News and Announcements

  • December 10, 2014 3:52 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    OWIT-Phoenix announces 2014 international charity award recipient: “Fresh Start Women’s Foundation”

    The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, announced its annual international charity award recipient organization for 2014: “Fresh Step Women’s Foundation”, a local non-profit charity organization offering services and classes to empower women to transform their lives through education, counseling and personal development.

    The charity award ceremony took place at the OWIT-Phoenix and Arizona District Export Council’s, Holiday Networking Reception Event, a networking reception featuring US Embassy Commercial Specialists from the EU, held on December 9th at the Polsinelli Law Firm, One East Washington, 

    Suite 1200 , Phoenix, Arizona

    The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media 

    information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • September 05, 2014 3:37 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    OWIT-Phoenix announces new international trade event: “Cross- Cultural Communication”

     The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, is pleased to announce international trade  event: “Cross Cultural Communication: Strategies for Increased Success Negotiating Around the World”, and welcome special guest speaker, Douglas Cohen,  Senior Manager, Trade and Contracts, Worldwide Trade & Legal Associates, for an informative global discussion. Event will be held on Thursday, September 18th at the Maricopa Association of Governments Building, 302 North First Avenue, 2nd Floor Phoenix, AZ 85003, from 8:30 am to 11:00 am. Cost for this event is Free for OWIT-Phoenix members, $35 non-members, $25 students. For more information regarding this event, go to http://www.owitphoenix.org/event-1717974.

    The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media 

    information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • July 29, 2014 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    OWIT-Phoenix in collaboration with AZIGG announces new int’l trade event: “South of the Border” Global Luncheon

    The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, in collaboration with AZIGG, is pleased to announce int’l trade  event: “South of the Border: New Opportunities in and with Mexico”  with special guest speakers, Consul General,  Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, Honduras Consul, Tony Banegas, AZ Treasurer Candidate, Hugh Hallman, CEO Anurag Kumar, iTexico, GM Roberto Moreno, Collectron, for an 

    informative global discussion on the latest trade and investment opportunities with Mexico plus an update on border immigration. Event will be held on Tuesday, August 5th at the Macayo’s Restaurant, 4001 N Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm. Cost for this event including full lunch with beverage is $29.95. 

     The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media 

    information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • June 06, 2014 8:51 AM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    OWIT-Phoenix announces New Int’l Trade Event: How to Do Business in the BRIC Countries

                           

    The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, is pleased to announce its new int’l trade program event: How to Do Business in the BRIC Countries: Brazil, Russia, India and China, and welcome special guest speaker, Chiradeep “Deep” SenGupta, Principle, Trade & Customs, Fedex Trade Networks, Co-Founder, Trade & Customs Advisory Services (TCAS), for an informative seminar discussion on how to do business in the BRIC countries through an understanding of the import and export risks and strategies for long term growth and success. Event will be held on Thursday, June 19th at the Maricopa Association of Governments,

    Phoenix, from 8:30 am to 10:30 am. General admission cost to the public is $35, Students $25, and $0 cost to OWIT-Phoenix members. 

     

    The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • April 27, 2014 1:58 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    OWIT-Phoenix in collaboration with Growth Nation announces Int’l Trade Event: “Verde XChange

    Arizona” Global Conference

    The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, in collaboration with Growth Nation, is pleased to announce international trade event and global conference “Toward Greatness:” Growing Business and Creating a More Sustainable Community, with Mayor Greg Stanton and 25 cities to be held on May 1st – May 2nd, at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, 340 N 3rd Street, Phoenix 85004 / Valley of the Sun Ballroom, from 8 am to 3 pm.

    The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • March 15, 2014 12:35 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    OWIT-Phoenix announces new Int’l Trade event: The Maritime Industry’s NEW Green Initiatives: What You Need to Know About Environmental Sustainability and Its Impact on Your Business

     

    The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, is pleased to announce its new int’l trade program event and welcome guest speakers, Robert Clark, Director of Security, APL, and Karen Vellutini, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Devine Intermodal, and President of Women in Logistics, Northern California,  for an informative discussion on “The Maritime Industry’s NEW Green Initiatives”: What you need to know about Environmental Sustainability and its impact on your business,  to be held on March 20th at the Maricopa Association of Governments, Phoenix, from 8:30 am to 10:30 am. General admission cost to the public is $35, Students $25, and $0 cost to OWIT-Phoenix members. 

