Friday, August 7, 2015

Have You Heard That GSP is Back?

The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) allows for the duty-free treatment of certain goods imported directly from designated beneficiary countries for specific periods of time.


While the GSP had expired on July 29, 2015 it was renewed through December 31, 2017, with a retroactive application between August 1, 2013 and July 28, 2015.  

This means that US Customs is now accepting claims for GSP duty-free merchandise when imports are entered into the US and they are now processing refunds on duties paid, without interest, on merchandise entered during the period that the program had lapsed (i.e., between August 1, 2013 and July 28, 2015) where entries had been filed electronically. Customs is therefore, automatically liquidating, or reliquidating, eligible formal and informal entries made during this lapsed time.

Where entry had not been made electronically however, including entries made by mail, or those by travelers, requests for liquidation must be made by December 28, 2015 pursuant to the procedures set forth in US Customs website under the "GSP Refund Process."

The good news is that now entry filers can  resume filing entry summaries without the payment of estimated duties on  GSP eligible entry summaries. It's also good for those planning importations as realistic price and other projections can be made for, at least, the short term through 2017.

Questions/comments?  Feel free to post below.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Trade Promotion Authority - Pros and Cons

(authored by Hayoon Jung, my summer law clerk)



On May 22, 2015 the U.S. Congress gave President Obama expanded trade negotiation powers by passing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA, 19 U.S.C.A. § 3801-3813). The TPA shortens the time a trade agreement implementing bill stays in Congress by restricting Congressional power to amend the submitted bill. TPA requires the President to hear Congress’ opinion in the course of trade negotiations to assure the trade agreement obtains its goal.  

To maintain its Constitutional power in U.S. commerce, Congress requires the President to hear its opinion in the course of trade negotiations and delineated trade objectives, such as expanded market opportunities. Moreover, TPA restricts the implementing bill to consist only of provisions that approve the trade agreement and administrative action necessary to implement it. Also, the bill should include “only such provisions as are strictly necessary or appropriate” (italics added). Compared to the 2002 TPA, which did not contain such italicized words, this more stringent standard represents a Congressional intent to interpret the law narrowly.

The Process

In this expedited process, an implementing bill submitted by the President is automatically introduced in both houses concurrently, unlike in the regular legislative process. Then, the appropriate committee of each Chamber examines the bill. The debate is limited to 20 hours, whereas there is no limit in the regular process. Then the bill goes to the floor in each Chamber for the members to vote. Each Chamber has to either approve it fully or deny the bill without amendments. Timely floor consideration, limited debate time, and a prohibition on amendments are the three elements that allow the expedited process.

Pros and Cons

The advocates say TPA is neither giving the President a new power, nor depriving the Congress of its legislative power, because Congress still participates in drafting and implementing a bill and reserves the right to deny the bill as in the regular process (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43491.pdf)

Furthermore, the TPA will promote the U.S. economy by inducing more trade agreements. The reduced cost of re-negotiation will enable other countries to more easily enter into, and finalize trade agreements with the U.S. New agreements will lower trade barriers, thus increasing the volume of international commerce, in turn entailing a higher GDP, spurring job growth.

In contrast, opponents of the TPA express concerns about the seemingly diminished Congressional power in legislating laws (http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/08/uaw-voices-its-opposition-to-trade-promotion-authority). Likewise, they think TPA is unnecessary because both the House and the Senate are aware of the necessity of trade agreements and its reciprocity (http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/pubs/pdf/ftb56.pdf They also argue that the individual industries and the workers will be the ones bearing the cost of the lower trade barriers, because they are forced cut the cost to remain competitive in the market (AFL-CIO, http://dailycaller.com/2015/04/08/uaw-voices-its-opposition-to-trade-promotion-authority).

What do you think? Let us know by sharing your comments below!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sunset Park Brooklyn is Now Part of the Federal "Maritime Highway!"

Last week the Brooklyn South Marine Terminal (SBMT) in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was designated part of the new federal "marine highway" to foster greater local and international commerce, and to foster greater use of NYC’s local waterways.



Plans include the creation of a container carrying barge service (like that behind me in the photo above) between the Port of Elizabeth and the SBMT, to have an ability to support the nearby Red Hook container terminal, and the development of a deep water container port.

