WASHINGTON -- In its drive to combat transshipments, U.S. Customs wants to extend to 180 days the time it has to recall suspect textile and apparel shipments, and importers are furious.
"They know full well that people don't keep goods 180 days," said Laura Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel. "That means in six months they can ask for a sample or the whole shipment to be returned. It's outrageous."
Under current regulations, Customs has 30 days after a shipment has entered the country to ask the importer to "redeliver" to a Customs office goods it suspects has been transshipped. Such suspicions can arise during post-entry paperwork.
If an importer is unable to redeliver the goods, he or she is liable for "liquidated damages" -- the cost of the shipment plus its duty.
The proposed change is due to be published today in the Federal Register, with requests for public comment within 60 days.
A Customs official said the agency in most cases can't get information fast enough to do necessary investigations in 30 days. Under current rules, no penalty can be levied if a redelivery notice is not received by the importer within 30 days of getting the imports.
Jones and others in the import community accused Customs of acting out of political motives -- to mollify the domestic textile industry.
"They are singling us [textile and apparel importers] out as a group," she said. "It's harassment of the industry." Larry Martin, director of government relations for the American Apparel Manufacturers Association, said his group was not involved in the drafting of the rules and would not comment until he has read them.
Clinton Stack, president of International Development Systems Inc., a group that tracks textile trade, criticized Customs for not being able to get through its paperwork more quickly.
"Customs has everything computerized; it should be more efficient at spotting those eligible for a redelivery notice," he said.
The rule notes that the liquidated damages "are designed to be compensatory rather than punitive."
Jones already has sent a letter to Customs Commissioner George Weise, criticizing him for not seeking comment from importers before publishing the proposals. Her organization plans to file official comments to the proposal "and we'll try and get it changed."Two other Customs Service rules are expected to be published today. The first, which also calls for public comment, will require an importer who does not prepare a shipment's entry documents to submit a statement declaring that "he has used reasonable care to ascertain the true country of origin of the imported merchandise and to verify the accuracy" of the documents.
Importers said the requirement is too vague because it gives no concrete guidelines or examples of steps an importer can take to satisfy the "reasonable care" standard.
The rule states that an importer "should not be allowed to submit a declaration to Customs on blind faith as to its accuracy, and without running the risk of incurring a penalty for doing so, merely for the reason that the declaration was prepared by another party....On the other hand, Customs also recognizes that where a...declaration is prepared by a manufacturer, producer or exporter, the importer may not always be privy to the facts necessary to verify with absolute certainty."
Customs officials explained an example of exercising reasonable care would be if the importer asked to see a certificate of origin from the foreign supplier. The agency will likely make the rule more specific if comments convincingly complain it is too vague.
The third rule, which goes into effect Friday, adds transshipping to the Service's list of "aggravating factors" used to determine penalties for import violations. Each aggravating factor -- another example is obstructing a customs investigation -- is used to offset one "mitigating factor," such as inexperience on the part of the importer, when determining the final penalty.
John Pellegrini, a lawyer with Ross & Hardies and counsel to USAITA, said this rule would have little if any real effect because "as a practical matter transshipment cases already are treated more harshly than others."
This rule goes into effect without waiting for public comments because it merely is being added to the agency's policy guidelines; it does not have the status of a regulation.
@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