The International Trade Group has a nationwide and global Customs practice, led by lawyers in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., including a number of lawyers formerly at U.S. Customs headquarters. The Firm’s Customs specialists regularly handle Customs audits and focused assessments in industries as diverse as automotive, electronics, semiconductors, aerospace, building materials and consumer products. They represent clients regularly in connection with Customs seizures, Customs enforcement of import relief measures, issues of classification and valuation, the CTPAT program, NAFTA rules, country of origin marking and clearance of imports. The team also defends against Customs actions in the Court of International Trade and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
The International Trade Group also provides Customs advisory services through offices in Asia.
Bryan Cave’s International Trade Group provides the following Customs services:
- Customs Compliance: Bryan Cave assists companies in designing Customs import processes that match their compliance and business needs. We draft importer standard operating procedures (SOPs), analyze U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import data to determine a company’s importing patterns and risk areas, train key company personnel on import compliance and advise companies on how to integrate recommended compliance measures into their business practices.
- Customs Counseling: The daily business of importing often results in legal issues that require immediate attention by outside Customs counsel. Bryan Cave routinely advises clients on the following topics that directly affect importers:
- Tariff classifications: All products imported into the customs territory of a country, including the United States and the various European nations, are subject to customs duties depending on how they are classified within the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (“HTS”) in effect at the time of importation. The HTS is an international tariff nomenclature system used by over 150 countries that contains thousands of descriptions of merchandise. The tariff classification of an article is the six to ten digit number that corresponds to each textual description. Although the tariff language of the HTS is uniform worldwide up to the first six digits, duty rates vary by country and a country has the option of adding additional tariff language differentiating articles at the eight to ten digit level. Bryan Cave routinely reviews the tariff classifications of multinational companies to ensure that their merchandise is classified correctly and the duty rates reported at customs entry for imported goods are correct.;
- Valuation: The amount of duty an importer pays to its customs authorities on an imported product is calculated by multiplying the applicable duty rate by the customs value of the product. In the United States, Europe and many other regions, customs valuation is based on the international valuation agreement adopted by the WTO. Transaction value − the price paid or payable for imported merchandise − is the primary methodology for valuing imported merchandise; importers must ensure that all elements of transaction value are reported to the customs authorities. Bryan Cave and its team of customs professionals assist companies in reviewing their import and financial records to ensure that all dutiable elements of value are identified and reported to the appropriate customs authorities, including dutiable assists (engineering, research and development, tools, dies, molds, etc.), royalties and licensing fees, and additional payments made to overseas manufacturers. In cases where an importer is related to the overseas seller of the imported goods, a review of the transfer price applicable to imported goods might be required to ensure that it satisfies the various tax and customs authorities requirements. Bryan Cave regularly reviews multinational companies' transfer pricing policies and advises them on their acceptability for both direct and indirect tax purposes.;
- Country of origin and marking requirements: Many industrialized nations, including the United States and certain European countries, require that at the time of importation, every article of foreign origin or its container must be marked with its country of origin. The purpose of these marking requirements is to disclose to the ultimate purchaser in the importing country the foreign origin of the imported article. The failure to mark imported merchandise properly may result in significant monetary penalties and the exclusion of goods from entry into the importing country. Bryan Cave advises clients on the acceptability of a product's marking for import purposes. In addition, the Firm often is involved during the product development stage to advise clients on the country of origin of a product for marking and other purposes based on the origin of its component parts and the country in which the product will be manufactured.;
- Entry requirements;
- Penalty actions;
- Enforcement of import relief measures;
- Foreign Trade Zones;
- Drawback; and
- Duty preference programs such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the Common Effective Preferential Tariffs (CEPT) Scheme for ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and free trade agreements (FTAs), among others.
The capabilities we offer on these topics enable clients to realize significant savings in duties while, at the same time, maintaining their compliance with the Customs laws and regulations.
In the United States, when importers must appear before CBP or other U.S. government agencies in connection with their import activities, we represent them in obtaining rulings from CBP Headquarters and litigating in the Court of International Trade, Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and other appropriate venues when an administrative result is not satisfactory.
When clients have required a solution to a specific import issue that is not available at the national administrative or judicial level, Bryan Cave lawyers have drafted trade legislation for clients and successfully secured the introduction and passage of the bills in the U.S. Congress. We have also assisted global companies in obtaining advantageous resolutions at the World Customs Organization and similar multilateral bodies when they have found themselves adversely affected by Customs rules that are the subject of bilateral or multilateral trade disputes.