Archive for the ‘Free Trade Agreements’ Category


 

Will CPTPP Impact NAFTA Negotiations?

North America

Prior to the latest NAFTA negotiations, Canada entered into the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). In this blog, we look at how this may impact the next round of NAFTA negotiations in late February, early March.

Before the January NAFTA Negotiations

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership

Canada and Mexico has agreed to the new CPTPP. An international trade agreement between 11 countries the U.S. previously withdrew from on January 23rd, 2017.

With the U.S. adopting a bilateral trade agreement philosophy, while Canada and Mexico have joined the multilateral CPTPP agreement. How will this impact the NAFTA negotiations going forward?

 

New U.S. Duties on Solar-Panels and Washing Machines

Also, the U.S. recently introduced new import duties on solar-panels and washing machines. Solar-panel duties have increased by 30%, while washing machines duties have increased by 50%. The new duty on solar-panels will have a minor impact on Canada and Mexico. The new washing machine duty will only impact Mexico.

 

January’s NAFTA Negotiations: Round Six

Tuesday, January 23rd, Canadian, American and Mexican representatives met in Montreal for the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations. Let us focus on the four main focal points surrounding the latest NAFTA negotiations. Chapter 19, the auto parts industry, the dairy industry and the sunset clause.

Chapter 19: Trade Disputes

The U.S. is looking to eliminate Chapter 19 in the NAFTA negotiations. Currently, Chapter 19 allows for trade disputes between two NAFTA countries to go through an independent third party arbitrator. This prevents Canada and Mexico from having to enter into the U.S. legal review process for anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the U.S. government.

Previous Chapter 19 rulings have favored Canada. Most recently Boeing made a bid to increase import duties by 300% on Bombardier’s CSeries. An independent third party arbitrator, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), voted 4-0 to reject the 300% duty because it did not have a negative impact on the U.S. aircraft industry.

The Auto Parts Industry

With the new CPTPP in place, the NAFTA negotiations are going to feel some extra pressure in the auto parts industry. At the moment, NAFTA allows for 37.5% of a cars parts to come from outside of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. However, in the new CPTPP agreement, the percentage of allowable foreign composition is 55%. This difference will create a more competitive market for auto parts in Canada and Mexico, while at the same time acting as a disadvantage for Canadian and Mexican companies creating auto parts.

The U.S. is aiming to decrease the percentage of car parts that come from outside of North America to 15%. Translating to more job opportunities for Americans in the auto industry.

Canadians are trying to introduce a line of thinking that auto industry software and other high-tech equipment should be taken into consideration when talking about the net cost of auto parts since a higher percentage of software and high-tech equipment is created and produced in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Thus adding to the auto parts percentages.

The Dairy Industry

The CPTPP agreement has also opened up the dairy debate as well. Since there has been a small opening to Canada’s originally closed market, the U.S. wants greater access to Canadian consumers. Currently, if a U.S. dairy farmer was to export milk to Canada, they would face a 270% duty. Eliminating dairy trade barriers would be beneficial to Canadian consumers, but would deal a great blow to Canadian dairy farmers who presently enjoy the benefits of the ongoing trade barrier.

The Sunset Clause

The U.S. also wants to implement a sunset clause. A sunset clause would allow any of the three NAFTA countries to walk away from the proposed agreement after five years. If the sunset clause was to be implemented it would almost certainly mean the end of the current NAFTA agreement in five years, since it would be unlikely for all three countries to be happy with the state of the agreement in five years.

 

NAFTA Negotiations and Trade

Despite all of the uncertainty with NAFTA, trade between the three countries has remained steady and consistent. Everyday airplanes, trains, cargo ships, and trucks transport essentially everything you use daily. If you would like to explore international trade opportunities, give us a call. We can provide you assistance with customs clearance, freight forwarding, trade education and trade advisory services.

 

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How NAFTA Negotiations Affect You

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do the NAFTA Negotiations Really Affect You?

If you are engaging in cross-border trade and investment you need to stay informed on the recent news in NAFTA negotiations and other trade agreements with Canada;

  • Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

This week marks the start of the 5th round of NAFTA talks in which Mexico, the U.S. and Canada hope to make considerable progress on the NAFTA text.