As part of the blueprint for a "sustainable city," it's believed that by moving thousands of trucks from NYC streets by floating them over from New Jersey to Brooklyn, not only will truck traffic and road repairs be reduced, but there will also be a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions by roughly 10,000 tons.

Present at the SBMT announcement were NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and numerous other city, state, and federal officials, including City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, who represents the Sunset Park and Red Hook neighborhoods, Congresswoman Nydia Vasquez and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, who also represent this local district, and Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President.

With $1.2 trillion flowing through the NYC economy each year, NYC Economic Development Corp. will be managing the development of SBMT with the dual aim to also reinvigorate job creation in the neighborhood Sunset Park.

With a maritime and manufacturing community growing here in Sunset Park, including my friends over at Manufacture New York, I am looking forward to seeing how SBMT enhances local manufacturing efforts for the better.

Questions/comments?  Post below or email me at clark.deanna@gmail.com

Keep up with me at www.fashioncompliance.com or:

On Twitter @fashcompliance

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Benefit of Fashion Law Degrees and the Predicament of their Cost


Authored by one of my talented law clerks this summer, Ms. Anna Zabotina, we're offered a fresh perspective on Fordham's new fashion law degrees from the perspective of a law student.



On Monday, June 21st Fordham Law School announced the addition of two new fashion law programs to its curriculum.  The programs promise specialized legal training for the fashion industry. The first program provides an avenue for industry professionals without legal experience to learn about what could affect their business. The second degree for attorneys presents a conundrum of whether this added education is necessary for those who want to work for a fashion client but cannot afford the luxury price tag.

In 2010 Susan Scafidi launched the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School after persuasive lobbying from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The program includes various fashion focused legal classes such as, Fashion Licensing and Fashion Retail Law, and a summer “boot-camp”. During three weeks in the summer, interested individuals are able to receive a quick rundown of what affects the industry, and attend varying networking opportunities. This 2-credit (if already attending law school) or certificate granting program runs at $3,900.00.

Nevertheless, during the launch announcement of the two new degrees on Monday, Scafidi stated that in order to have the field gain respect, students should have a degree to show for their specialized knowledge. The first program being offered to those, who already have a law degree, is a Master of Laws (L.L.M) in Fashion Law. The yearlong (full-time) or three semester long (part-time) curriculum will teach about the “four pillars” of Fashion Law in 24-27 credits. The pillars are; intellectual property, business and finance, international trade and government regulation, and consumer culture and civil rights. Additionally, the school will provide varying events and networking opportunities to the students. For more information see (http://www.fordham.edu/info/23599/fashion_law). For eligibility criteria see (http://www.fordham.edu/info/21170/apply/5169/eligibility).

The second degree is a Masters Degree for Industry Professionals (M.S.L) in Fashion Law. It is designed for individuals either already working as designers, production managers, licensing directors, human resources coordinators, and so on, or for those that aspire to work in the fashion industry. The curriculum is meant to develop a "legal literacy" for industry professionals through the four pillars of fashion law. Diane Von Furstenberg, President of CFDA and a large supporter of the program, has said that she “firmly believes this program will become a powerful tool in the fashion world and beyond, and help us all as an industry – lawyers or not – better understand, grow and protect our businesses.” Scafidi added that if nothing else, this program will teach the fashion industry when to acquire professional legal help. For more information on classes and how to apply visit (http://www.fordham.edu/info/23328/msl_in_fashion_law).

Overall, the degrees are meant to safeguard an industry that has had an increase in litigation over the last decade, as evidenced by several high profile lawsuits such as the "Christian Louboutin Red-Sole" lawsuit [Christian Louboutin S.A. v. Yves Saint Laurent Am. Holding, Inc.,], and the "Marc Jacobs Three-Stripe" lawsuit [Adidas America Inc. et al. v. Marc Jacobs International LLC]. According to the founders, since every single aspect of a fashion business has a legal component (coming up with a brand name, leasing real estate for sale, hiring employees, etc.) it is extremely beneficial to have individuals with a specialty in the field that can zero in on specific needs of a client and prevent disputes.

It should be noted, however that fashion law is not a new law field, per se.  Fashion law is made up of a combination of intellectual property, real estate, business, financial, employment, contract law, international trade, product and fashion compliance, and marketing law. The majority of these fields have been taught at most law schools for decades.

