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Welke Customs Brokers USA to Sponsor Session on "Doing Business with Cuba"

Welke Customs Brokers USA will sponsor an educational forum, "Doing Business with Cuba: The Landscape Today and Expectations," on Wednesday, January 27, 2016, 10:00 a.m. - 12 noon, at the Genesee County Economic Development Center Innovation Zone, 99 Medtech Drive, Batavia, NY 14020 (across the street from GCC). The event, co-sponsored by Greater Rochester Enterprise, Genesee County Economic Development Center and World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, is free and open to companies with interest in exporting to Cuba.


Welke Customs Brokers Clears Santa's U.S. and Canadian Customs Entries

Damon Piatek, President and CEO of Welke Customs Brokers USA, announced today that Welke has cleared Santa Claus' imports into the U.S. as he brings presents into the country as part of the time-honored Christmas Eve tradition. Piatek stressed Santa's thorough understanding of import and export regulations focused on compliance. Welke Customs Brokers, operating in both the U.S. and Canada, facilitates imports through all ports in both nations.

Christopher Scalisi Joins the Welke Customs Brokers USA Team

Damon Piatek, president and CEO of Welke Customs Brokers USA, announced today that Welke has hired Christopher J. Scalisi as Global Trade Advisor. With over 20 years' experience in business development and sales and 12 years working in international trade, Chris has developed and implemented international trade and economic develop programs with the Consulate General of Canada, Erie County Industrial Development Agency, and World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara. At Welke, Chris will use his experience to build and develop new clientele for Welke's international, U.S. Customs and consulting services.


Long Road Ahead for Trans-Pacific Partnership

On Thursday, the long-awaited text of the landmark trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was released to the public for the first time. While there's a great deal of information to unearth, analyze and react to, it's important to keep in mind that there is a significantly long road ahead for ratification of the deal. The text of the document, itself, still has to be translated into the languages of the signatories, and the deal must also still be ratified by lawmakers in each member country. In some of the countries involved, TPP needs to undergo a legal review. 


Welke Customs Brokers Canadian Market Entry Seminar - 10/8

Welke Customs Brokers and Celebrezze Law will host a seminar on Canadian market entry on Thursday, October 8, "Doing Business in Southern Ontario/Golden Horseshoe - Importing, Exporting and Understanding the Landscape," for Western New York companies. The seminar, perfect small to mid-sized manufacturers and distributors, offers free registration, and will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Welke Customs Brokers USA offices, 36 Delaware Street in the City of Tonawanda (parking behind building). Light refreshments will be provided.

Welke Announces Cargo Insurance for U.S. and Canadian Shippers

For both U.S. and Canadian customers, Welke Customs Brokers offers cargo insurance to protect against the risk of loss or damage to freight in transit due to heavy weather, theft and rough handling. It is estimated that 30% of all freight damage in transit is unavoidable, and for shippers, the risks of transportation cargo are yours - not your carrier's.

With the significant need for protection, Welke has worked closely with our insurance partners, Roanoke Trade International (U.S.) andThe CG&B Group (Canada), to create a program to protect your financial interests. 

When Safeguarding Your Business - Don't Forget About Customs Audits

As business owners, we spend a good amount of time and energy safeguarding our businesses. Every year, we bring in professionals to audit our operations related to human resources, finances and employee safety among other areas, to ensure that we're on the up-and-up, our people and our processes are taken care of and, if inspected at any point, we can avoid penalties. It's a part of responsibly running a business.

If you're an importer, there's a great deal of merit in taking the same precautions in regards to your import processes. Just as in the areas of your business listed above, unless you have dedicated expertise in those disciplines, it is unlikely that you'll be able to keep up with the ever-changing Customs regulatory environment and free trade opportunities. 

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Makes Individuals Potentially Liable for Import Infractions

On Tuesday (May 26), the U.S. Supreme Courtpassed on reviewing a bid by the president of Trek Leather Inc. that had requested to undo a Federal Circuit ruling holding him personally responsible for penalties levied against his company for import violations. The closely-watched ruling is noteworthy, precedent-setting news in the import world.

The suit stems from shipments in 2004, in which Trek imported dozens of men's suits but allegedly failed to disclose the costs of fabric and other materials in their entry documents - resulting in Trek paying lower duties for the imports.

Welke's Piatek to Participate in Buffalo Business First Roundtable

Welke Customs Brokers USA President & CEO Damon Piatek will participate in an industry roundtable sponsored by Buffalo Business First on Thursday, May 7 on various cross border topics. The roundtable, hosted by Buffalo law firm Hodgson Russ, features a number of expert panelists from various cross-border industries throughout the Buffalo Niagara region.

Welke Customs Brokers and COSE Canadian Market Entry Seminar - 4/30

Welke Customs Brokers and the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) will host a seminar on April 30 on Canadian market entry for Northeast Ohio companies, "Doing Business in Southern Ontario/Golden Horseshoe - Importing, Exporting and Understanding the Landscape." The seminar, open to COSE members, will be held from 10 a.m. to noon at the COSE offices, 1240 E. Huron Street, Cleveland.

