Even as regulations governing the importation of merchandise have grown more stringent, there remain opportunities to maximize profit and grow business. At Drinker Biddle, we advise clients on how to avail themselves of business opportunities created by various trade agreements, duty preference programs and customs procedures. We also work with them to establish practices that ensure legal compliance and minimize exposure to duties, investigations and penalties.
Our lawyers have advised clients in a number of important import compliance areas, including focused assessments, special duty preference programs, enforcement matters, and prior disclosures. We have worked with a number of Fortune 100 companies coordinating the filing of multibusiness disclosures in order to effectively manage identified compliance risks and mitigate civil penalty exposure. We advise on issues related to valuation and methods of appraisement, tariff classification, and country of origin determinations and marking requirements.
However, our lawyers do more than just render legal advice. Because we appreciate that businesses require knowledgeable, well-trained personnel to abide by trade requirements, we work with clients to develop compliance programs that fit their needs and can be successfully implemented among staff. Importers must exercise reasonable care when they enter, classify and value imported merchandise. Drinker Biddle lawyers work with clients to properly educate their employees and have presented training seminars to educate the in-house professionals responsible for compliance with these laws.
As an example of the breadth and value of our import compliance services, we recently assisted a major household appliance manufacturer with a risk assessment and internal review of its North American import operations, culminating in the submission and perfection of a voluntary prior disclosure with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Utilizing statistical sampling techniques and coordinating the internal review with the company’s finance, procurement and import departments, we were able to utilize source financial data and import records to finalize the five-year disclosure and mitigate potential civil penalty exposure by more than $12 million. We later assisted the company in the development of corrective actions and implementation of enhanced internal controls.
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