As a law student who is interested in working for a fashion business, I am drawn toward the idea of classes focused on the industry. Also, the M.S.L. program provides the type of education  that someone in the industry without prior legal background could definitely benefit from. Still, I wonder if it is possible to succeed as someone who has had a legal education and finds the idea of adding to student debt daunting.

The tuition for the L.L.M program is $53,440.00 a year, and for the M.S.L. program it is $40,080. These price tags are suited for luxury goods.

For those that cannot afford to attend the program, taking classes similar to those offered at the L.L.M program during law school could be an alternative. Although all of the required courses have not been posted yet, they can be found in the future at (http://www.fordham.edu/info/23599/fashion_law). The degrees offer varying networking events which are essential to any legal career. Nevertheless, in the past it was possible to attend events at the Fashion Insitute without being a student there, through a separate registration for a minimal fee. For Fashion Institute's events check out (http://fashionlawinstitute.com/institute-events/the-power-of-fashion). Hence, it could be possible to design your own "fashion law" curriculum where attending the LLM program is not feasible.



While the combination of classes in varying law fields, and industry insight might make individuals that acquire these degrees desirable to employers and clients.  The inability to attend the program does not squander one's chances of working for a fashion business, as long as steps are taken to learn and master the different fields of law that make-up "fashion law."  

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

AGOA Matters!


Today I joined a conference call with White House Senior Administration officials to talk about the President’s trade agenda in relation to the African Growth and opportunity Act (AGOA).



Notably, the renewed AGOA agreement is different from prior AGOA renewals in at least 3 ways.

The first is that the length of the extension of the AGOA agreement will be for 10 years.

The second is that “Third Country Fabric Provision” will be extended the same length as the renewed AGOA, so we no longer have to worry about this provision expiring before the AGOA extension itself.

The third is that a value on African labor, as opposed to just materials themselves, will now be considered.

The Brookings Institution put out a great analysis on the state of the AGOA, which can be viewed here.

Questions/comments? Post below or email me at clark.deanna@gmail.com

Keep up with me at www.fashioncompliance.com or:
On Twitter @fashcompliance

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ever Wonder Just How Much is Being Imported into the U.S. From China?


Now you can see for yourself what those figures look like in relation to textile and apparel imports thanks to the U.S. International Trade Commission’s latest release which compiles such 2014 data in to a single handy document.


The annual report contains a compilation of the statistical reports published every two weeks by the Commission on the volume, value, unit value, and import market share of imports from China that were subject to the provisions of the 2005 U.S.-China Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Trade in Textiles and Apparel (MOU).  This compilation includes official import data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, and shows data at the 3-digit textile/apparel category level and by the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 10-digit subheadings in these categories.

Want to read through it for yourself?  The Textile and Apparel Imports from China: Statistical Reports, Annual Compilation 2014 (Inv. No. 332-501, USITC publication 4535, May 2015) is available on the USITC's Internet site at http://www.usitc.gov/publications/332/pub4535.pdf.

Questions/comments?  Post below or email me at clark.deanna@gmail.com

Keep up with me at www.fashioncompliance.com or:
On Twitter @fashcompliance

Thursday, May 7, 2015

AVVO Talk: How to Avoid Design Patent Issues When Importing Home Decoration Items?

Question Continued: Can you get sued over design patent issues if you import similar items like examples below? 

For examples, 

http://www.amazon.com/Copper-Rotating-Earring-O... 
http://www.amazon.com/Rotating-Earrings-Organiz...


Avvo - Rate your Lawyer. Get Free Legal Advice.
Deanna's Response:

Hello, If you don't have permission from the patent holder, and there is one, then you would absolutely be at risk of an accusation of such unlawful act - by US Customs first and foremost. 

US Customs has its own seizure process on imported goods, so before you even get to an issue with the patent holder as some of the attorneys below have discussed, you need to know that US Customs can seize the goods themselves so you'll never get them. Once the seizure has occurred, then the penalty phase begins and depending on your level of "culpability" (i.e., guilt level - be it negligence, fraud, first time offender, etc.), the penalty amounts can vary but it's never cheap. And yes, because the patent holder would be notified, they too may commence a lawsuit against you as well.