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Alibaba bests Wal-Mart

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

alibabaAccording to ChinaDaily, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said that it has officially become the world’s largest retail platform, with its total trading volume online in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2016 surpassing Wal-Mart’s annual sales.

The Hangzhou-headquartered e-commerce giant didn’t reveal the total gross merchandize volume (GMV) in the fiscal year.  But it announced on March 21 that its China retail marketplace platforms have already surpassed the milestone of 3 trillion yuan ($475.89 billion) in GMV in the latest fiscal year.  Wal-Mart Stores Inc posted revenue of $482.1 billion for its fiscal year ending Jan 31.

CBP: Counterfeit import seizures up 25%

Monday, April 18th, 2016

According to American Shipper*, US Customs has reported that seizures of imports containing intellectual property infringements

US Customs image

US Customs image

  • The top two products most seized for IPR infractions last fiscal year included apparel and accessories, such as handbags and wallets, and watches and jewelry, respectively.
  • In fiscal year 2015, China maintained its position as the top source for counterfeit and pirated goods seized by federal authorities, with a value $697 million or 52 percent of the total value of imports seized.
(*Site registration required)

Expanded Panama Canal set to open June 26

Friday, March 25th, 2016
© 2015

© 2015

The expansion of the Panama Canal, a $5.3 billion project almost two years behind schedule and plagued by cost overruns and contractor disputes, will open on June 26, according to Canal Authority Administrator Jorge Quijano.

The expansion may shift international trade routes, allowing ships to reach Asia from the U.S. Gulf Coast more than two weeks faster than they would going east through the Suez Canal. It’ll make room for vessels with the capacity to carry 12,600 containers, almost three times what the existing locks permit, and will be able to handle tankers carrying liquefied natural gas.

The Canal project has been a major force in driving US port improvement projects to accommodate the larger ships.


De minimis threshold for shipments increases from $200 to $800

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

Coins_in_a_JarPer CSMS #16-000181:

Starting today, March 10, 2016, shipments valued at $800 or less will be eligible for release under the same processes and with the same restrictions as currently apply for de minimis shipments of $200 or less.

CBP has the right to require a formal entry on any shipment where additional information, bonding or protection is required.  In the case of low value shipments, it is important to note that this treatment can be denied if used for the purpose of avoiding compliance with any pertinent law or regulation.  That is especially important where revenue, import safety or serious trade enforcement issues are present.


Coast Guard to address trade’s worry about new VGM requirement

Friday, February 12th, 2016

cargo shipAccording to American Shipper*, The US Coast Guard will meet with the Federal Maritime Commission on February 18 to hear the trade’s concerns about the new verified gross mass (VGM) requirement enacted by the International Maritime Organization.  Reportedly, a United States Coast Guard officer says the agency is not planning any special effort to enforce new regulations having to do with shipping container weights.

Terminal operators and shippers remain unsettled about a lack of clarity on how individual countries are going to implement the new IMO rules requiring shippers to provide the VGM of containers prior to their being loaded.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee adopted the container weight requirement in November 2014 as an amendment to the international Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty. It goes into effect on July 1, 2016.

(*Site registration required)

Chinese imports to US indicate “deepest drop” since Q3 2011

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

usimportsfromchinaFrom the Journal of Commerce*:

For the first time since the second quarter of 2013, US imports from China fell on a year-over-over basis, IHS Maritime & Trade Senior Economist Mario O. Moreno said. In the fourth quarter of 2015, China subtracted 0.5 percent from overall US containerized import growth. This also marked the deepest drop by China since the third quarter of 2011 (down 2.4 percent). High inventory levels and softer consumer spending prompted retailers to destock markedly. The retail sales-to-inventory ratio stood at 1.48 in November, up from 1.42 a year earlier.

Despite the sharp subtraction to overall import growth by China, the total inbound trade managed to post a 1.1 percent year-over-year gain in the quarter, mostly because of increased shipments from South America and the Mediterranean.

(*JOC site registration may be required)

NY/NJ ports reopen after shutdowns; retailers still worried

Monday, February 1st, 2016


From Retail Dive:

Dive Brief:

  • Cargo was stranded for nine hours Friday as some 1,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association staged an unscheduled work stoppage.
  • The port workers are reportedly frustrated with some actions of the The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a New York/New Jersey agency established in 1953 to fight corruption and crime at the ports. The Waterfront Commission has been under fire for some time for what critics see as meddling in the shipping industry. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last year vetoed a bill to abolish the commission but admitted a need for reform. Efforts in that state to dissolve the commission and transfer operations to the state police are ongoing.
  • The Port of New York & New Jersey is the busiest port on the East Coast, with more than three million containers coming through annually and bringing in imports worth more than $200 billion. The stoppage last week was ultimately declared illegal by an arbitrator.

Dive Insight:

  • Friday’s port work stoppage came after a winter storm also shut down operations there for two days, and one retail group warned that such actions could be devastating for retailers, which are already battling inventory problems.
  • “This is déjà vu for retailers, and an unwelcome start to 2016. A shutdown on the East Coast of any meaningful duration will have dire consequences for those dependent on spring inventory deliveries,” Kelly Kolb, VP of government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in an emailed statement to Retail Dive. ”A long-lasting strike would ultimately impact thousands of jobs along America’s supply chain.”

Cargo pre-inspection to expedite US, Mexico customs clearance

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

mexUSflagsAccording to the January 2016 edition of American Shipper*, the United States and Mexico have taken considerable steps towards an integrated border management system between the two countries that offers pre-inspection of cargo before it crosses the border.

  • Clearing cargo in advance relieves pressure on ports of entry that are often congested during peak traffic periods
  • Expediting the flow of cargo creates more efficiency for businesses  and provides incentives for them to increase their level of international trade
  • In October 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security and Mexican official signed a memorandum of understanding that allows customs officers from both countries “to work side-by-side for the first time enforcing their respective trade and security regulations on each other’s soil.”
  • Three pilot programs:
    1. Laredo, Texas airport — Mexican customs officers are physically located here and pre-screen air cargo shipments by looking at advance shipment information and the manifest.  Suspicious cargo can be pulled for inspection prior to loading.
    2. Otay Mesa crossing (San Diego and Tijuana) — Launching in early 2016, CBP officers and agricultural specialists will be stationed in the Mexican compound to inspect agricultural products moving on truck to the US.
    3. Santa Theresa, NM/Juarez checkpoint — Planning in place for joint inspections of shipments originating from, and arriving at, giant maquiladora assembly plant operated by Foxconn for Dell and other major electronics retailers.
(*Site registration required)


Antidumping — furniture importer on the hook for $15 million for duty evasion

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015



Last week, as reported in American Shipper, Texas-based University Furnishings agreed to pay $15 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit for evasion of import duties.  The United States alleged that University Furnishings knowingly classified dormitory bedroom furniture imported from China as office or other types of furniture not subject to duties.  Interestingly, the suit originated as a whistleblower lawsuit, under that provision of the False Claims Act, by University Loft Co., a manufacturer of student furniture.

ACE: TSN seeks members for working group on CPSC cargo release pilot

Monday, August 31st, 2015


The International Trade Data System (ITDS)  Committee of the Trade Support Network (TSN), an advisory board of trade representatives that provides guidance to US Customs on ACE issues, is seeking members of the trade to form a working group to discuss a technical solution to be used by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in the pilot to test the new cargo release and control functionality of ACE/ITDS.

You must apply by this Friday, September 4.  See CSMS #15-000642 for details.