Friday, February 16, 2018

Announcement of Program for the Private Sector To Participate in Trade-Related Training of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Personnel

On February 16, 2018, U.S. Customs and Border Protection published in the Federal Register (83 FR 7064) the process to solicit, evaluate, and select interested parties in the private sector to fulfill agency needs for instruction and related instructional materials for trade-related training, pursuant to section 104 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA).

Background

On February 24, 2016, former President Barack Obama signed into law the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA), (Pub. L. 114-125, 130 Stat. 122, Feb. 24, 2016) (19 U.S.C. 4301 note). Section 104 of the TFTEA directs the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to establish and carry out, on a fiscal year basis, trade-related educational seminars to: (1) Improve the ability of personnel of CBP to classify and appraise imported merchandise; (2) improve the trade enforcement efforts of CBP and ICE personnel; and (3) otherwise improve the ability and effectiveness of CBP and ICE personnel to facilitate legitimate international trade. Interested parties in the private sector that meet the guidelines and criteria set forth in this notice and are selected by CBP or ICE may provide instruction and related instructional materials at these seminars pursuant to section 104.

Topics upon which training may be conducted include tariff classification, customs valuation, country of origin (including procedures for identifying merchandise bearing mislabeled country of origin markings), proper assessment of AD/CVD, evasion of duties on imports of textiles, border enforcement of IPR, enforcement of child labor laws, and other topics as appropriate and useful as concerns the trade-related duties and missions of CBP and ICE.

Trade-Related Training by Private Sector Parties

Interested parties desiring to conduct training under this program will be selected based on: (1) The availability of CBP and ICE personnel for such training; (2) the relevance of the training to the topics specified in section 104; (3) the usefulness of the proposed training as concerns the trade-related duties and missions of CBP and ICE; (4) any existing or future need to train CBP and ICE personnel on identifying and detecting incorrect or false country of origin with respect to imported merchandise; and (5) the expertise and experience of the proposed private sector instructors in the subject matter of the proposed training.

British Luxury Knitwear Retailer and CEO Agree to Pay $908,100 to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Concerning Improper Avoidance of Customs Duties

Portland, Maine, February 13, 2018 -- United States Attorney Halsey B. Frank announced that Pure Collection Ltd. ("Pure") and its CEO, Samantha Harrison (“Harrison”), both of Harrogate, England, have entered into civil settlement agreements with the U.S. under which they will pay a total of $908,100 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act ("FCA"). The FCA is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims involving government funds.

The settlements resolve allegations that Pure and Harrison improperly avoided U.S. customs duties owed on merchandise shipped from the United Kingdom to U.S. customers, including many customers in Maine. See United States ex rel. Patrick v. Pure Collection Ltd., 2:16-cv-00230-GZS (D. Me.). Generally, U.S. customers owed no customs duties on single shipments of merchandise into the U.S. worth less than $200 (a limit later raised to $800). The complaint alleged that Pure and Harrison improperly evaded customs duties that would have been paid by U.S. customers by breaking up single shipments worth more than those amounts into multiple shipments of lesser value in order to avoid the applicable duties.

The FCA action was originally filed by Andrew Patrick, a citizen of the United Kingdom, under the Act’s whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions that allow private individuals who have knowledge of fraud committed against the government to file lawsuits on the government's behalf. The FCA permits the government to recover up to three times the amount of damages incurred by the U.S., in addition to civil penalties for each violation. The government may also intervene and file its own lawsuit for damages and penalties, as it did in this case. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower, also known as the relator, may receive a share of the recovery. Here, the government will pay the relator, Mr. Patrick, a share of the settlement proceeds.

The government was represented by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maine, the National Courts Section of the Department of Justice, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Pure and Harrison cooperated throughout the investigation.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Media registration for NAFTA renegotiations: Round seven in Mexico

The seventh round of NAFTA renegotiations will be held in Mexico City, Mexico, from February 25 to March 5, 2018.

The Government of Mexico is leading this event and is solely responsible for the registration process. Media are invited to register as per the information below:

Members of the media must register before 11 p.m. (Mexico City time) on Thursday, February 22, 2018, at TLCAN/NAFTA (available in English or Spanish only).

