The key to lower duties could be the commercial invoice

Cathy Cheng, a licensed customs brokerage manager at Laufer Group International, says the rising tariffs on products imported to the US from China have importers looking anywhere and everywhere for a break.

Many, she says, are starting with the commercial invoice, which contains information that determines the tariff number. By deconstructing the commercial invoice listings, importers may be able to find details they’ve previously overlooked—details that will lower their duty.

Cheng suggests that instead of listing all goods in a container under a single category, it could be beneficial now to take the time to list specific categories because different categories have different tariff rates—and some of these may be more cost-efficient for importers.

Another suggestion is to identify products that are manufactured using components from countries other than China. If goods are manufactured in China, this makes no difference. But if importers can prove multiple countries of origin for unassembled goods—in other words, if they can prove goods will be assembled in the US using component parts from other nations—tariffs could be lower.

As a customs brokerage manager, Cathy Cheng works with importers every day, helping them keep up with industry changes and keep track of the new rules and regulations that can impact their business. “At Laufer,” she says, “we always come up with solutions to satisfy everyone—the brokerage team, the sales team, and the customer. To me, that’s what being built different means.”

 

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