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Like many others, I assumed the US-China trade war would be a short affair. I envisioned some deal involving mutual trade concessions taking place in a matter of weeks.
How wrong I was.
I’m not here to discuss which side is morally right or wrong. But I do have an obligation to share my views of how the US-China trade war may impact small businesses in the US, importing from China.
Why the trade war could massively benefit Chinese sellers
Which products are affected by the new tariffs?
Which products are not affected by the new tariffs?
CPSIA compliance is mandatory when importing and selling all toys and children’s products in the United States. In this guide, you will learn what both US and foreign importers must know about ensuring CPSIA compliance when buying products from China and other countries in Asia.
What is CPSIA?
CPSIA Regulated Products
CPSIA Tracking labels
CPSIA Lab Testing
Children’s Product Certificate (CPC)
Consumer Registration Cards
Amazon and CPSIA compliance
What is CPSIA?
The CPSIA regulates various aspects of a product. However, all children’s products are subject to the following:
1. All children’s products must be compliant with all relevant safety regulations
2. All children’s products must be tested by a CPSC approved laboratory (there are certain exceptions)
3. All children’s products must have a tracking label attached to the product and/or the product packaging
But that’s not all. The importer shall also issue a Children’s Product Certificate, which is a document stating that the imported product is compliant with the relevant regulations. Click here for sample templates.
Understanding import duties, port charges, VAT and other taxes is crucial when importing products from China, especially in a time when trade tensions are at an all-time high. However, each country or market have its own import duty rates and customs value calculation methods.
In this article, we explain what every Importer must know about import duties, customs valuation methods, and other taxes when importing products to the following countries and regions.
About to import products from China to the United States? Then keep reading! In this guide, we explain what US-based businesses must know, before buying consumer goods from trading companies and manufacturers in China, and other Asian countries.
This article explains what startups and small businesses must know about US product regulations, labelling requirements, and transportation restrictions.
In addition, we also give you an introduction to customs bonds, customs value calculations, import taxes, and freight costs.
Important update regarding the increased US-China tariffs
As of today, the tariffs on the $200 B goods levied in September 2018, has increased from 10% to 25%. This is also what US President Trump stated when he levied the initial 10% additional tariff on listed products. As trade talks have seemingly stalled, it’s essential for importers worldwide to prepare for what is likely the new normal:
1. All companies importing to the US are affected by the new tariffs, including non-US companies importing as a foreign importer of record
2. The tariffs are not yet expanded to cover most consumer products (e.g. textiles and electronics), although that may come later this year
3. For many product categories, it’s still not an option to simply shift orders to suppliers in other Asian countries – because for most categories there simply are no factories outside of China. Hence, your option is most likely to either pass on the new tariffs so your customers – or not buy products at all.
Is China finished for US importers?
This is the questions on everyone mind today. If you’re buying textiles or furniture, you may want to consider other manufacturing countries at this stage.
However, if you’re importing electronics, watches, fitness equipment – or a range of other products – you’ll quickly find that alternative manufacturers outside of China are either few and far in between, or completely non-existent.
Large companies can, and are, shifting production to other countries, but small businesses cannot afford to set up their own production facilities and must, therefore, rely on existing manufacturing infrastructure to come into place.
For now, many small US importers (and non-US small businesses selling into the US) will either need to absorb the new tariffs or stop importing altogether.
Product Safety Regulations
Importers based in the United States must keep track of two sets of product regulations:
Federal regulations (applicable in all US states)
State regulations (applicable in certain states only)
Let’s start with the first category, as this is what affects everyone. Below follows an overview of relevant government bodies and regulations, in the United States:
In this article, John Gordon, founder of USA Corporate Services, explains what foreign ecommerce companies must know about the following:
LLC or Inc?
How to open a business bank account
Yearly maintenance costs
US taxes (and penalties) for non-resident foreigners
John, please introduce yourself and USA Corporate Services Inc
I’m John Gordon. I started the business now known as USA Corporate Services two years after graduating college. I was working in a low-paid job for a boss I didn’t get along with, and didn’t want to work for another boss ever again.
That was 35 years ago, and although it took several years to really get going, it’s a pleasure to still be here.
Twelve years ago I signed up for the Global Executive MBA program at Columbia Business School and London Business School. This was a very eye-opening experience that taught me more ways to give value to our customers.
Picture that you’ve found an interesting product on Alibaba.com, or at the Canton Fair – only to find out the hard way that the product is actually infringing on an existing patent.
Given the potential consequences, you got to be sure before you order your next ODM product. However, it’s often hard to assess if a products design or function is protected by a patent, and to what extent.
Thus, we decided to ask an expert – John Goodhue, patent attorney at Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C.
John, please introduce yourself and Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C.
My name is John Goodhue, I am a patent attorney at Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C. (“GCO”) in Clive, Iowa USA. GCO is an intellectual property boutique law firm helping clients protect their innovations and providing legal counsel to help avoid infringing the rights of others.
Today, US ecommerce companies and Amazon sellers, import electronics directly from Chinese manufacturers – without even having a basic understanding of product safety requirements and liability.
Electronics are high risk products. Reports of unsafe lithium batteries and chargers are frequent.
A major reason for this is the lack of information on what US electronics importers must do to ensure compliance. Believe it or not, but for many electronic products, there are not even mandatory safety standards.
Hence, many believe that they don’t need to care about compliance when importing power banks, or any widget that comes with an AC adapter.
That is not the case.
If, or when, something goes wrong – you will be liable. If someone is injured, or if property is damaged, you might be looking at millions of dollars in losses. It’s game over.
Instead, Importers and Amazon sellers must rely on ‘voluntary standards’ from UL and ETL, that are ‘de facto’ mandatory. At least for anyone who want to sleep at night.
About to import products to the United States, or sell on Amazon.com? Then you must stay on top of the whole spectrum of mandatory safety standards, labeling, documentation and lab testing requirements.
It’s a heavy topic, but one you need to know inside out – or face the risk of having your goods seized by the US customs, getting your Amazon account shut down – or worse (yes, it can get a lot worse than that).
In this beginners guide to US safety standards and regulations, you will learn what every importer and ecommerce seller must know – including safety standards (both mandatory and non-mandatory), labeling requirements, document requirements and lab testing requirements.
Why product compliance is so complicated for US importers
There’s some truth to that, but what if there was no set of mandatory safety standards for most products? What if Importers had to make a complex regulatory assessment of their own (for which most are not qualified), rather than relying on a clear product compliance framework?
Enter the United States.
For many products, even electronics, there are no mandatory safety standards or directives. Instead, it’s up the Importer to make an assessment and apply ‘the necessary standards and procedures” to ensure that the imported products are safe.
Instead, product standards are developed by private organizations such as UL, ASTM and ANSI.
This is ideal, if you know how to make that assessment.