Topics to be covered (including open Q&A) are: NAFTA and CanAm Trade, U.S. and Canadian Customs Compliance, the Canadian Economic Environment and Target Industries, and Canadian Business Culture. Expert panelists include:

CWT Headshot - color

Nicholas Brenie

Damon Piatek
President & CEO
Welke Customs Brokers USA

Craig Turner
Momentum Public Affairs LLC

Nicholas Brenie
Business Development Associate
Welke Customs Brokers

Please join us for a panel discussion on how to make your entry into the rapidly-growing Canadian market a reality. For more information, or to register, visit COSE's website.

Operational vs. Transactional Customs Brokers

U.S. and Canadian Customs are an ever-changing landscape of regulations, rules and relationships. Importers and exporters must always be in-the-know on international trade policies as they engage in new markets and growth opportunities. It's a responsibility that must never be taken lightly.

But while the largest manufacturers and distributors have the wherewithal to maintain an in-house team to handle that responsibility, for small and medium-sized shippers looking to grow, you might not be quite to that level yet. Instead, you engage a Customs broker to walk you through the process and trust that they're keeping your entries on the up-and-up.

Peace Bridge Capital Improvement Plan Moving Forward

Q&A with Damon Piatek, President & CEO of Welke Customs Brokers USA

There are some important updates related to the Peace Bridge Authority's capital improvement plan that were recently announced. What can you tell us about this news?

This is very exciting news in my opinion. As you may know, the Peace Bridge will turn 88-years-old this year; however, the bridge remains in solid structural condition. It is definitely a safe crossing, just a bit out of date.

What the Peace Bridge Authority has proposed is a series of on-plaza improvements to make the crossing work more efficiently. Let's call it a "makeover" of sorts to the bridge and some plaza areas.

The projects are part of a $167 million capital plan that includes widening the Canadian plaza bridge approach to four lanes, upgraded radiation portal monitors, and also the conducting of a full re-decking of the bridge.

Address Import Compliance to Avoid Penalties, Spur Business Growth

This Thursday, I'll be speaking as part of a panel at World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara's (WTCBN) seminar on Import Compliance. Special thanks to Erin Cole, president of WTCBN, for inviting me to participate.

If you've been following this blog, or have caught any of my presentations in Buffalo, Cleveland, or recently at this month's CoffeeFest in Atlanta, you'll know that customs compliance is a key topic of discussion for Welke Customs Brokers, both our U.S. and Canadian operations. That's because if you're an importer into either country, it should be a key topic of yours, as well.

Welke's Damon Piatek to Speak at World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara's Compliance Seminar

Welke Customs Brokers USA President & CEO will be the guest speaker at the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara's (WTCBN) "Import Compliance Event" on Thursday, February 19, 8-10 a.m. at Salvatore's Garden Place Hotel, 6615 Transit Road in Williamsville.

Piatek will be speaking on various trade topics, including Customs Trade Transformation, compliance, benefits of trade agreements, and eliminating risk in import and export procedures. Attendees will also receive important information about ACE - Automated Commercial Environment - from with Peter Russell of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP), Program Manager, ACE Communications.

New Canadian Food Safety Policy will Impact U.S. Exporters

On January 1, 2015, new regulations regarding the importing of food into Canada went into effect, with additional requirements later this year and in 2016. These new regulations will have a significant impact on U.S. companies exporting food to Canada, and should be understood closely.

Specifically, Canada has introduced new licensing requirements for Canadian food manufacturers and importers, adding a layer of regulation that previously did not exist. Food manufacturers exporting to Canada, now abiding by the requirements of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, will now have to include all of the CFIA requirements for the Canadian license, as well. In addition, U.S. exporters to Canada must have a fixed Canadian location, or Canadian manufacturing standards must be equaled by the country of origin's own standards, which will be difficult to enforce.

Happy New Year! - 2015 at the Buffalo Niagara Border

From a number of perspectives, 2015 will be an interesting one at the border in Buffalo Niagara. Here's a quick overview:

First, we're looking forward to seeing how the exchange rate impacts border travel, particularly those Canadians coming across our bridges into WNY to shop and attend sporting and cultural events. Many global financial institutions are forecasting the Loonie to see a slow decline in 2015, with the exchange reducing to the 81-84 cent range. Several economic factors, including the strengthening of the U.S. dollar and global oil prices, are driving this decline in the Canadian dollar. Obviously, this will impact Canadian traveler spending power, so it's something to watch closely.

CBSA Elimination of GPT Kicks in January 1

In September, 2014, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) released a statement that, effective January 1, 2015, the Canadian government has eliminated the General Preferential Tariff (GPT) for 72 countries with which Canada has an import relationship.

The GPT was established in the 1970s to benefit developing countries, many of which have become "richer" over the years. Some of these Canadian trade partners include China, South Korea, Thailand, Brazil, Hong Kong, India and Turkey. GPT rate is lower than the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) rate, and has provided importers a cost advantage when sourcing product from certain countries.