For the past 23 years, NAFTA has tied together North America’s economy through predictability, openness, and collaboration.  The creation of NAFTA in 1994 marked the largest free trade agreement in the world. NAFTA removed previous barriers to encourage the flow of goods and labor between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

U.S.’s NAFTA Priorities

In 2017 the U.S. is prioritizing employment for American citizens. Along with the renegotiation of NAFTA, the U.S. government withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. This would have seen 12 of the top economic countries eliminate trade barriers to encourage international trade. The U.S. ultimately decided to withdraw from the TPP to prioritize protecting American jobs.

With the latest rounds of negotiations, the U.S. released a series of what Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, considered “unconventional proposals” challenging the 23 years of predictability and collaboration. The two main concerns, specifically highlighted by Freeland are:

  • The auto industry’s supply chain management system
  • The currently enforced dispute-resolution system (Chapter 19)

The U.S. auto-industry has stated that cars containing less than 50 percent U.S. auto parts should be subject to a tariff since this will encourage Americans to buy and sell cars locally. This is a problem for Canada and Mexico because it will affect current supply chains leading to an international disadvantage, as well as a loss of jobs for Canadians and Mexicans.

For the currently enforced dispute-resolution system the U.S. wants to ensure enforcements on disputes are non-binding or voluntary, therefore, eliminating the importance of any future rulings.

The U.S. has been aggressive in the negotiations because they are less dependent on NAFTA than Canada and Mexico. If NAFTA were to fall apart for all three countries, Canadians and Mexicans would lose a substantial amount of jobs and opportunities. However, Canada has leverage as the current largest export market for the U.S. The two nations also have the previously established Canada – U.S. Trade Agreement. Although the agreement is outdated, it does provide a fallback for ongoing trade.

Canada’s NAFTA Priorities

Canada’s priority in the negotiations is to stop the U.S. from implementing tariffs on goods that were previously being traded freely. While the U.S. has prioritized the removal of Chapter 10, which allows foreign access to Government procurement, Canada intends to safeguard it.

Furthermore, Canada is also looking elsewhere to strengthen trade ties. CETA was introduced on September 21st, 2017 and will reduce and in some cases possibly eliminate tariffs between Canada and Europe. These changes will open up new opportunities for Canadians and Canadian business. In November of 2017, Canada and the 11 remaining signatories of the TPP reached an agreement to move forward with the free trade deal.

Mexico’s NAFTA Priorities

Mexico’s priorities in the negotiations are similar to Canada. They want to prevent the United States from placing tariffs on products that are currently being traded freely. The United States imports approximately 80 percent of all Mexican exports. Mexico is the second largest export market for the U.S. As a result, any further complications would encourage Mexico to strengthen its trade relations with other countries.

How NAFTA Affects You?

Changes in trade can be extremely disruptive to your business and investments. Whether NAFTA folds or is successfully re-negotiated is still to be determined. However, one thing is certain, international traders who utilize this trade agreement can expect to see a change in how they trade after a decision on NAFTA is reached.

 

Pacific Customs Brokers is always here to help you stay informed with NAFTA and the ongoing negotiations between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

 


Interested in learning more about what Free Trade Agreements your goods might fall under? Leave me a comment below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is CETA?

CETA Agreement

CETA is the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (EU).  It is the 14th trade agreement that Canada has entered into. CETA received Royal Assent on May 16, 2017, and has been provisionally applied on September 21, 2017.

 

The European Union is (currently) comprised of 28 countries:

  •  Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

This agreement will allow Canadian importers and exporters improved access to these markets through reduced or eliminated duties.

 

This agreement intends to break down trade barriers between the signatory nations and create both jobs and economic growth through new opportunities for importers and exporters.  Since the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union is now in force, it will provide sweeping tariff reductions for almost all sectors of industry immediately.  Approximately 99% of products will be eligible for reduced duty rates immediately, and after 7 years all customs duties on industrial goods will be eliminated.   

 

With that in mind, CETA does have provisions for Canada and the EU to protect certain commodities from duty reduction or elimination, such as chicken and turkey imports into Canada and beef into the EU.   

 

For items to take advantage of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union preferential treatment, the commercial invoice or another commercial document must identify the originating product(s) in the shipment and  include the statement for originating goods such as the below:

 

(Period: from___________ to __________)

The exporter of the products covered by this document (customs authorization No …) declares that, except where otherwise clearly indicated, these products are of Canada/EU preferential origin.