    The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • February 14, 2014 12:58 PM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

     

    OWIT-Phoenix in collaboration with PCFR announce special event: “Global Diplomacy & Security”, with guest speaker, Four Star Admiral, James Stavridis

    The Organization for Women in International Trade-Phoenix Chapter, in collaboration with the Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations, is pleased to announce and welcome event guest speaker, Admiral James Stavridis, for a special event meeting and discussion on “Global Diplomacy and Security”, to be held on February 27th at the Arizona Biltmore Resort, from 11 am to 1:30 pm. General admission cost to the public is $75, inclusive of lunch.

    The Organization for Women in International Trade, established in 1989, is a non-profit organization, with 25 chapters and over 3000 members worldwide, whose mission is to foster and support international trade and the advancement of women and men in business by providing an educational forum, expert advice and networking opportunities.

    For media information contact OWIT-Phoenix, President, Judy Lukas, at president@owit-phoenix.com, or Director Marketing & Public Relations, Laura Halik, marketing@owit-phoenix.com. Telephone:       URL: http://www.owitphoenix.org

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  • December 18, 2013 1:32 PM | Deleted user


    Dear OWIT Supporters,

    Happy Holidays! Well, our December “Happy Hour” Networking Event, on 12/3, at Cantina Laredo was a wonderful evening and a great success! We wanted to thank everyone for coming out and joining us for this annual year end event. Congratulations once again to this year’s OWIT Scholarship winner, Michael Clare!  And also a special note of thanks to our newly elected OWIT Board Members for 2013!  

    It’s been a successful year and as 2013 comes to a close, we would like to take a moment to specially thank you for your continued support of the OWIT-Phoenix Chapter. The coming new year, 2014, is going to be an even greater year with the many new educational and insightful programs and networking events that OWIT-Phoenix will be offering. So we wish you and your families all the best during this Holiday Season and look forward to seeing you soon at the next OWIT-Phoenix event, in 2014!

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails and…. Explore…..Dream….Discover!”  Mark Twain

    Happy Holidays!

    All the best,

    The OWIT Executive Board

  • October 28, 2011 7:38 AM | Deleted user

    Regardless of the changing economic and political environment in the North American region, Mexico has constantly been an attractive option for companies and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes looking to establish in Mexico their hub for expansion throughout Latin America. While Mexico still has many challenges lying ahead in its road to becoming a competitive economic leader, there are many factors that make Mexico one of the best options for foreign direct investment in Latin America. Out of 183 economies, The Doing Business Guide 2010 published by The World Bank ranks Mexico 51st in the “ease of doing business” category and 41st in “investor protection”. On the other hand, Mexico has yet to improve in “paying taxes” (106th) and “employing workers” (136th), reflecting how the lack of reforms to tax and labor laws continue to be a burden for Mexico’s growth. These ranks may not be what Mexicans would wish for, but are better than other economies in the region.  They also reflect the low labor costs that make Mexico a low cost but high quality option for manufacturing.

    Mexico has signed 12 Free Trade Agreements (FTA) that cover 44 countries. In Latin America, Mexico has an FTA with Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Nicaragua and Uruguay. Also, Mexico has entered into Economic Cooperation Agreements with Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Paraguay and Cuba. This strengthens Mexico’s position as a viable gateway to the Latin American market. In addition to the FTAs Mexico has bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements and a good number of treaties to avoid double taxation with several nations around the world.

    It is undeniable that there are certain negative factors that may influence a decision to enter the Mexican market, namely, the impact of organized crime and the international economic instability. However, for those assessing the risks and potential opportunities of doing business in Mexico, here are a few selected considerations to take into account.

    Permanent Establishment. Mexican tax authorities and laws define this concept as a location in Mexico where business activities are carried out or independent professional services are rendered. The effect of being deemed a permanent establishment (“PE”) is that income obtained in Mexico is subject to the applicable taxes pursuant to Mexican law and any applicable treaty to avoid double taxation - like the one signed by the United States and Mexico. Examples of a PE include a branch, corporate offices, a mine, a manufacturing plant or a similar facility. Furthermore, there are some additional cases also deemed as a PE, such as having a legal representative to enter into agreements on behalf of the foreign party or an independent sales agent if such agent is working outside of his ordinary course of business.

    Foreign Investment Restrictions. In the past years, amendments to Mexican laws and regulations have been passed aimed to help the country become a more receptive and open economy to foreign investment. However, Mexican foreign investment legislation still sets forth limitations to foreign equity for business activities in certain industries, and reserves to the Mexican State activities deemed strategic to the country’s interests, for example the petroleum sector. Make sure to verify, with the advice of a Mexican attorney, that the business you intend to carry out in Mexico is not limited or restricted by these provisions. In any case, a company with foreign investment must be recorded, and file periodic reports, before the National Registry of Foreign Investments.

    Immigration Status. A visa is required by foreign citizens who enter Mexico to do business. If you travel to Mexico to search for investment opportunities, make an investment, actually work in such investment project, represent foreign companies or enter into commercial transactions of any type, you need to have the proper legal immigrant status. To that effect, there are different types of visas depending on the purpose and length of the visit to Mexico: visa for visiting business persons, visiting investors, commercial representatives or visitors who will carry out commercial transactions. It is advised that you plan ahead for these proceedings as they can be long and complex.

    Due-Diligence. This is a key element when your investment in Mexico will involve a local partner, be it in the form of a distributor, sales agent or representative, joint-venture or even the purchase of assets (all of these discussed below). For real estate investments, it is just as important to make a thorough title search and research on the property. An extensive and detailed due-diligence may be the precaution that greatly mitigates the risk or exposure to any liabilities or any type of future loss.

    There are different alternatives to enter the Mexican market. Below is a list of the most common vehicles or structures and a brief description of the process and its main implications:

    1.             Mexican Entity. If you decide to set up a business organization under Mexican laws, there are different factors to take into account. One of the first steps is deciding what kind of entity is the best alternative. The most common choices are the sociedad anonima (“S.A.”), most similar to a stock corporation, and a sociedad de responsabilidad limitada (“S.R.L.”), most similar to a U.S. limited liability company. Both the S.A. and the S.R.L. provide limited liability to its shareholders/members and status as a legal entity (they are companies, not partnerships) and have the same tax treatment in Mexico. Therefore, the criteria foreign investors generally use to decide between these two forms are: (1) transferability of equity, (2) the ability to go public, and (3) primarily for U.S. investors and purposes, possible tax advantages. If the strategic objective is to take the Mexican entity to go public, the S.A. would be the most appropriate form. If the strategic objective involves a pass-through structure for U.S. tax purposes for income derived from the Mexican operations, the foreign investor should consult with its U.S. tax advisors on whether the S.R.L. meets applicable tests under U.S. income tax rules.

    2.             Distributors. Distribution agreements are a frequent way for foreign companies to “test the waters” or position their products within the Mexican market. In these relationships, the supplier has the ability to impose certain requirements to the distributor in order to act as such, such as a geographical presence or financial and human resources. Distribution agreements may allow a supplier to establish certain standards for the distributor such as minimum sales, stock inventories or pricing, in which case antitrust and price-fixing regulations may apply. If an exclusivity provision is included, it is commonly stipulated as exclusivity within a certain territory and/or for a specified period of time. A sensitive provision regarding exclusivity is the penalty or damages (it is unlikely that a Mexican court will award both) to which a manufacturer is entitled in the event of breach from the distributor.

    3.             Commercial Agents. Often (and in some cases, mistakenly) referred to by foreign investors as sales representatives, a commercial agent is defined by the law as a business entity or individual that enters into a commercial agency agreement, as an independent party, in order to promote and develop a principal’s business. There are different types of agents under Mexican law, but the easiest way to categorize is whether the agent has authority or not to act on behalf of the principal. Two of the most sensitive provisions in these agreements deal with labor and tax consequences, respectively. In the first, it is important to state that the agency shall not be construed as an employment relationship, especially given the Mexican pro-worker labor laws. The main criterion that Mexican courts will use in order to determine the existence or absence of an employer-employee relationship is the level of subordination. In connection with the second aspect, Mexican income tax law provides that a PE may be inferred when an independent agent receives its compensation regardless of its results or when such agent does not act in the ordinary course of its business activities.

    4.             Joint-Venture. A strategic alliance of this type (“JV”) may be an appropriate vehicle when the business strategy involves a more sophisticated and complex plan. Reasons that may justify a JV with a Mexican company can be restrictions to foreign investment (previously discussed) or the need for a local partner with knowledge of the market and political environment. It is worth noting that, when identifying potential JV partners, the importance of a social and personal relationship is often underestimated. The negotiation and documentation process of a JV generally includes a stock purchase agreement, a shareholders agreement or a subscription agreement. Key elements of these agreements are the provisions governing management, capital calls, non-compete clauses, dispute resolution, exit mechanisms and buyouts. Depending on the specific transaction, you may have ancillary agreements such as supply, technical/professional services, employment for key executives and license.

    5.             Mergers and Acquisitions. Just like some of the previously discussed alternatives, a stock acquisition in Mexico can be the subject of a separate analysis due to the wide range of issues that can arise. Purchasing the stock of a Mexican company brings advantages such as the simplicity of acquiring a going concern and, in some cases, certain tax benefits depending on the target’s profitability. However, a very thorough due-diligence should be performed to assess the target from a financial, accounting, tax and legal standpoints. It is also important to document an extensive stock purchase agreement with comprehensive representations and warranties.

    6.             Asset Purchase. The main advantage of this option is that the buyer does not inherit liabilities from the target. Also, a less extensive due-diligence may be required, and is performed only in regards to the purchased assets. On the other hand, there may be some adverse consequences regarding value added tax or local real estate acquisition taxes. When all assets are acquired from a company with the purpose of continuing the same business activities, you will likely be required to go through the employer substitution process pursuant to Mexican labor laws, and have to pursue any licenses or permits to continue operating such business.

    The purpose of this article is not to provide legal advice on doing business in Mexico, but to offer some guidance in connection with the main issues you may face in the process. In any case, it is strongly suggested that you consult with a Mexican attorney prior to making any decisions on how to structure your entry into the Mexican market.

    _______________

    Luis is a Mexican attorney who works as a foreign associate at BSA Legal Group, a boutique law firm specialized in international business transactions. Luis is based in El Paso, TX, and his firm has additional offices in Washington, DC; Lima, Peru; and Merida, Venezuela. Luis can be reached at la@bsalegalgroup.com. For more information, please visit www.bsalegalgroup.com

     

    May 2010

  • October 28, 2011 7:36 AM | Deleted user

    Ask a room of Trade Compliance Managers about the toughest task they face in their company roles and indubitably the overwhelming consensus will be –Selling compliance to management.  Regulatory customs compliance requires that management dedicate resources to a non-money generating company function that very well may be perceived by some as frustrating the business objectives of other –profitableundefinedcompany functions.    In these economic times, even as budgets are lean, importers cannot afford to cut corners in customs compliance. 

    Making the Case for Formal Customs Compliance Policies and Procedures

    Unchecked customs liabilities are simply bad for business.  Import errors can be expensive and can certainly impact a company’s bottom line.  Not only is a company potentially liable for unpaid duties and fees for a period of up to five years from the date of an alleged violation under US law, but importers may additionally face interest payments on any revenue it has deprived the government and also be assessed heavy penalties.  The financial consequences of recurring errors that are not detected and timely addressed with process-oriented solutions may very well get the attention of management down the road.  Your best tool:  the Customs Compliance Manual.  A relatively small, one-time investment can aid in securing your company’s ability to freely and continuously exercise its trade privileges. 

    The Compliance Manual as Evidence to Customs of an Importer’s Internal Controls

    The adoption of a Customs Compliance Manual by an importer may even help a company avoid extended audit scrutiny should the company be selected for a customs audit or “Focused Assessment” by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).  In a Focused Assessment, CBP Regulatory Auditors open an audit by assessing whether the various import activities of a target company pose a significant risk of loss of revenue to CBP.  In the Pre-Assessment Survey Phase of an audit, Regulatory Auditors assess the internal controls of a company.  Highly probative of adequate internal controls is an instituted Customs Compliance Manual containing systems and processes that address compliance concerns and that can be documented.  If it is determined that adequate internal controls exist and are followed, a company can potentially gain a favorable audit opinion at this early audit stage and thus avoid moving into the more disruptive and extensive transaction testing phase.

    CBP’s Model Customs Compliance Manual

    You have convinced management that it should invest in the development of and implementation of formal customs compliance policies and proceduresundefinedwhere do you start?  First, it should be noted that while there are no “one size fits all” internal controls solutions, CBP provides a sample of an Internal Controls Manual as part of the Focused Assessment Program Materials that it makes available to the trade community on its website (www.cbp.gov).  The sample manual, which CBP states in the foreword to the manual is merely intended to provide ideas that may be helpful to importers, is published in its entirety at http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/trade/trade_programs/audits/focused_assessment/fap_documents/exh4a.ctt/exh4a.pdf.    

     

    CBP does not suggest nor should this customs law practitioner be understood to imply that the sample manual be adopted as drafted.  It is not intended to be fact-specific to a particular importer’s trade program.  Just the same, it is worthwhile to review the sample manual as CBP includes certain topics that are relevant to importers in general and reveals certain policies and procedures that CBP considers noteworthy to include in a sample manual.  These illustrative sample sections include:  (1) the topically-organized inclusion of both policies and procedures; (2) the identification of typical responsible parties; (3) topic-specific checklists and forms for ensuring and verifying compliance in specific import activities; and (4) periodic review methodologies and staff training programs to ensure that policies and objectives are met.

     

    Seven Strategies for Designing an Effective Customs Compliance Manual

    The following are seven strategies that can help guide companies in the drafting of comprehensive, effective, and business-practical customs compliance policies and procedures. 

    (1)   Demonstrate Management’s Commitment to Customs Compliance

    The launch of a corporate Customs Compliance Manual should be accompanied by a letter from the company’s chief officer committing the company to comply with all US laws and regulations governing the company’s trade activities.  The purpose of a “Management Commitment Letter” is to unequivocally direct all company personnel to work in a coordinated manner towards achieving company-wide sound trade practices as outlined in the Manual.

     (2)   Consider Your Company’s Importer Profile Before Drafting

    Key to developing effective internal controls is being aware of your importer profile.  To this end, prior to drafting company customs internal controls, review the company’s recent entry data.  Your customs broker data should be able to provide reports of your trade activity or you can make a FOIA request to CBP for the trade data that CBP has available on your company imports (CBP refers to this information collectively as ITRAC data, i.e., Importer Trade Activity.) 

    A company’s internal controls can only be effective to the extent that they address all significant import activities and risks.  As such, it is essential that your company’s procedures address the entry requirements and restrictions pertinent to the types of goods the company imports and the importation regimes it utilizes.  For example, if your study of entry data reveals that a significant portion of company entries are imported duty-free (e.g. GSP, NAFTA, US Goods Returned Claims), make sure to include substantive verification procedures to address the particular preferential program requirements in a manual.

    (3)   Recognize Vendor/Partner  Roles in your Company’s Compliance Program

    Whether your company imports goods manufactured by vendors or relies on outside customs brokers to facilitate importations, external players impact the properness of your company’s import transactions.  In many cases, an importer must seek meticulous documentation from vendors and partners to substantiate various entry declarations.  Procedures are necessary to coordinate the accurate transmission of information between vendors/partners and the company and to ensure that proper documentation is secured to substantiate import declarations made at the time of entry.   