With the exception of imports from countries with which Canada has a better trade agreement than the GPT (e.g. Mexico, which currently falls under GPT, but NAFTA supersedes), importers can expect an increase in duty on products imported from those 72 countries. For example, a leather handbag originating in China currently has a 7% duty rate under GPT - in 2015 this same handbag will have a 10% duty rate under MFN (same rate as, say, Italy or France). The duty increase varies from product to product, as well, as some imported products are currently discounted considerably under GPT.

The most critical step for Canadian importers to take is make sure you have a firm understanding of your supply chain and, if the countries from which you're importing are on the list, know what the impacts will be. Anticipate some increased costs on your imports, and be prepared to evaluate new sources in case those increases are pervasive.

We can help! If you need assistance in analyzing your supply chain and understanding how the GPT elimination will affect you, contact Welke.

Valid v. Invalid vs. Defective NAFTA Certificate of Origin

The New Year is almost upon us which means it's time for importers to update their NAFTA certificate of origin. Welke Customs Brokers is currently securing blanket NAFTA certificate of origin for calendar year 2015.

It is important to note that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently issued a notice to the trade community which clarifies a valid NAFTA certificate of origin versus an invalid or defective NAFTA certificate of origin. CBP provides clarification at cbp.gov:

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is valid if it:

  1. Lists the good in question
  2. Covers the period in question
  3. Includes the exporter's or his agent's signature in block 11a "Authorized Signature"
  4. Was in the importer's possession at the time of the claim, as demonstrated by 1) a block 11e "Authorized Signature" date prior to the date of the preference claim, and 2) submission upon request of a CBP official

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is invalid if it does not meet the aforementioned requirements.

A NAFTA Certificate of Origin is defective—and thus may be remedied in accordance with 19 CFR 181.22(c)—if, while meeting the conditions of a "Valid NAFTA Certificate of Origin," above, contains other errors or omissions. These include, but are not limited to the following: illegibility, misclassification, incorrect or missing preference criteria, signature by an individual who cannot legally bind the company, typed or stamped signature, 3rd-country goods (in addition to NAFTA goods), Net Cost field error, single entry Certificate without an invoice or other unique reference numbers, or other similar errors or omissions.

In addition to defining the aforementioned terms, NAFTA preference will be denied if the importer does not possess a valid NAFTA Certificate of Origin at the time of the preference claim.

As you prepare for 2015, please feel free to contact your Welke client service representative at 716-995-2900 if you have questions.

Buffalo Niagara International Trade Gateway - creating a globally-known logistics center

This past Sunday (11/30), the Buffalo Niagara International Trade Gateway Organization (ITGO) was highlighted in the Buffalo News in the group's first public outreach since becoming its own organization earlier this year. ITGO, as the article states, is a volunteer-driven organization created to forward the logistics and trade advantages the Buffalo Niagara region has to offer - in particular, our geographic location in the middle of the largest U.S. and Canadian markets. As president and CEO of Welke Customs Brokers USA, I am proud to sit on the Board of ITGO and chair its CanAm and International Trade Committee.

While the article is about ITGO's official formation, which happened in June, in truth over 40 stakeholders representing the private, public and academic sectors have been working for the past four years to make it a reality. The common goal that all of us have centered around is growing the logistics industry in Western New York by (1) highlighting globally our regional capabilities; (2) strengthening our logistics infrastructure; and (3) building and maintaining key relationships in international trade. We believe that if we are successful in accomplishing these things, the Buffalo Niagara region will become a globally-known center for international trade.

With ITGO now public, the group's volunteers are engaged in a number of immediate strategic initiatives that are intended to bring more stakeholders to the table, including strengthening its relationship with the Port of New York and New Jersey, and aggressive outreach to representatives from the logistics industry in Canada. If you are interested in getting involved, or would like more information on ITGO, please feel free to e-mail me.

- Damon Piatek

Piatek Invited to Present at Coffeefest 2015 in February

Damon Piatek, President and CEO of Welke Customs Brokers USA, will be a featured presenter at the 2015 Coffeefest, an international trade show serving the specialty coffee and gourmet tea industries. Coffeefest will be held in February in Atlanta, GA. The event has been in existence since 1992.

"As suggested by its name, Coffeefest is a celebration of coffee and an opportunity for people to coalesce around the coffee business," said Piatek. "As good a time as that sounds, there are many intricacies in importing coffee into the United States and Canada. We know from experience that a lot of importers across every industry are not necessarily keeping up with changing regulations. Coffeefest will be a good opportunity for us to bring some critical information about coffee importing to industry stakeholders."

Piatek will be presenting on "Customs Trade Transformation," detailing how changes in U.S. Customs policy are affecting importers, and specifically in the coffee industry. The USDA reports that the U.S. imported more than 11.6 million metric tons of coffee beans, grounds and related products in 2013. Imports of green coffee (raw, unroasted beans) to the U.S. in June, 2014 alone valued at over $550,000,000.

For more information on Coffeefest 2015, visit www.coffeefest.com.

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