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On July 14, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued a request for a range of additional factual information in connection with the agency’s ongoing circumvention inquiries into solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam that employ inputs from mainland China.[1]  The deadline to respond is July 21st.

In the July 14 memorandum, Commerce seeks information about the:  (1) amount of investment necessary to construct and start-up certain facilities, (2) non-financial barriers (e.g., access to inputs, qualified technical employees, technologies, research and development, etc.) that companies typically face to establish and begin certain operations, and (3) research and development (“R&D”) expenses associated with conducting certain operations.  These types of facilities/operations involved in:

  • refining silicon into solar-grade polysilicon,
  • producing ingots from solar-grade polysilicon,
  • producing wafers from solar-grade ingots,
  • producing solar cells from wafers,
  • producing solar modules from solar cells, and
  • the same operations and products as foreign producers and exporters responding to Commerce’s solar circumvention inquiries. 


Continue Reading Commerce Requests Factual Information in Solar Circumvention Inquiries on Level of Investment, Non-Financial Barriers, and Research and Development Expenses

On July 1, 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) issued proposed rules implementing President Biden’s emergency declaration to provide temporary tariff relief on certain imports of solar cells and modules from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam.[1] Commerce has provided the public with a 30-day period to comment on the proposed rules.

If enacted

Importers of merchandise into the United States must use “reasonable care” in the importation process, which includes providing accurate and complete information necessary for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to process and release the merchandise into the United States.[1]  Importers who fail to take this obligation seriously do so at their peril, because catching importer mistakes that result in duty underpayments is an enforcement priority for CBP.  If CBP determines that an importer has failed to exercise reasonable care, CBP may impose substantial civil penalties, even if an error was unintentional.[2]  However, where importers discover their own import compliance errors before CBP does, they may significantly reduce their exposure to penalties by proactively and voluntarily disclosing such errors to CBP with a “prior disclosure.”  This article summarizes the fundamentals of a prior disclosure, and reports on recent efforts by CBP to standardize prior disclosure practices across U.S. ports of entry.

Prior Disclosure Fundamentals

CBP encourages importers to file prior disclosures,[3] and it often makes sense for an importer to do so.  The statutes, regulations and procedures that govern the importation of merchandise into the United States are complex and constantly changing, such that even the most experienced and vigilant importers make mistakes.  A prior disclosure allows an importer to disclose its violations of Customs laws and regulations to CBP and pay any unpaid duties or fees owed.  In exchange, the importer limits exposure to otherwise applicable penalties, by limiting the penalty to the interest owed.  CBP benefits as well, receiving prompt payment of duties owed (plus interest) without using internal resources to conduct an investigation of the reported violations and enforce a penalty order. 

Continue Reading Voluntary Disclosures to CBP: What Importers Need to Know About the Changing Landscape