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Shippers across the globe are sure to be confronted with new disruptions when navigating international markets–regardless of the shipping method put into place. Gone are the days when minimal compliance efforts are overlooked or passed off as acceptable. In the modern trade arena, compliance and accuracy are everything.

Tack on the pandemic, an ongoing trade war and what seems like a constantly shifting trade landscape, and compliance efforts can seem downright daunting and costly–especially to and from the U.S., according to Ben Bidwell, director of North America Customs and Compliance at C.H. Robinson.

“Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty once said, ‘If you think compliance is expensive, you should try non-compliance.’ When shippers make mistakes, it can become costly and not just in terms of freight delays, but it can lead to seizure of goods and even jail time for those who are involved,” explains Bidwell. 

The C.H. Robinson executive shares that not only do shippers have to be more careful now than ever when trading across borders, but simply understanding the evergreen trade landscape and various barriers is a critical part of successful operations.

“Challenges in today’s trade market include Section 301, punitive tariffs, forced labor concerns and more,” Bidwell says. “But shippers cannot afford to forget about basics such as the U.S. Customs List of Trade Priority Issues, for example. Customs has certainly not lost sight of that list, and the importing community can’t afford to lose sight of it either.”

Different challenges require unique, strategic approaches in management. The constant shifting of these challenges depends primarily on the country in question, the products being shipped and local customs regulations. This is where automation, advanced technology and access to critical information can serve as significant game-changers for your customers and operations.

Trade & Tariffs Insights, a page on the C.H. Robinson website, “brings the latest challenges, changes and more wrapped together for importers and exporters to utilize and understand,” Bidwell says. “This resource helps shippers get the information they need–not only to remain compliant but to also keep them updated on the latest changes and potential changes that could impact their business.”

Staying informed with rock solid information is becoming ever more important, Bidwell notes.

“Visibility, access to your data and data analytics are critical in running a compliant and successful supply chain,” he says. “It equals not only results in compliance, but also duty savings, duty mitigation opportunities and overall awareness.”

C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere platform does exactly that. The data analysis tools (Carrier, Insight and Vision) capture key elements in the importing and exporting process while providing a clear path of data-backed insights and next-step actions. Navisphere leaves the guessing out of the process and enables customers to make informed decisions and cost analysis. Additionally, the different Navisphere tools serve as an extension in predictive data allowing shippers to proactively plan their next move.

“Shippers can go in and see where they are paying the most in duties and taxes by country, by specific commodity, by shipper, etc.; they can see all of that data side-by-side,” Bidwell says. “This feature gives them the opportunity to make informed decisions and assist with weighing, should we look at alternative sourcing options, for example.”

Another trending issue within the importing and exporting landscape is forced labor compliance. Bidwell shares that the penalties for such compliance issues–regardless of whether the importer is aware—are costly and can lead to the ultimate seizure or destruction of the goods in addition to severe civil penalties.

“Anytime you are shipping across borders, it is important to have a compliance program in place and that your company has individuals or a team dedicated to reviewing and maintaining that program,” he adds. “C.H. Robinson has worked with thousands of companies related to this. At the end of the day, our role is to act as an extension of their team, to not only get them up to speed on what they need to be doing from a compliance perspective, but in the long-term acting as a reliable partner to ensure their ongoing compliance.”

Shippers must keep in mind that customs has eyes on their shipments and implementing proactive rather than reactive measures will greatly benefit the business in the long-term. Bidwell advises that to ensure compliance measures are met and maintained, costs are inevitable. It really boils down to when these costs are enforced.

“Compliance is an investment. It may cost more on the front-end but skipping out on that investment could cost you tenfold in the long term. As far as other supporting elements with compliance efforts, I recommend going back to the data analytics and visibility of your own data, because that information can be telling, and it allows you to identify anomalies as they occur.”

Investing in a solid compliance strategy is not just for shippers, it is a critical piece to the entire process, throughout the whole supply chain. With the labor shortage being felt in almost every industry, the logistics sector cannot afford to skip out on the creation and adherence to acceptable compliance efforts. When employees are professionally trained and informed on upcoming changes within the market, your business benefits.

