When importers’ fail to properly declare duties on products subject to trade orders, it harms the U.S. economy.  Failing to properly declare duties costs the U.S. Treasury millions of dollars each year, reducing U.S. manufacturing employment, and undermining U.S. industries’ ability to recover from the injurious effects of unfairly traded imports. As such, enforcement of antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duty orders has become a “priority” trade issue for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), resulting in numerous investigations and penalty assessments, as well as an increasing number of collection actions.

Not every importer that fails to declare does so purposefully, of course. Some may be genuinely unaware that their products are subject to trade orders. In response, CBP has increased its education efforts to ensure that all members of the import community have access to information on the scope of existing orders, and what new orders are coming into effect.

Additionally, CBP recently warned importers to take care not to fall for increasingly common “scam” offers by companies offering to transship goods through third countries, so that they can be imported as products of countries not subject to existing trade orders . The problem for importers is—this is fraud. Merely repackaging, relabeling, or transshipping goods through a third country does not take that product outside the scope of an antidumping or countervailing duty orders. Importers that, unwittingly or not, participate in such schemes not only remain liable for trade duties, but expose their officials and employees to criminal sanctions (including jail time), as well as civil penalties for negligence, gross negligence, and fraud.

When it comes to “avoiding” antidumping and countervailing duties, the old adage applies: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If someone offers to move goods through a third country, repackage them, relabel them, or otherwise provide documentation indicating origin outside of the actual country of manufacture, for your own sake, don’t bite. And better yet, let CBP know.