of Mexican tomato growers signed a new suspension agreement the early afternoon of Sept. 19. 

    The new agreement will end — likely within a couple of days — the 17.56% duty paid by importers of Mexican tomatoes since early May and replace it with minimum reference prices for U.S. imports of Mexican tomatoes. The agreement, which will be reviewed in five years, also suspends the dumping investigation of Mexican tomatoes into the U.S.

    The Department of Commerce and representatives of Mexican grower groups had initialed a draft Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Duty Investigation on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico on Aug. 20.

    The Department of Commerce said it reviewed comments on the draft agreement and have incorporated changes into the final text, signed on Sept. 19

    “Today’s successful outcome validates the Administration’s strong and smart approach to negotiating trade deals,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a news release.  “The Department’s action brought the Mexican growers to the negotiating table and led to a result that protects U.S. tomato producers from unfair trade. It also removes major uncertainties for the Mexican growers and their workers.”

    The suspension agreement, according to the release, completely eliminates the injurious effects of unfairly priced Mexican tomatoes, prevents price suppression and undercutting, and eliminates substantially all dumping, while allowing Commerce to audit up to 80 Mexican tomato producers and U.S. sellers per quarter, or more with good cause. 

    In addition, the release said the agreement also closes loopholes from past suspension agreements that permitted sales below the reference prices in certain circumstances and includes an inspection mechanism to prevent the importation of low-quality, poor-condition tomatoes from Mexico, which can have price-suppressive effects on the market. 

    The Department of Commerce said the Sept. 19 agreement stems from a Nov. 14 request last year from the Florida Tomato Exchange that Commerce terminate the 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico.

    On Feb. 6 this year, Commerce notified the Mexican signatories that it would withdraw from the 2013 Suspension Agreement.  On May 7, the 2013 Suspension Agreement was terminated and, as a result, Commerce continued its antidumping investigation on imports of fresh tomatoes from Mexico. 

    “Today’s action exemplifies the Trump Administration’s priority of enforcing U.S. trade laws while ensuring that trade agreements are fair, reciprocal, and benefit American farmers, workers, businesses, and consumers,” the release said. “Tomato producers across America, including those in Florida, Texas, and Arizona, will benefit from this agreement.”

    Reaction

    The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas said in a statement that the deal comes with “extreme cost” to importers. The FPAA said importers will face unjustified costs and disruption to business due to the border inspection requirement, which the group called a technical barrier to trade.

    “It is outrageous that Commerce used false justifications to introduce what essentially acts as a quota or volume control method,” Lance Jungmeyer, president of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, said in the release.  “It is completely unnecessary to require USDA to conduct quality inspections on an item that has already demonstrated a historical pass rate of 99.76%.”

    The FPAA estimated that constructing new warehouse space for inspections will cost importers more than $200 million upfront, plus another $50 million a year in fees and other costs.

    Jungmeyer said the inspection provision may invite other countries to impose similar requirements on U.S. exports. “All around, this is a total step backward.”

    On the other  hand, the Florida Tomato Exchange said in a statement that the signing of the agreement is a “step in the right direction to stop further injury to American farmers caused by dumped Mexican tomatoes.”
    The statement said the new suspension agreement includes strong monitoring, enforcement and anti-circumvention provisions, including border inspections, “that should help eliminate the injury to American tomato farmers caused by dumped Mexican tomatoes.” 

    “The border inspections will only cover about 66% of imported Mexican tomatoes, but this provision should discourage dumping of low quality and defective tomatoes, which have been depressing prices and injuring U.S. tomato producers for years,” the statement said.

    “The FTE appreciates the very hard work of Assistant Secretary Jeffrey Kessler and Deputy Assistant Secretary Lee Smith, along with their full team, in reaching this new agreement with the Mexican industry,” the group said. “We also appreciate the crucial work by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in helping develop the border inspection system.”

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said in a statement that the agreement is a "significant win" for U.S. tomato growers. 