“It’s about getting back to basics and not losing sight of all of the baseline compliance that comes with importing and exporting,” Bidwell says. “It is easy to get lost with all the changes that are happening with trade policy and a very volatile market. Companies must ensure that they do not lose sight of traditional basic compliance, because that stuff hasn’t gone away, and customs certainly hasn’t stopped.”

C.H. Robinson provides solutions for their customers at the local level and across the globe. Ensuring all bases are covered through customs and compliance experts enables the customer to rely on these resource experts to advise on how to ensure their supply chain is compliant. 

To learn more about C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere technology platform or other offerings, please visit


Ben Bidwell is the director of North America customs and compliance at C.H. Robinson. Ben joined C.H. Robinson in 2004 and became a Licensed Customs House Broker in 2007. Throughout his career at C.H. Robinson, he has consulted and resolved a wide range of customs disputes for clients involving classification, country of origin, marking violations, seizures and protests for products ranging from hospitality goods, automobile tires, apparel and textiles, toys and other consumer retail goods.


Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) Withhold Release Order Requirements on Cotton and Tomato Products, Detailed

On January 13, 2021 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a Withhold Release Order regarding cotton products and tomato products produced in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) effective February 13, 2021. The agency stated that: “CBP issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) against cotton products and tomato products produced in Xinjiang based on information that reasonably indicates the use of detainee or prison labor and situations of forced labor.” CBP identified the following International Labor Organization forced labor indicators as a result of its investigation: “debt bondage, restriction of movement, isolation, intimidation and threats, withholding of wages, and abusive living and working conditions.”

This finding effectively shifts the burden to an importer to prove that a product produced in the XUAR containing cotton or tomato goods was not produced using any forced labor indicators. Moreover, CBP’s WRO makes clear that products are covered if they use such cotton or tomato inputs “in whole or in part,” with no de minimis exception provided. By placing the burden on the importer to prove that the product it is importing is not produced in whole or in part from such XUAR merchandise, CBP is creating a major hurdle. Detailed information will be required, in our experience, to meet CBP internal evidentiary standards. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) provided by CBP provide some useful examples of the level of detail required in any response:

For cotton products: Affidavit from yarn producer and the source of raw cotton that identifies where the raw cotton was sourced.  Purchase Order, Invoice, and Proof of Payment for the yarn and raw cotton. List of production steps and production record for the yarn, including records that identify the cotton and cotton producer of the raw cotton. Transportation documents from cotton grower to yarn maker. Supporting documents related to employee’s that picked the cotton, time cards or the like, wage payment receipts, and daily process reports that relate to the raw cotton sold to the yarn producer.

For tomato products: Provide supply chain traceability documents pointing to the point of origin of the tomato seeds, tomatoes, or tomato products. Affidavit from the tomato processing facility that identifies both the parent company and the estate that sourced the tomato seeds and or tomatoes. Purchase Order, Invoice, and Proof of Payment for the tomato seeds, tomatoes, or tomato products, from the processing facility and the estate that sourced the raw materials. All production records for the tomato seeds, tomatoes, and/or tomato products that identify all steps, from seed to finished product, from the farm to shipping to the United States.

The above requirements will be difficult to meet, particularly since they may require importers to go back to supplying companies and upstream vendors for information on inputs, when the importer has no relationship with such upstream suppliers. There likely will be great difficulty in obtaining an adequate response from those companies.

While the current WRO applies only to the cotton and tomato sectors, it is also possible that similar WROs could be extended to other merchandise originating in the XUAR. Furthermore, CBP recommends the following in its FAQs: “To combat the risks of forced labor in supply chains, importers should have a comprehensive and transparent social compliance system in place.”

Importers concerned with this or future WROs should consider their options regarding traceability of their products, including implementation of a social compliance system meeting CBP standards. For questions on this or other WROs companies, should consult with their attorneys or consultants specializing in this area.


