TWO HONG KONG FIRMS JOIN U.S. LIST OF TRADE VIOLATORS

Byline: Jennifer Owens

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs has added two names to its semiannual transshippers list, which this time spotlights 16 foreign companies found to be violating trade laws.
The list is issued as an advisory to importers. Importers who are found dealing in transshipped merchandise from a listed firm stand a greater chance of being found negligent themselves. If found negligent, an importer can be subject to heavy penalties and seizure of goods.
The list, released last week in the Federal Register, adds Cupid Fashion Manufacturing Ltd., of Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong and Sun Weaving Mill Ltd. of Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Among firms whose names remain on the list are four other Hong Kong firms — Bestraight Ltd., Hanin Garment Factory, Hip Hing Thread Co. and Topstyle Ltd. — and three Chinese companies — Li Xing Garment Co., Meiya Garment Manufacturers Ltd. and Yunnan Provincial Textiles Import & Export.
Three Indian companies are also listed — Cotton Breeze International, Poshak International and United Fashions — and two Taiwan companies — Hyattex Industrial Co. and Jentex Industrial. Rounding out the list are Azmat Bangladesh of Bangladesh and Meigao Jamaica Co. Ltd. of Jamaica.
Customs also has updated its list of foreign companies it suspects are transshipping, but has been unable to confirm. For its new suspect list, Customs has removed seven companies and added six, including three from Hong Kong and one each from Turkey, China and Mongolia. The list now contains 39 firms.
What the list doesn’t include, however, are the names of 45 companies based in Macau and Hong Kong that were found by their home governments earlier this year to be transshipping textiles and apparel. This information is considered public record in Hong Kong and Macau, but was released by Customs only last month as part of an ongoing campaign to fight transshipping.
The Macau and Hong Kong companies will be added to the U.S. list as Customs sends each a pre-penalty notice.
“We are continually updating the list,” said Janet Labuda, a manager in Customs’ Office of Strategic Trade. Labuda added, though, that due process may keep the Macau and Hong Kong company names from appearing on the U.S. list for a year.
Laura Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said the two lists — and rumors of more transshippers from other countries — have annoyed importers.
“Which is the real list? Which list do you watch?” she asked. “Technically, under informed compliance, all of this has equal weight…so I would tell people to watch all these lists.”
Labuda said importers should look at both lists, as well as others that may come as Customs works to globalize its system. “Most definitely,” she said.
The firms on the Customs list — created under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 and known as 592A — either have used or provided false documentation of country of origin, used counterfeit visas, manufactured goods that are falsely labeled or engaged or aided in transshipping. Once on the list, companies remain for three years, although they can petition for removal.
Importers have long wanted the U.S. list to designate which infraction was charged to which company — a request not fulfilled with the current 592A list. Jones said her members are pleased, however, with a new addition — the date each company first appeared on the list.
“Now they’re telling us the dates, so we can see how fresh the information is. They’re making some progress,” she said. “But the whole thing is that they need to get everything in one place at one time.”

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