    "I thank President Trump and Secretary Ross for not backing down from their commitment to ensure that tomato growers in Florida and across the U.S. are able to fairly compete in our domestic market,” Rubio said in the statement. “This new agreement includes strong monitoring, enforcement and anti-circumvention provisions to defend American-grown produce and should serve as a model for helping to rebalance agricultural trade with Mexico.”

    Mexican tomato interests expressed satisfaction with the agreement.

    “The agreement was hard-fought, but we were able to secure a number of important provisions that will make this deal work for our distributors and customers,” Mario Robles, director of the Sinaloa growers association, said in a statement released by Mexican tomato growers.

    One of the provisions in the agreement, according to Robles, is the commitment that mandatory inspections required by the deal will be conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in accordance with its normal practice, including being done in a timely manner and completed within 24 hours. 

    The Department of Commerce also committed that the inspection program – which does not take effect for at least six months – will be developed and implemented in consultation with experts at the USDA, according to the statement.

    “These provisions help relieve our concerns that the U.S. was setting up a de facto quota or volume restriction,” Rosario Beltran, president of the grower association CAADES, said in the statement. “We hope these provisions will give comfort to the many interests in both countries concerned about bottlenecks at the border and supply chain delays.” 

    Mexican tomato growers, according to the statement, were also able to preserve the ability to sell directly to U.S. retailers and otherwise protect the rights of these and other U.S. buyers to seek damages in the “infrequent event” of a breach of warranty. “It was very important to us that our U.S. customers not lose their options and we are happy that Commerce agreed,” Salvador Garcia, president of the Baja growers association, said in the release.

    “Considering that we started the negotiations with Commerce with the Florida Tomato Exchange demanding that the reference prices should be extended downstream to the final sale and that U.S. buyers be stripped of legal rights, we believe we have ended up in a much better place,” Oscar Woltman, President of AMHPAC, Mexico’s largest growers’ association.

    “We take the Department of Commerce at its word that the agreement is not designed to impede trade and we thank the Department’s team for working with us to make important changes to the agreement in the last 30 days,” Antonio Gandara, president of the Sonora growers association, said in the release. “We look forward to continue supplying the best tomatoes in the world to U.S. consumers.”

    The Florida Tomato Exchange said in their statement that the agreement can only work if it is enforced.

    “The FTE looks forward to working with the Commerce Department and the USDA to ensure that the agreement is enforced vigorously and to identify and stop all efforts to circumvent or undermine its provisions, especially the border inspection system,” the group said. The Florida Tomato Exchange member companies produce close to 50% of the fresh-market tomatoes grown in the U.S., the group states. The Florida Tomato Exchange is the domestic petitioner in the antidumping case against fresh tomatoes from Mexico.

  • 09/05/2019 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    Thursday, September 05, 2019
    Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection has amended its regulations regarding statement processing and Automated Clearinghouse to reflect that final statements will be identified as paid upon the completion of the funds transfer for the ACH debit and credit payment processes. CBP is making a related change to its ongoing test of periodic monthly statements. CBP states that these changes only affect its internal accounting procedures and will result in no associated delays, interruptions, or process changes for the trade community.

    Statement processing allows entry/entry summaries and entry summaries to be grouped by importer or filer on a daily basis. Any related duties, taxes, fees, and interest may be paid with a single payment rather than by individual checks for each entry. The preferred method of payment is ACH, except where the importer has provided a separate check for customs charges (mixing of payment methods for a single statement is prohibited).

    There are two ACH payment processes, ACH debit and ACH credit. Currently when CBP accepts the ACH debit authorization it identifies the preliminary statement as paid and posts the appropriate amounts to the related entries. However, the funds transfer is usually not completed until two business days afterward. CBP is therefore removing the requirement to identify the preliminary statement as paid. The preliminary statement will still be issued but CBP will now identify the final statement as paid and post the appropriate amounts to the related entries upon receiving confirmation from the Treasury Department that the funds are available and transferred to CBP, which marks the completion of the funds transfer.