This is Washington’s Birthday and I Can’t Tell a Lie

Monday is WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY, a federal and state holiday to honor the hero of the Revolutionary War, the Father of His Country, and the first President of the United States. Of the 45 men to serve as chief executive of the Union, only Washington is so singled out for honor with a federal holiday. Federal, state, and local government offices in the United States will be closed. Many businesses, especially those that routinely engage with government offices, will also be closed in observance of the day.

That many persons now call the third Monday in February "Presidents Day" is an indicator of our lack of discrimination and devaluing of true accomplishment and fame. To put it in perspective, Catholics believe that each of the 266 popes was the Vicar of Christ on Earth, infallible in matters of faith and morals, and yet fewer than 90 have been added to the calendar of Saints (and no less erudite writer than Dante placed some of the popes in Hell), but common American usage honors equally the great Washington and the least noble and least accomplished of men to hold the office by jumbling them all together on "Presidents Day," the equivalent of declaring each a "secular saint."

Slighting of Washington by calling his birthday "Presidents Day" also errs by neglecting the 29th of May, which by state law (Mass. Gen. Laws Chap. 6 Section 15VV) is our PRESIDENTS DAY, in memory of John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, former presidents from the Commonwealth.

Virginia, home of eight presidents, including Washington, beats us out in total number. But here in the Bay State we have something the Old Dominion lacks. We have in our midst the Washington Library -- About 800 books and pamphlets from George Washington's personal library at Mount Vernon given to the Boston Athenæum by a group of Bostonians in 1848. The books themselves are priceless and only serious scholars need apply for permission to use the collection. However, in 1997 the library published a catalog so the rest of us can see what sort of books the great man was reading.

Books on history and government from Washington's library include his personal copy of Common Sense, the tract by Thomas Paine that was so influential in promoting the revolutionary spirit. The General, of course, had several books on military science. Remembering that Mount Vernon was a working farm, we are not surprised to find books on agriculture and practice arts such as carpentry and horsemanship. President Washington's mind ranged beyond those necessary topics, for we also find books on religion, linguistics, and poetry.

I could lump Washington in the same group with some of the lesser men who occupied the White House -- but that would be a lie.

Video offers an edgy lens into New England's textile manufacturing industry

Check out this video showing at Slater Mill.

Rural King Recalls Electric Blankets and Throws Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

Recall Details

Description: This recall involves Rural King’s electric heated blankets and throws. The 100% polyester blankets and throws were sold in cream and brown colors and in two sizes: 50 x 60 inches (smaller than a twin size) and 84 x 90 inches (queen size). They have one or two multi-setting controllers attached to the electric cord. Model numbers starting with BLV-OB and ending in 200, 201A, 201B, 201C, 202, 202BN, 202CM, 203, 204A1, 204A2, 204A3, 204A2BR , 204A2CM, 205B1, 205B2, 205B3 or 206C1 can be found on a corner tag. Matton Rural King Supply, Inc. is printed on the back of the tag.

Remedy: Customers should immediately stop using the recalled blankets and throws and contact Rural King for a full refund.

Incidents/Injuries: Rural King has received four reports of the blankets and throws overheating. Two incidents resulted in fires and one burn injury to a consumer’s foot.

Sold At: Rural King stores nationwide and online at www.ruralking.com from October 2017 through December 2017 for between $30 and $60.

Importer(s): Rural King, of Mattoon, Ill.

Manufactured In: China

Recall number: 18-100

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tea Collection Recalls Children’s Rompers Due to Choking Hazard

Description: This recall involves two styles of children’s rompers sold in sizes 0-3 months and 18-24 months. They are Vermillion Painted OPP Floral Romper with style number 7F32500, and the Shocking Fuchsia Rose Romper with style number 7F32504. The Vermillion rompers are red with white floral print, and the Shocking Fuchsia are maroon with a pink floral print. The style number is printed on a tag sewn on the inside of the garment located in the waist area.

Remedy: Consumers should immediately take the recalled rompers away from children and contact Tea Living for a full refund.

Incidents/Injuries: The firm has received five reports of the snaps detaching from the garments. No injuries have been reported.

Sold At: Nordstrom, Von Maur and various boutique stores nationwide and online at teacollection.com from July 2017 through December 2017 for about $27.

Importer(s): Tea Living Inc, San Francisco, Calif. (d/b/a Tea Collection)

Distributor(s): Tea Living Inc, San Francisco, Calif. (d/b/a Tea Collection)

Manufactured In: Indonesia

Recall number: 18-097

More information and photos HERE