News

U.S. and Universal Postal Union reach agreement for mail parcel shipping rates

One of the biggest worries for e-Commerce shippers going into the holiday season was the potential departure of the United States on October 17th from the Universal Postal Union agreement governing rates and services for small packages shipped between countries. In short – had the U.S. chose to leave, they would have had to negotiate bilateral rates with every country rather than the union’s agreed-to rate structure.

The President has made no secret that he feels that the rates were non-compensatory and wanted them to be increased.

The agreement reached between the U.S. and the UPU calls for the following:

  • There is an increased speed for the phase-in of increased rates for inbound international bulky letters and small packages.
  • Beginning July 1, 2020, member countries with inbound letter post volumes in excess of 75,000 tons will be able to opt-in and self declare rates.
  • The approach favored and proposed by the U.S. – for all countries to immediately set their own rates – was roundly refused.

A key trade industry group, the International Mailers Advisory Group, said:

IMAG is pleased that the Universal Postal Union (UPU) was able to find a solution to achieve global remuneration reform that allows the United States to remain in the UPU, a 144-year old organization of which the United States was a founding member. By remaining in the UPU, the United States retains its important leadership role in the global postal system. Mailers and shippers will see no interruption in service through the critical holiday season and beyond.

For e-Commerce shippers, this likely will translate into an increase in inbound rates to the United States via the international mail system. However, there is an opportunity for an increase in velocity with the launch of CBP’s Type 86 entry pilot which will allow Kesco to electronically process inbound customs clearances of low-value shipments, speeding the parcels through the mail system to waiting recipients.

Kesco Customs Solutions offering electronic informal de minimis clearances for e-Commerce sellers

Shipments valued at $800 or less are considered de minimis and were previously released one of two ways. First, was on the manifest and this how express couriers with small, low value packages release and keep them moving through their system. The second was for customs brokers to present an entry to Customs in the port where the cargo has arrived through a manual process, delaying what is supposed to be an expeditious move through courier or mail.

CBP has now provided ways for customs brokers like Kesco Customs Solutions to file an electronic entry for these low-value e-Commerce shipments, keeping them moving without delay and ensuring committed delivery times remain on schedule for on-line retailers and sellers.

The “type 86” entry works like any other entry that we would file – except it contains the data elements required to release this low value shipment which differ somewhat from a regular formal or informal entry type that requires HTS numbers, manufacturer ID’s and Participating Government Agency (PGA) information.

Per the Federal Register notice, the required elements are:

An entry type ‘‘86’’ requires the owner, purchaser, or customs broker

(1) The bill of lading or the air waybill number;

(2) Entry number;
(3) Planned port of entry;
(4) Shipper name, address, and country

(5) Consignee name and address;
(6) Country of origin;
(7) Quantity;
(8) Fair retail value in the country of shipment
(9) 10-digit HTSUS number;

(10) IOR number of the owner purchaser, or broker when designated by a consignee (conditional) upon whether or not there is PGA data to be submitted.

Kesco Customs Solutions is proud to announce that our software provider has put into production the required software changes for us to file Type 86 entries on behalf of importers. For more information, contact Kesco Customs Solutions today.

China 301 increase delayed by two weeks

October 1st carries tremendous cultural significance in China, and this year the country is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. Perhaps with an eye to this, plus in response to China’s awarding of the first exclusions to US products from their additional import duties, President Trump announced a delay from October 1st to October 15th in the planned increase of Section 301 duties on the items on lists 1, 2 and 3. Scheduled to increase by 5% from 25% to a planned 30%, the President announced his delay on Twitter on Thursday evening.

For US importers, this temporary stay should likely be seen as just that…temporary…until further, more concrete signs appear. Certainly China’s sixteen exclusions to which they added soybeans and pork (in response to a massive reduction in their pig population because of African Swine Flu) could come into play when US and Chinese negotiators sit down again next month in Washington.

The de minimis rules of TFTEA allow eCommerce shipments of $800 or less to get to individual shippers and avoid Section 301 duties.

How using direct shipments from China legally avoids Section 301 duties.

The United States and China are embroiled in a back-and-forth trade war that has seen duties imposed on nearly every tariff number in the book. Regardless of the list, importers whose goods were duty-free or even single-digit duty percentages have seen Section 301 duties imposed on those goods from 10% all the way to now 30% for nearly $250 billion in exports to the United States.

For importers bringing in large commercial shipments that are being broken down and distributed to individual consumers, there is a way to move the distribution process further upstream and take advantage of a regulation that in most cases means the Section 301 duties aren’t an issue.

