WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs & Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham told a Senate committee on Tuesday that his agency would accede to Congress and delay until 2011 a decision on raising import duties.
The move came in the aftermath of legislative moves in Congress to thwart the controversial Customs plan.
Customs proposed a rule change last year on how it values imports for the purpose of collecting duties, drawing opposition from the business community and Congress. The agency said it was considering changing its long-standing practice of determining the value of an imported finished product based on the cost of the item at the point of first sale in the supply chain — factory to wholesaler — to the higher value of a product at final import, basically the wholesale price.
The proposed rule would force U.S. importers to pay millions of dollars in additional duties on the products they make abroad and ship to the U.S.
"We are not going forward with any further action to implement this interpretative rule or otherwise change the interpretation of the 'First Sale' rule before 2011," Basham testified during a trade oversight hearing before the Senate Finance Committee.
Several apparel brands and retailers that contributed to the $96.1 billion worth of apparel and textiles imported into the U.S. in 2007 wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in February urging him to withdraw the proposal. Customs is an agency within the Homeland Security Department.
Before Customs made a final determination, Congress stepped in and passed a provision in the multibillion-dollar farm bill that directed the agency to conduct impact studies in conjunction with the U.S. International Trade Commission and forgo any action until January 2011 at the earliest.
Basham said he would follow the instructions of Congress as outlined in the farm bill.
"We're very pleased with his comments today," said Julia Hughes, senior vice president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel. "I wish he would have gone further [pledging that the proposed change would never be resurrected], but I still think he gave the right answer."
It is unclear how the new administration that takes office next January will approach the current Customs policy on valuing duties on imports.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews