CBP stops fraudulent textile shipments
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized $1 million worth of wearing apparel at the Port of Newark, N.J., on Oct. 10 for being illegally transshipped from China to avoid textile trade laws, the agency said last week
The clothing was contained in three shipments totaling more than 2,500 cartons.
Some importers mislabel the country of origin on their goods to avoid higher duties, quotas or embargoes that apply to certain countries.
The Chinese-made articles — men’s pullovers and Polo shirts — were transshipped through three different countries in the Pacific Rim to circumvent the government’s quota on Chinese textile items, said Janet Labuda, director of the textile/apparel policy and programs division.
Quotas on all other countries were removed two years ago to comply with World Trade Organization rules. The United States invoked safeguard clauses that limit Chinese textile imports through 2008 to help domestic producers from being overwhelmed by a surge of cheap clothing.
CBP has toughened enforcement in this area with the assistance of the Office International Trade, which was formed one year ago and is analyzing more shipment data to help target containers for inspection.
U.S. Customs usually conducts overseas visits to textile production regions such as Hong Kong on an annual or bi-annual basis. Special agents and import specialists check whether factories have the capability to produce the type of textile and amount that they claim to produce.
Labuda said CBP trade specialists analyze shipping and production trends based on information gleaned from the textile verification visits and other sources to identify high-risk shipments.
The number of factory visits in foreign countries has doubled from fiscal year 2006 to 2007. The number of audits has increased 60 percent, with an almost seven-fold increase in recommended revenue recovery. Last year CBP visited 671 foreign factories. Penalties assessed have increased by more than three times, according to CBP.
No charges have been filed in the case so far, Labuda said.