In 2015, President Obama signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act which, among other things, raised the de minimis on shipments to the United States from $250 to $800 per individual, per day. These shipments when they arrive with an express consignment operator can be declared on a manifest and be released by Customs and Border Protection and unless they’re flagged and held for further review or a physical examination, will move from plane to package delivery truck or Postal Service for delivery to a customer’s doorstep or mailbox.

The reason this avoids the Section 301 duties is that shipments moving through the express consignment process do not present for entry using the regular formal entry process – thereby avoiding the declaration of the additional HTS and payment of those duties.

Among other things, this means avoiding dramatic increases to continuous bond limits of liability and the underwriting, financials and additional guarantee instruments that would elsewise be required.

At Kesco Logistics, our eCommerce solution affords companies looking to direct ship consignments valued at $800 or less per day a vehicle to do so legally, efficiently and cost-effectively. For more information on how to ship your eCommerce orders to consignees and legally avoid paying Section 301 trade remedy duties, contact us today.

US announces 5% across the board increase to Section 301 duties for China.

Importers who had previously been paying 25% in additional duties for Lists 1, 2 and 3 will find themselves paying 30% beginning October 1, 2019. In the increasingly tit-for-tat trade war between the United States and China, on Friday morning Beijing increased the duty on $75 billion in American exports to their country. The increases, set to match the American September 1st and December 15th dates, increase duties between 5 and 10% on a wide list of products. For automotive manufacturers, however, December 15th is when China restores a 25% duty on imported automobiles.

The President and his economic advisors met throughout the day prior to departing for the G7 meetings in France and at the end of the day announced the actions that would be taken. By the end of the day Friday, a statement was posted on the USTR’s website and publication in the Federal Register will happen most likely next week.

The changes that were announced were:

  • Lists 1, 2 and 3 on which 25% additional Section 301 duties were being collected will increase by 5% to now 30% on October 1, 2019.
  • Lists 4A and 4B, slated to collect 10% additional duty when they become effective on September 1 and December 15, respectively, will be increased by 5% to now 15% with the same dates of imposition.

Importers and exporters are asking themselves what the ceiling could be for these duties in both countries. The honest answer is that we don’t know. What traders should be concerned and be vigilant for are non-tariff barriers, or restrictions that make it more difficult for products to get to market for additional safety checks, declarations to government agencies or delays in obtaining customs releases in one or both countries.

Kesco understands that this fluid situation is causing commercial challenges for our customers and are working with our overseas partners and our Kesco Customs Solutions teams to do our best to help keep everyone informed and their goods moving through their supply chains.

Importers will be required to provide additional information to customs brokers under new regulations proposed by Customs.

CBP proposes new regulations for importer verification by brokers.

CBP looks to customs brokers as their front-line partner for, in their words, “facilitating legitimate trade.” Brokers file more than 96% of the entries the agency processes for admissibility decisions. As the agency looks to ratchet up enforcement and interdiction of drugs, opioids, intellectual property rights (IPR) violations and duty avoidance for antidumping and other trade remedy actions, they have proposed new regulations for brokers that would see them collecting additional information during the on-boarding process for not only the new importer with whom they are working, but also the individual granting that authority through a power of attorney.

Published for notice and comment in the Federal Register on August 14, 2019, with a deadline of October 15, 2019, the agency has offered as a sample of proposed changes the following:


At the time the POA is obtained by the broker, the broker must collect, at a minimum, the following information from the client, if applicable:

(1) The client’s name;

(2) For a client who is an individual, the client’s date of birth;Start Printed Page 40305

(3) For a client that is a partnership, corporation, or association, the grantor’s date of birth;

(4) For a client that is a partnership, corporation, or association, the client’s trade or fictitious names;

(5) The address of the client’s physical location (for a client that is a partnership, corporation, or association, the physical location would be the client’s headquarters) and telephone number;

(6) The client’s email address and business website;

(7) A copy of the grantor’s unexpired government-issued photo identification;

(8) The client’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) number, employer identification number (EIN), or importer of record (IOR) number;

(9) The client’s publicly available business identification number (e.g., Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, etc.);

(10) A recent credit report;

(11) A copy of the client’s business registration and license with state authorities; and

(12) The grantor’s authorization to execute power of attorney on behalf of client.


When the agency has reviewed and adjudicated the comments and issued their final changes, Kesco will update and advise importers of the additional data collection which will be undertaken and cite the relevant regulations. We are aware that customs brokers are comparison shopped and have many a time had a conversation where a sentence began with the phrase, “Well, my other broker…”

At Kesco, we are committed to working with importers to facilitate the importation of their cargo into the United States and our responsibility for the security and admissibility of that cargo also means adhering to the regulations which some may find onerous and intrusive but are still required.