ANNOUNCEMENT 15 Jun 2016In June 2016, the government of the United States of America announced a change in import formalities.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
In a final rule published in the Federal Register (Volume 81, Number 115) on June 15, 2016 and effective July 15, 2016, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminated a provision that exempted certain low-value imports of cotton from an assessment. The existing Cotton Board rules and regulations had provided a de minimis provision with respect to the Cotton Research and Promotion (R&P) program, which assesses U.S. cotton producers and importers of cotton and cotton-containing products. Importers are exempt from paying the cotton import assessment (known commonly among importers as the 'cotton fee') if a line item on U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) documentation is $2.00 or less. (The rates at which products are assessed are posted at http://www.cottonboard.org/buyers/assessment-rates/ and http://www.cottonboard.org/sites/454/uploaded/files/ratechart10.pdf.) The exemption was initially established to lessen the administrative burden of collecting an import assessment, which was originally estimated to be $2.00 per line item, in instances in which the transactions costs of the collection would exceed the actual value of the assessment. According to AMS, technological advances in the CBP documentation process significantly reduced the transactions costs associated with collecting import assessments, and CBP has since stopped charging for the processing and collecting of assessments. Given that transactions costs no longer exceed assessment rates of $2.00 or less, AMS is removing this de minimis provision from the regulations. The removal of this exception may result in an increase in the administrative costs associated with certain imports.