     (4)   Incorporate Reasonable & Business-Practical Procedures

    Procedures should be drafted in a manner that reflect and respond to actual business flows and processes.   Procedures that are not sensitive to actual business processes may actually work to thwart compliance and business objectives and will be at risk of being disregarded. 

    For example, often complete value variables for a particular good are not known at time of entry.  Such is the case when dutiable royalties are to be paid in connection with the later sale of an imported good in the US.  In such instances, it is not necessarily practical or possible to always observe a procedure calling for the full value of a good to be declared at importation at all times.  Rather, consider incorporating alternate, flexible procedures (i.e. a procedure allowing for periodic value reconciliation to account for dutiable royalties and assist payments) that can accommodate various import scenarios.

     (5)   Simplify & Streamline ComplianceundefinedThink Through Process Flows

    Meeting compliance objectives will depend on a company’s ability to work in a coordinated manner.  For example, ensuring that a company’s imports are properly classified at entry may require various company functions working together well in advance of importation.  The various functions may include purchasing, engineering, as well as trade compliance personnel coordinating with the company’s external vendors and customs brokers.  Customs compliance personnel will find the task of ensuring the proper classification of newly sourced raw materials and finished goods alike easier when procedures are in place that will allow them to gather technical product information from the various identified sources of information well in advance of the materials leaving the loading dock and being en route to the US.

    At the same time, keep procedures involving process flows simple.  An integrated approach to customs compliance should simplify the execution of compliance objectives and not confuse the key players.  Likewise, a manual should be easy to digest and not be intimidating.  The goal is for company personnel to consult it (frequently) and without the assistance of an attorney!

     (6)   Anticipate Import Errors, Designate Remedial Action Plans

    Even with internal controls in place, clerical errors and unforeseen circumstances may give rise to import errors.  As such, effective Customs Compliance Manuals anticipate import errors and designate time-sensitive courses of action that address and remedy the import errors.  Naturally, a manual will need to include both appropriate actions to address isolated import errors as well as those needed to remedy systematic import errors. 

    A manual should also provide for the appropriate times to contact an external expert in customs law matters, such when it is necessary to demonstrate reasonable care by obtaining legal advice regarding doubts concerning particular import transactions and regulatory requirements.   Likewise, a manual should indicate situations requiring that concerns related to customs compliance be elevated to the attention of a company’s internal legal department and senior management.  The manual should thus specify what circumstances trigger such internal notice requirements (i.e. single errors vs. systematic errors or significant loss of revenue concerns) and the particular company contacts to be notified in such cases.  Such a policy and procedures positively demonstrates a company’s earnest commitment to customs compliance.

    (7)   Adopt an Internal Review Methodology

    Lastly, effective internal controls call for the periodic verification of import compliance through the review of specific import transactions (or an “internal audit”).  The frequency of and methodologies guiding such reviews will depend on a company’s particular importer profile and its evaluation of its compliance risks.  

    In designing your company’s customs compliance review program, consider the following questions:  (1) are mechanisms in place to verify regulatory compliance in the general customs assessment areas (i.e. value, classification, quantity reporting etc.) as well as all significantly utilized preferential duty program requirements, (2) will the reviews be conducted sufficiently frequently to identify import errors in time to inhibit systematic problems from developing, (3) shall the review be conducted by a qualified company employee and/or with the assistance of an external expert, (4) to whom shall the results be reported, and, finally, (5) how will the results be evaluated and acted-upon.

     Conclusion

    In sum, designing and implementing a corporate Customs Compliance Manual requires careful planning and substantial coordination with various internal and external players.  In the end, however, it is an effective compliance tool and is a relatively small, one-time investment towards attaining import objectives.


    Ilya A. Iussa

    International Trade Attorney, Iussa Law, PLLC

    www.iussalaw.com

     May 2010

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