I have been an international trade attorney for over twenty years. In that time, I have represented a few thousand companies involved in the importation, exportation, and international transportation of merchandise. I have seen respectful, efficient U.S. Government employees and the most uncaring bureaucrats, importers who care about the law and others who only care how to get around it, and customs brokers who always try to do the right thing and others who you wonder how they ever passed the broker exam and the background check. I have listed the 10 Most Common Misconceptions in International Trade.
I have actually heard intelligent people who are CEOs or General Counsels of their companies say the most surprising things to me over the years.
1. It is ok to bring in up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars into the United States.
2. Dietary supplements that are "all natural" are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and, therefore, can make all kinds of medical claims.
3. The U.S. Government does not care about the value of cargo being exported from the United States because there are no duties, taxes or fees paid to the U.S. Government on exports.
4. If an airlines passenger brings into the United States over $10,000 in cash, the passenger must pay a tax to U.S. Customs or the IRS.
5. If an importer uses a customs broker to file an entry with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and some false information is provided to U.S. Customs, only the customs broker is liable to U.S. Customs, not the importer.
6. No one gets hurt by importing, buying and selling counterfeit merchandise.
7. If some food product is marked with "Made in America" it must be good, but if it is marked "Made in China" then it must be bad.
8. If an imported item is marked "Made in Vietnam" or "Made in Malaysia" or "Made in America" then if really must have been manufactured or produced in the identified country, and no other.
9. Since it is illegal to sell military items to places such as North Korea and Iran, if a U.S. company ships those items to a friendly country such as Australia or England, and the buyer in those countries then re-export them to North Korea or Iran, the U.S. company has done nothing wrong.
10. A product manufactured in India, transported to Mexico, and then imported into the United States from Mexico should enter duty free under NAFTA because Mexico and the United States are members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).