People who import-export say the most surprising things

By Peter Quinter, guest columnist

I have been an international trade attorney for over 20 years. In that time, I have represented a few thousand companies involved in the importation, exportation, and international transportation of merchandise. I have seen respectful, efficient U.S. government employees and the most uncaring bureaucrats, importers who care about the law and others who only care how to get around it, and customs brokers who always try to do the right thing and others who you wonder how they ever passed the broker exam and the background check. I have actually heard intelligent people who are CEOs or General Counsels of their companies say the most surprising things to me over the years …

Here’s my list of the 10 Most Common Misconceptions in International Trade …

1. It is okay to bring in up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars into the U.S.

2. Dietary supplements that are “all natural” are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, therefore, all kinds of medical claims can be made for them.

3. The U.S. government does not care about the value of cargo being exported from the U.S. because there are no duties, taxes or fees paid to the U.S. Government on exports.

4. If an airline passenger brings into the U.S. over $10,000 in cash, the passenger must pay a tax to U.S. Customs or the IRS.

5. If an importer uses a customs broker to file an entry with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and some false information is provided to U.S. CBP, only the customs broker is liable to U.S. CBP, not the importer.

6. No one gets hurt by importing, buying and selling counterfeit merchandise.

7. If some food product is marked with “Made in America” it must be good, but if it is marked “Made in China” it must be bad.

8. If an imported item is marked “Made in Vietnam” or “Made in Malaysia” or “Made in America” then it really must have been manufactured or produced in the identified country, and no other.

9. Since it is illegal to sell military items to places such as North Korea and Iran, if a U.S. company ships those items to a friendly country such as Australia or England, and the buyer in those countries then re-exports them to North Korea or Iran, the U.S. company has done nothing wrong.

10. A product manufactured in India, transported to Mexico, and then imported into the U.S. from Mexico should enter duty free under NAFTA because Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. are all members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Copyright © 2010, Becker & Poliakoff

About Peter Quinter

10 May 2012: Peter Quinter is now a Shareholder in the law firm of GrayRobinson and Chair of the firm’s Customs & International Trade Law Group. Based in the firm’s Miami and Ft. Lauderdale offices, Quinter principally represents persons and companies involved in international trade and transport. Editor of the GrayRobinson Customs and International Law Blog, Quinter is widely recognized for his expertise in international and trade law.

You can contact Peter Quinter at [email protected] or at (954) 270-1864.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of its author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views or Descartes Datamyne. In addition, this article is for general information purposes only and it’s not intended to provide legal advice or opinions of any kind and my not be used for professional or commercial purposes. No one should act, or refrain from acting, based solely on this article without first seeking appropriate legal or other professional advice.

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