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

(Place and date)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

(Signature and printed name of the exporter)

 

The “Period from ___ to ___”  field can be left blank, or if it is completed, it cannot be for a period of greater than one year.  It is important to note that although a blanket period may be indicated, the origin statement must still accompany each shipment. The “customs authorization No” is only to be completed by approved EU exporters, otherwise, it can be omitted or left blank.

If the product being exported from the EU contains non-originating materials the supplier should also provide the following statement:

 

I, the undersigned, supplier of the goods covered by the annexed document, declare that:

The following materials which do not originate in the European Union/in Canada (1) have been used in the European Union/in Canada to produce the following supplied non-originating products.

Any other materials used in the European Union/in Canada to produce these products originate there.

 

I undertake to make available any further supporting documents required.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(Place and Date)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(Name and position, name and address of company)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

(Signature)

 

Unlike NAFTA, there is no CETA certificate of Origin, and therefore a certificate is not required for imports into Canada to utilized the CETA tariff treatment.

 

The products must also meet the origin and transshipment requirements applicable to them.  For the most part, this means the items, must be shipped directly from any EU Country or remain in customs control when in transit through a third country.

 

Already Canadian cheese importers can apply for tariff rate quota from Global Affairs Canada to enjoy reduced duty rates upon enforcement (without quota, cheese from the EU, as with other countries, will be subject to prohibitively high duty).  

 

The text of the agreement can be found on Canada Border Services Agency’s website here.

 

Are you an importer who is interested in Importing EU goods or already do so and want to know if your items will qualify for reduced duty under CETA?  Ask us a question below, and I will be happy to answer.

 

 

 

5 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Importing into the U.S.

Image: 5 Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Importing into the U.S.

In 2010, during one of our first U.S. Customs Compliance seminars, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) identified the 5 most common mistakes to avoid when importing into the U.S., and interestingly enough, these are STILL the most common mistakes today.

Whether you are a U.S. manufacturer sourcing from China, purchasing completed goods for immediate sale, or acting as the non-resident importer (NRI) into the U.S., understanding these common mistakes and how to avoid them could save you a lot of time and money.

Mistake #1: Not Determining Your Customs Tariff Codes Correctly

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule determines the correct duty rate for your imported products. It is the foundation for your import compliance. Using the wrong code can mean you are underpaying or overpaying customs duties and taxes.

There are many ways to determine your customs tariff codes, some more reliable than others:

Regardless of your method of determination, treat tariff classification like you would a medical condition. Rather than relying on a self-diagnosis obtained from the internet, some things are best left to the trained professionals!

Mistake #2: Misunderstanding Rules of Origin

There are standard rules of origin for all goods. When importing goods into a nation with which the U.S. has a trade agreement, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), they may be eligible for reduced or eliminated duty. Something to note, however, the use of an FTA may result in additional rules of origin to qualify for preferential treatment.

NAFTA certificates list the originating nation of the goods and act as proof of the claim. You, as the importer of record (IOR), are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the NAFTA certificate.

Ensure you are filling out NAFTA certificates correctly by taking our Free Trade Agreements and Rules of Origin seminar or NAFTA for Beginners webinar series.

Mistake #3: Incorrect and Incomplete Country of Origin Marking

Legibly and permanently mark you imported goods with their country of origin. The country of origin may not be the same as country of purchase. Reference the U.S. Customs Regulation (19 CFR 134) to ensure compliance regarding markings and “J” list exemptions.

Pay close attention when reusing boxes. All previous markings must be eliminated to ensure that the correct country of origin markings are the only ones visible.

Mistake #4: Misunderstanding U.S. Customs Valuation

Delare the proper value of the imported goods to customs. Ensure you also calculate any deductions or additions. Support these adjustments with proper documentation at the time of entry.

Determine your goods value by attending our Customs Valuation seminar or commissioning our Trade Advisors.

Mistake #5: Using a U.S. Goods Returned Declaration for Non-American Goods

If you are importing goods back into the U.S., you can declare them as U.S. Goods Returned (USGR) to eliminate the duty… unless it turns out that they are not U.S. goods!