    CBP is making a similar change for ACH credit, which allows a payor to electronically transmit statement processing payments, deferred tax payments, or bill payments directly to the CBP account maintained by Treasury.

    CBP states that these changes do not affect the timeliness of ACH debit or credit payments. Once CBP receives confirmation that the funds are available and have been transferred it will treat the date of its acceptance of the ACH debit or credit authorization as the effective payment date for purposes of determining the timeliness of the payment. This date will also remain the date for the calculation of interest and/or liquidated damages.

    Similarly, CBP is revising its ongoing test of periodic monthly statements, which allows importers to deposit estimated duties, fees, and taxes on a monthly basis, to reflect that when payment is made via ACH it will identify PMS as paid upon the completion of the funds transfer.
  • 09/05/2019 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    To whom it may concern,

    This notice is to advise you that starting immediately a modification in the way we process the agriculture commodities that fall under the National Agriculture Release Program (NARP) at the port of Eagle Pass.

    All NARP commodities entering our port will proceed to the exit gate without having to park at the dock unless selected for inspection.

    You are responsible for submitting the Notice of Arrival to this email address eaglepassagspecialists@cbp.dhs.gov at least two hours before the commodity arrives at our port and also make sure to attach all entry information to DIS.

    If you have any questions regarding this matter please contact one of the CBP Agriculture Specialist Supervisors. 

    Regards,
    Eliseo De La Garza
    Supervisor Agriculture Specialist
    U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    Eagle Pass, TX
    Office: 830-752-3567
    Cell:    830-213- 0892


  • 09/04/2019 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Wednesday, September 4, 2019
    Office of Public Affairs
    (202) 482-4883
    publicaffairs@doc.gov

    On Wednesday September 4, 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of certain fabricated structural steel from China and Mexico, finding that exporters from China and Mexico have dumped fabricated structural steel in the United States at margins ranging from 0.00 percent to 141.38 percent and 0.00 percent to 30.58 percent, respectively. The Department also announced a negative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of certain fabricated structural steel from Canada.

    As a result of Wednesday's decisions, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of fabricated structural steel from China and Mexico based on the preliminary rates noted above.

    In 2018, imports of fabricated structural steel from Canada, China, and Mexico were valued at an estimated $722.5 million, $897.5 million, and $622.4 million, respectively.

    The petitioner is the American Institute of Steel Construction Full Member Subgroup (Chicago, IL).

    The strict enforcement of U.S. trade law is a primary focus of the Trump Administration. Since the beginning of the current Administration, Commerce has initiated 182 new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations – a 231 percent increase from the comparable period in the previous administration.

    Antidumping and countervailing duty laws provide American businesses and workers with an internationally accepted mechanism to seek relief from the harmful effects of the unfair pricing of imports into the United States. Commerce currently maintains 492 antidumping and countervailing duty orders which provide relief to American companies and industries impacted by unfair trade.

    Commerce is scheduled to announce the final determinations in these investigations on or about January 24, 2020.

    If Commerce’s final determinations are affirmative, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will be scheduled to make its final injury determinations on or about March 9, 2020. If Commerce makes affirmative final determinations of dumping, and the ITC makes affirmative final injury determinations, Commerce will issue AD orders. If Commerce makes negative final determinations of dumping, or the ITC makes negative final determinations of injury, the investigations will be terminated and no orders will be issued.

    Click HERE for a fact sheet on today’s decisions.

    The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Enforcement and Compliance unit within the International Trade Administration is responsible for vigorously enforcing U.S. trade law and does so through an impartial, transparent process that abides by international law and is based on factual evidence provided on the record.

    Foreign companies that price their products in the U.S. market below the cost of production or below prices in their home markets are subject to antidumping duties. Companies that receive unfair subsidies from their governments, such as grants, loans, equity infusions, tax breaks, or production inputs, are subject to countervailing duties aimed at directly countering those subsidies.

