Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Enhanced Customs Bonds, It May Be Time To Cut Bait

In 2006, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) adopted the so-called "Enhanced Bonding Requirements" (EBR) to require higher continuous entry bonds for importers of shrimp subject to antidumping orders.  Instead of protecting the US Treasury (which was its claimed purpose), the EBR cost USTR and DOJ time, money, and effort to defend an initiative that has been found to violate US law and its WTO commitments (a rare feat).   

On October 21, 2010, the US Court of International Trade (CIT) took a decisive step to grant relief to the importers. In National Fisheries, the CIT ordered CBP to cancel the plaintiffs' bonds issued using the EBR. The CIT issued the order even though it recognized that by doing so:

likely would moot any appeal by the United States in the particular circumstances of this case

Wow.  It's not often that a court orders a party, let alone the Federal Government, to take actions that would deprive them of the right to appeal the court's decision.  The Court gave CBP a sliver of hope by giving it 60 days to convince the Court to modify the injunction it just issued (good luck with that) or get a stay from the Federal Circuit.  It may be time to cut bait and let CBP's hope to be able to (maybe) one day collect under the EBR bonds swim away.

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