On November 7, the United States Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released a report assessing actions the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) have taken to address weaknesses in the process for collecting antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing (“CV”) duties.

The report noted the following facts:

  • For bills issued in fiscal years 2001 – 2018, CBP collected over $20 billion in uncollected AD/CV duties.
  • For bills issued over the same period, $4.5 billion in AD/CV duties remained uncollected as of May 2019.
  • Only 20 importers accounted for $1.93 billion (or 43.3 percent) of the $4.5 billion in AD/CV duties with the remaining $2.52 billion (or 56.7 percent) in uncollected duties accounted for by 1,118 importers.

The report also notes that one cause for concern at Commerce is the significantly increased workload, with a lack of corresponding increase in staff.  The report explains that from fiscal years 2012 to 2018, the total number of AD/CV duty orders enforced by Commerce has increased from 280 to 457, with the number of case analysts increasing only from 118 to 127.  Commerce has sought to address the increased workloads by implementing a variety of internal procedures and establishing a training unit.

CBP has also undertaken variety of measures to address uncollected duties.  Perhaps most interesting is CBP’s use of new statistical models to identify key risk factors associated with nonpayment.  As noted above, with only 20 importers accounting for more than 43 percent of the value of billed but uncollected duties, identifying high risk importers would appear to be a prudent step.

The report also identified the United States’ retrospective system of duty assessment as one factor contributing to complexities in duty collection faced by both agencies.  The retrospective system is widely viewed as a net positive, however, which leads to more accurate duty assessment over time.  The report concludes that while the two agencies have undertaken measures to address weaknesses in the process for collecting duties, more can be done.
Continue Reading GAO Report Reveals Deficiencies in Process for Collecting Antidumping and Countervailing Duties

The AP recently reported that North Koreans are working in China as forced labor and their products are being imported into the U.S.  The AP followed the production of seafood from Chinese facilities to U.S. retailers, but stated that there other affected product categories, including apparel and wood flooring.

While it has been known that North Korea sends workers abroad, this report is the first time the supply chain has been documented to show North Korean forced labor products entering the U.S., which is a federal crime.  It has been reported that North Korea sends tens of thousands abroad, bringing in revenue estimated at $200-$500 million per year as Kim Jong Un keeps a large percentage of the salaries.  According to the AP, the North Korean workers in China remain under constant surveillance and live in forced labor conditions.
Continue Reading Importers Beware: U.S. Customs Targets Imports Made in China by North Korean Workers

Last year, President Obama signed into law the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”).  Section 421 of the TFTEA (commonly called the Enforce and Protect Act, or EAPA), establishes procedures for submitting and investigating allegations of evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties.

The statute encouraged a wide variety of stakeholders to participate in this new administrative process.  For example, the statute defined “interested parties” who may file an allegation of evasion to include foreign exporters and producers, importers, and domestic manufacturers and wholesalers, of products covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders.  Indeed, interested parties on all sides of the trade equation who play by the rules have an incentive to participate in the CBP’s evasion investigations. 
Continue Reading Combating Evasion of Duties Front and Center