12. What are the limitations on importing goods into the United States for sale?
Below are the primary laws governing the importation of commercial goods.
• The Customs Modernization Act (CMA) – The CMA, a part of NAFTA, requires importers to declare attributes of imported goods with the Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP). Typically, when goods are shipped into the US, the importer (or her agent) must complete documents disclosing the nature, value, origin, and other information about the goods. The CBP will inspect the goods and charge estimated duties on the value of the goods. The inspection generally seeks to ascertain the value of the goods, that the markings and labeling are accurate, that there are no prohibited items, and that the goods are correctly documented. The CBP may also assess additional duties on goods imported for sale at abnormally low prices. This is known as “anti-dumping” and “countervailing duties”. The purpose of this authority is to protect markets from the effect of selling products at a loss or at a lower price than in the foreign market simply to reduce inventory or push other merchants out of business. Importers can appeal or request administrative review of the assessed duties. Goods subject to countervailing duties must demonstrate that the pricing practice does not hurt a consumer market.
• The Trademark Act of 1946 (Trademark Act) – The Trademark Act prohibits the importation of products that mislead the public as to the point or origin, manufacturer, or brand. This includes importing items under a protected trademark that does not belong to the importer or purchaser of imported goods. Any such goods are subject to forfeiture or may be released to the importer upon adequate assurance of removing the deceptive markings or destroying the items.
• Regulations of Various Products – The US places restrictions on the importation of specific types of products. These products may require permits, licenses, inspections, labeling, etc. Restrictions for failure to meet specific requirements may include prohibitions on sale, limited ports of entry, restricted routing, storage, use, etc. The purpose of these restrictions is to protect the US economy and the health and well being of US citizens.
• Discussion: Why do you think the government takes an interest in regulating the importation of goods? What are the primary interests? Do you think charging the Customs and Border Protection Agency with regulating imports is adequate to achieve these objectives?
• Practice Question: Arnold is going to import goods into the United States. What information is required to provide to the government before the goods may enter?