Declaration of Free Entry of Returned American Products requires you to provide appropriate documentation that goods were manufactured in the U.S. Maintaining a close relationship with your U.S. vendors may be helpful when it comes time to request an affidavit of manufacture to avoid paying duties on U.S.-made goods.

Final Suggestions by CBP

  1. If you are in doubt of whether or not your good is NAFTA eligible, do not claim it as such, and ensure that your customs broker does the same.
  2. If, after the fact, you find that you have made a mistake or a ‘false statement,’ notify CBP as soon as possible to ensure that you do not get penalized.
  3. Talk to your customs broker about the steps needed to disclose the scope of a discovered discrepancy. Some discrepancies can be corrected very quickly while others require more effort.

CBP does not want to be an impediment to doing business with the U.S. Avoid these 5 most common mistakes when importing into the U.S. and enjoy import success.

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The Cost of Customs Compliance Part 2 | Not as Expensive as One Might Think

Image: The Cost of Customs Compliance Part 2 | Not as Expensive as One Might Think

Carrying on from last week’s Part 1 article, a customs compliance penalty often brings into question whether the customs broker can be held accountable if the importer is found to have errors in their import declarations. Since customs holds the importer of record (IOR) ultimately responsible for customs compliance, it is rare that an importer can shift the blame to their service providers or vendors who offered incorrect advice, submitted the declaration with erroneous information or lacked the expertise to catch potential problems with an imported item. Therefore, it is important to ensure your service provider evaluation includes the following:

  1. Does the customs broker have a process in place to review customs declarations for incomplete or inaccurate documentation prior to submission to customs?
  2. Does the customs broker offer Trade Advisory Services which can help with binding ruling applications on unclear product classifications or on new product purchases to determine any additional duties required and/or reporting requirements to other government departments?
  3. Does the customs broker clear all modes of transportation including courier shipments therefore ensuring consistency in both process and tariff classification?
  4. What is the level of certification, education and experience of the entry staff who are reviewing and submitting declarations on your behalf?
  5. Is your customs broker open during your hours of operation? If so, will they have an experienced representative available to answer questions about your specific account?

If your company’s supply chain requires the use of multiple customs brokers, we advise you to look into the following possible areas of inconsistencies.

Multiple Customs Brokers = Multiple Inconsistencies

We previously published an article on the Downside of Using Multiple Customs Brokers in which we highlighted two things to look out for when using multiple customs brokers.

Inconsistency between your chosen customs brokers:
Customs Broker ‘A’, who clears your incoming air shipments, may use a slightly different tariff classification code for your imported item than Customs Broker ‘B’ who clears the same item via highway transport. During our trade compliance seminars we often tell the tale of the outcome of three customs brokers classifying the same item and each coming up with their own justifiable explanation for their classification. This is a result of a highly complex harmonized system tariff schedule, the different experiences each of those brokers have had in their classification practice, as well as their understanding and application of the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI) as they relate to the item.

Difference in business process:
Not all customs brokers are created equal. Each has its own area of expertise and therefore business process. A courier company who offers customs brokerage as an added service has a priority to ensure speed and accuracy with the parcel delivery. A compliance broker, like us, Pacific Customs Brokers, specializes in ensuring their clients trading practices fall within Customs law. Our process differs in the the attention given to detail.

Review Your Entries to Mitigate Risk

As you can see from the areas of concern we have addressed in this article, and despite best efforts, an importer may be completely unaware of their shortfall in customs compliance. One way to review your customs broker’s accuracy is to review the declaration summary provided with the invoice against the following checklist:

  1. Has your vendor provided a full and accurate description of goods for classification purposes?
  2. Is the value declared on your vendor’s invoice correct and will it match your reconciliation to the vendor?
  3. Will you be receiving any additional invoices for value added costs such as royalties or commissions?
  4. Have all applicable discounts been declared and taken where applicable?
  5. Has the country of manufacture been declared correctly for all items on the invoice?
  6. Were all the items listed on the invoice received? Were there shortages or overages?
  7. Do you have properly completed certificates on hand for all items declared under a preferential tariff treatment, including North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Certificates of Origin?
  8. Has the Goods and Services Tax (GST) been correctly accounted for on all items?

 

We encourage you to reach out to our Trade Advisory team with any questions you may have regarding your customs compliance practices at [email protected]. We are here to help!