    Source: Department of Commerce


  • 07/25/2019 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Jul 25th, 2019 Falcon Executive Conference Center at Yeary Library 



  • 05/21/2019 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Please join U.S. Customs and Border Protection leadership for a town hall discussion on efforts to facilitate trade in an evolving environment.
    Panelists:

    • Todd Owen – Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations
    • Brenda Smith – Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade
    • John Morris – Acting Deputy Chief Patrol Agent, Rio Grande Valley Sector, U.S. Border Patrol

    Moderator:

    • Bradley Hayes – Executive Director, Office of Trade Relations

    Details

    • Where - Laredo College; Falcon Executive Conference Room,
      1 West End Washington Street; Laredo, TX 78040
    • When - Friday, May 31, 2018
    • Time - 9:00am – 10:00am
    • Press - Open
    For questions, please email traderelations@cbp.dhs.gov
  • 05/17/2019 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    In the May 14 edition of the Federal Register, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that the next meeting of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) would be held on Thursday, May 30, in Laredo, Texas. This meeting will be open to the public for both in person and by webinar.

    The agenda for the meeting was also announced. COAC subcommittees will review, deliberate, provide observations and formulate recommendations on the following topics:

    ·         The Next Generation Facilitation Subcommittee will provide an update on the status of the Emerging Technologies Working Group's use of blockchain to address challenges faced by both the government and the trade in today's complex commercial environment. The discussion will highlight the Intellectual Property Rights Blockchain Proof of Concept Project as well as discuss other upcoming projects, including a day-long event that will solicit additional ideas for blockchain concepts that could be tested in the future. Finally, the subcommittee will provide recommendations regarding blockchain proofs of concept.

    ·         The Secure Trade Lanes Subcommittee will present a summary of the activities of the Trusted Trader Working Group including results of the May 8th and 9th face-to-face meeting with Trusted Trader Pilot participants. The subcommittee will deliver an update on the progress of the In-Bond Working Group's recommendation for the enhancement of the CBP In-bond program, the development of in-bond regulations, and enhancements to existing in-bond guidelines. The subcommittee will deliver an update on the launch of the new Export Modernization Working Group which will be developing recommendations for CBP's expansion of current export pilots, regulatory changes that will mandate the use of electronic export manifest, and the expansion of post departure filing to new participants.

    ·         The Intelligent Enforcement Subcommittee will report on the work that has been conducted by the Intellectual Property Rights, Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty, and Bond Working Groups.

    ·         The Rapid Response Subcommittee will provide an update on its collaboration with CBP on furthering the strategic approach to the 21st Century Customs Framework.

    If you would like to attend this event, you have until 5:00 p.m. on May 29 to register.

    To register for the webinar, please see here.
  • 04/05/2019 11:24 PM | Anonymous

    April 5, 2019

    Good Evening Trade Community (Laredo Field Office AOR),

    Please view the current Hours of Operation for the Ports’ Cargo Import Lots within the Laredo Field Office (Truck Environment).


    I want to reiterate that the eight Ports of Entry that extend from Del Rio to Brownsville, TX (Laredo Field Office AOR) will continue to adhere to their current normal Trade hours of operation and there are no plans at this time to reduce weekend hours. The eight Port of Entry are experiencing a shortage of available personnel due to the recent deployment to assist Border Patrol. As a result, commercial primary lanes have been reduced and have resulted in longer crossing/wait times.

    We continue to support the FAST/CTPAT Program and ensure that FAST/CTPAT lanes continue to be open. I recommend that you and your customers (importers) take advantage of the early morning hours that are normally underutilized.

    If you have any questions, reach out to the corresponding APD Trade at your location or me at 956-753-1773.

    Points of Contact at 8 ports are as follows:

    Port of Brownsville 2301 – Chris Kishore, APD  956-548-5854
    Port of Del Rio 2302 – David W. Green, APD  830-306-4360
    Port of Eagle Pass 2303 – Gilbert Sepulveda, APD 830-752-3593
    Port of Laredo 2304 – Javier Vasquez, APD  956-794-9494/9495
    Port of Pharr 2305 – Andres A. Vega, APD  956-843-5701
    Port of Rio Grande 2307 – Jorge A. Flores, APD  956-487-1663
    Port of Progreso 2309 – Enrique Moya III, APD  956-354-3653
    Port of Roma 2310 – Rogelio Olivarez, Jr, APD  956-849-1678

    Sincerely,

    Armando Taboada Jr.

