Industry News

Customs & Compliance Update: Section 301, Merchandise Processing Fee Increases, New Trade Post Nominations

By August 16, 2021 No Comments

Section 301 News

The few remaining exclusions to the Section 301 tariffs for China origin goods are scheduled to expire at the end of September. All of the remaining exclusion sets cover products related to COVID relief and cover a very limited list of products. The provisional numbers assigned to the three sets are 9903.88.63, 9903.88.64 and 9903.88.65. There have been no announced plans to extend these exclusions but the surge in COVID cases fueled by the Delta variant could change that.

In other 301 news, the USCIT case regarding the legality of Rounds 3 and 4 of the additional tariffs continues to move forward. Currently, the court is weighing the mechanism for protecting the plaintiffs ability to obtain refunds on liquidated entries, should they prevail in the case.

The White House has been under pressure from industry groups and some members of Congress to either reinstate the expired exclusions or develop a process to accept new exclusion applications. The Endless Frontier Act (S.1260) includes provisions to require the USTR to take action on both fronts. Calls to end the Section 301 tariffs on China origin goods do not appear to have the required support, and some groups are urging the White House to take more action to require China to meet all obligations included in the Phase 1 agreement. This agreement suspended implementation of additional tariffs for goods listed under Round 4B, but required a certain level of purchases by China on select US products.

Should a new application process for exclusions be adopted, it will hopefully be more transparent and less restrictive for importers bringing in similar products. Many of the exclusion granted previously had the appearance of benefiting only certain importers, thus creating an uneven playing field.


Increased Charges for the Merchandise Processing Fee to start on Oct 1, 2021.

The minimum and maximum charges for the Merchandise Processing Fee will be increased for inflation in FY 2022. Beginning October 1, 2021, the new minimum will be $27.75 and the maximum fee increases to $538.40. This is an increase from the current $27.23 and $528.33 collected currently, but the actual rate remains at 0.3464%.  The fee Customs charges for an informal entry will also increase from $2.18 to $2.22 on the same date.

The Harbor Maintenance Fee has no minimum or maximum and the rate will remain at 0.125% for 2022. A laundry list of other cargo related fees, mostly associated with carrier arrivals, and permitting fees charged to Customs Brokers will also see an increase.


New Trade Post Nominations

President Biden has indicated his intention to make two more nominations to the US Trade Representatives Office (USTR). Maria Luisa Pagan, a deputy general counsel to the USTR, will be nominated as deputy US Trade Representative and ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO). This nomination would end a lengthy gap where the US had not filled the post of ambassador to the WTO.

Christopher Wilson, a 20-year-veteran of the USTR,  will be nominated as the USTR’s chief innovation and intellectual property negotiator. Mr. Wilson previously held a number of USTR positions including deputy assistant for innovation and intellectual property.

A statement released by USTR Katherine Tai stated that the nominees, “have valuable experience that is needed at USTR during a critical moment for the country and the world.”



Sam McClure, LCB

Director of Compliance & Customs Services


Need a refresher on tariff rounds and exclusions?

CVI Exclusion Guide 2020

CVI has a free, complete guide to EVERYTHING you need to know for tariff rounds and exclusions, including:

  • HTS Code
  • Publish Dates
  • Exclusion provision number per set list and round
  • Effective & Extended Expiration Dates

The CVI Exclusion Guide 2020 provides you with a link to original USTR exclusion announcements with a breakdown of each excluded product.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We will be regularly updating this document via our website. Check it out here!


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Meet one of CVI’s Customs Brokerage & Compliance experts, Sam McClure:

Sam serves as Director, Compliance and Customs Services for CVI. He serves as CVI’s corporate compliance officer and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of our Customs related services, including growth.

Sam started his career in 1977 with Waters Shipping Company in Charlotte, NC. He began as a document runner, soon becoming a leader in operations and customer service for the branch. Sam, along with Linda Masten, founded Central Carolina Shipping Inc. in 1983 as an independent Customs Brokerage firm where he served as Vice President for 26 years. Sam and Linda grew Central Carolina into a successful and highly respected member of the Carolinas trade community. When Charlotte opened their local chapter of the IFFCBA Sam was part of the organizing group and he headed the Customs committee for several years. Sam obtained his Customs Brokers License in 1984 and remained with Central Carolina until the company was acquired by CVI in 2009.

At CVI, Sam has held several positions in both the operations and sales departments. As an expert in U.S. Customs regulations, Sam is often called upon on to provide guidance to importers on Customs compliance issues. He makes regular presentations on matters related to importation and broader regulatory compliance.

– Sam McClure, LCB, Director of Compliance & Customs Services, CVI
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