Jeffrey Neeley is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s International Trade Remedies team.

Robert Stang is a Washington, D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s Customs group.


Customs Announces Extension of Deadline to File Post Summary Correction (PSC)

Customs has posted CSMS #43528998 (July 31, 2020) reminding the trade community that as per the modification to the Post Summary Correction (“PSC”) procedure announced in the Federal Register on August 14, 2019 (84 FR 40430), the deadline for filing a PSC has been extended in cases where an importer requests and is granted an extension of liquidation pursuant to 19 CFR 159.12.

Under this modified procedure, after an importer is granted an extension of liquidation, a PSC may be transmitted to CBP up to 15 days prior to the scheduled liquidation date as per the liquidation extension.  Accordingly, under the modified procedure a PSC must be transmitted to CBP within 300 days after the date of entry or up to 15 days prior to the scheduled liquidation date, whichever is earlier, except in situations involving an extension of liquidation, in which case a PSC must be transmitted to CBP up to 15 days prior to the scheduled extended liquidation date.

This change was made to increase the amount of time a filer has to submit a PSC in situations involving trade requested extensions of liquidation. Significantly, it may have particular applicability in situations where an importer receives an extension of liquidation in order to preserve its right to a refund in the event that the importer requests an extension of liquidation to accommodate a Section 301 duty exclusion or duty exclusion extension request.

In those instances, if the duty exclusion request or the exclusion extension request is granted, then if liquidation of the entry has also been granted, the importer would have additional time to submit the PSC to Customs and obtain a duty refund. Of course, if the importer misses the time period for submitting a PSC in order to obtain a refund then it is also possible that the refund could still be obtained by filing a protest within 180 days of the date of liquidation.


Robert Stang is a Washington, D.C.-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. He leads the firm’s Customs group.


Commerce Finds Dumping and Countervailable Subsidization of Imports of Carbon and Alloy Steel Threaded Rod from China and India

On February 10, 2020, the Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) announced its affirmative final determinations in the AD and CVD investigations of imports of carbon and alloy steel threaded rod from China and India. See the fact sheet for a summary of the final cash deposit rates and margins.

In the China AD investigation, Commerce calculated cash deposit rates of 4.26% and 14.16% to the mandatory respondents Zhejiang Junyue Standard Part Co., Ltd. and Ningbo Zhongjiang High Strength Bolts Co., Ltd., respectively. Chinese companies that are eligible for a separate rate received a rate of 11.47%. The antidumping cash deposit rate for all other Chinese companies is 59.45%.

In the China CVD investigation, Commerce calculated and assigned subsidy rates of 66.81% and 31.02% to the mandatory respondents Zhejiang Junyue Standard Part Co., Ltd. and Ningbo Zhongjiang High Strength Bolts Co., Ltd., respectively. The subsidy rate for all other Chinese exporters is 41.17%.

In the India AD investigation, Commerce assigned a cash deposit rate of 28.34% to mandatory respondent Daksh Fasteners and 2.47% for mandatory respondent Mangal Steel Enterprises Limited. The cash deposit rate for all other Indian exporters is 2.47%.

In the India CVD investigation, Commerce assigned a cash deposit rate of 211.72% to mandatory respondent Daksh Fasteners and a rate of 6.07% to mandatory respondent Mangal Steel Enterprises Limited. The cash deposit rate for all other Indian exporters is 6.07%.

The ITC is currently scheduled to make its final determinations on or about March 23, 2020. If the ITC makes affirmative final determinations of material injury to domestic industry, then Commerce will issue AD and CVD orders instructing Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to collect deposits based on the applicable duty rate. If the ITC makes negative determinations of injury, then the investigations will be terminated.


Nithya Nagarajan is a Washington-based partner with the law firm Husch Blackwell LLP. Shee practices in the International Trade & Supply Chain group of the firm’s Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation industry team.

Camron Greer is an assistant trade analyst in Husch Blackwell LLP’s Washington, D.C. office.