    Armando Taboada Jr.
    (a)ADFO Trade
    Laredo Field Office
    956-753-1773

  • 04/03/2019 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    Good day

     At today's monthly CBP / Trade meeting we were briefed about the current status of operations at the Laredo Field Office Ports of Entry. Operations have been affected due to the re-assignment of officers to help Border Patrol with migrant processing at other ports.

    Armando Taboada – Assistant Director, Laredo Filed Office, Brad Skinner - Deputy Director, Laredo Field Office, Albert Flores - Laredo Port Director, David P. Higgerson – Director, Laredo Field Office (Laredo Field office covers 8 ports of entry from Brownsville, TX to Del Rio, TX)

    Border Delays

    Those present heard comments from:

    • David P. Higgerson – Director, Laredo Field Office
    • Brad Skinner - Deputy Director, Laredo Field Office
    • Armando Taboada – Assistant Director, Laredo Filed Office
    • Albert Flores - Laredo Port Director
    • 15-20% of their staff has been reassigned to assist Border Patrol with the immigration issue, about 750 officers.
    • Due to short staff, some of the bridge lanes are closed.
    • World Trade Bridge – out of 15 lanes, 6 are open for regular cargo and 3 for FAST.
    • Colombia Bridge – 2 regular and 1 FAST lane are open
    • World Trade Bridge – usually processes  8,000 northbound daily, they are currently processing 5,000.   3,000 trailers backed up in Mexico.
    • Colombia Bridge – usually processes 1,700 northbound daily, they are currently processing 1,000.  700 trailers backed up in Mexico.
    • Southbound shipments and northbound Fast and rail shipments are not being affected by any delays.  (in reality, if any delays they are due to the tractors sitting somewhere – shortage on drayage tractors)
    • CBP is looking into solutions, such as opening all lanes during the week and closing on weekends.  Any changes, the trade will be notified 5 days in advance. 
    • Port of Laredo has no plans to close this weekend to comercial traffic.
    • Some small ports have already started closing on weekends such as Mariposa Commercial Facility in the port of Nogales, AZ. and at Eagle Pass, TX
    • Advise your clients to take advantage of crossing as early as possible to avoid further delays
    • The average time of a truck crossing is 4 hours from when the trailer arrives at the Mexican toll booth to the CBP primary lane. That does not count the line on the Mexican side, which can be a couple of miles long. This is being measured manually by CBP at all ports.
    • CBP is working with MX Customs to stop the flow of traffic by 11:00 pm, so CBP can process all trailers that are on the bridge by midnight.
    • CBP will be putting something out in writing since MX news is reporting incorrect information.
    • Before the immigration issues, Border Patrol should of had 27,500 employees but they were at 25,000 – short staffed.  From the time an employee is hired to the time to work on the field, is 16 months.
    • Another 2,000 employees from the DHS other agencies will be moved to help Border Patrol too.
    • CBP will also be closing passenger bridge lanes which will affect the MX holidays (holy week and 5 de Mayo), expect major delays.
    • No need to port shop, all southern ports are working the same.    They are being consistent,  small ports have even less personnel.
    • All ports across the southern border are in constant communication

    Any major updates will be shared with the trade as soon as possible
  • 04/03/2019 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    Today we had a presentation from the Automotive CEE about importing vehicles

    The trade community got a process review on how to import vehicles and complying with CBP and PGA regulations

    • Assistant Center Director - Lucy Guardiola
    • Supervisor Import Specialist - Sandy M. Lopez
    • Import Specialist - Mike Cruz
    • Import Specialist - Claudia  Hernandez
    • Import Specialist - Gaby Lengyelz
    • Import Specialist - Jillian Martinez
    • Import Specialist - Jorge Garza




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