US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Essential Guide for Importers & Amazon Sellers

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US-China Trade War

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.

Now we are facing the prospect of a decade-long trade war, that will possibly mark the end of an era. Given that the United States is our main market, in terms of users, the trade war has a severe impact on our business too.

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?
  • What does this mean for US importers?
  • Will China or the US win the trade war?

The trade war also comes with some unintended consequences, that have the potential to backfire massively. Continue reading US-China Trade War Tariffs: An Essential Guide for Importers & Amazon Sellers

CPSIA When Importing Children’s Products from China to the USA

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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
  • ASTM Standards
  • 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.

Before you can issue a Children’s Product Certificate, you need to have your product tested. The CPSIA regulates various aspects of children’s products, including substances, labeling, flammability, durability, and physical proportions. Continue reading CPSIA When Importing Children’s Products from China to the USA

Customs & Taxes When Importing from China: US, EU, Australia & Canada

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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.

  • United States
  • European Union
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom

Continue reading Customs & Taxes When Importing from China: US, EU, Australia & Canada

Importing from China to the United States: A Complete Guide

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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:

a. CPSIA: This is a framework regulation, which applies to (at least so far) to toys and other children’s products. The definition of a Children’s product is, currently, any product that is marketed as appropriate for children aged 12 or younger. Continue reading Importing from China to the United States: A Complete Guide

How to Start a US Company to Import & Sell on Amazon.com

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John Gordon

It’s increasingly common that ecommerce companies in Europe and the Asia Pacific not only want to sell cross border to the US – but also sell within the country.

By incorporating in the United States, you can import and locally distribute products, for example via an Amazon fulfillment center (FBA) – even if you are based overseas.

In this article, John Gordon, founder of USA Corporate Services, explains what foreign ecommerce companies must know about the following:

  • LLC or Inc?
  • EIN Numbers
  • Incorporation fees
  • Required documentation
  • 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.

Since that time, we have leveraged our knowledge and experience to focus on helping foreign firms and entrepreneurs set up businesses in the US. Continue reading How to Start a US Company to Import & Sell on Amazon.com

Patent Search When Importing Products from Asia: By John Goodhue

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john goodhue patent lawyer

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.

I also have purchased the Chinaimportal Starter Package myself and believe it has a wealth of information.

I also want to make clear that although I am providing valuable legal information, this should not be construed as legal advice.

Legal advice should only be provided to you by an appropriate attorney in the relevant jurisdiction after being apprised of the specific facts of your situation. Continue reading Patent Search When Importing Products from Asia: By John Goodhue

Electrical Safety Standards For US Importers: By Joey Kwok of CMA Testing

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electrical safety

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.

These things are complex, but absolutely essential.

Luckily, we have worked with Joey Kwok Deputy Manager of CMA Testing in Hong Kong, and a leading expert on US electronic product regulations.

Notice: Be sure to read this one at least two or three times, and feel free to ask questions in the comment section below.

Joey, please tell us a bit about what you do at CMA Testing in Hong Kong

CMA Testing, is a well-known third party assurance body with rapid global expansion, specializes in testing, inspection and certification services.

Our worldwide networks have been spreading out rapidly to Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America.

Our compliance services cover toys, consumer electronics and electrical products, textiles & garments, materials, chemicals, food & food contact articles, furniture, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, environmental and more. Continue reading Electrical Safety Standards For US Importers: By Joey Kwok of CMA Testing

Product Labeling Regulations in the US, EU and Australia

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About to import products from China or elsewhere in Asia? Then you need to ensure that the products are properly labeled.

In this article, we explain what every importer must know about labeling requirements in the EU, US and Australia.

We also explain why you cannot rely on your manufacturer to ensure compliance on your behalf. In fact, most of them don’t even know how products must be labeled in your market.

Keep reading, to ensure that your products are not seized by the customs authorities!

What is ‘Product Labeling Requirements’?

Most countries have legal requirements for how a product shall be labeled. A label can, for example, inform the customer about the following:

  • The manufacturing country
  • If the product meets certain legal safety requirements (i.e., compliance marks)
  • Size, material and other general product information
  • Warning labels and user instructions

Some labeling requirements apply to all, or a wide range of, product categories.

For example, all products in the US must be labelled with the country of origin (i.e., Made in China). In the European Union, many products must be CE marked.

Other labeling requirements apply to specific products. Examples include toys, electronics and textiles – each with their own set of unique labeling requirements.

Notice that labeling requirements are usually just one of many requirements that importers must fulfil to ensure compliance with certain regulations.

In addition, you may need to keep track of the following:

Technical Compliance: This means that the product is manufactured according to certain technical standards, or substance restrictions. The product is therefore able to pass the necessary tests.

Documents Requirements: The Importer is required to create and store a set of documents. Such documents may include circuit diagrams, component lists, design drawings and risk assessments.

It is important to underline that this article does not include information above the two points above. Continue reading Product Labeling Regulations in the US, EU and Australia

FDA Certification & Labels When Importing from China: A Complete Guide

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Planning to import kitchen utensils, food products or medical devices from China, and sell in the United States? Then you need to ensure compliance with all mandatory FDA administered regulations.

In this comprehensive guide to FDA regulations and requirements for importers, you will learn what you must know about FDA labeling requirements, premarket approvals, documentation and lab testing.

In addition, you will also learn how Amazon.com is enforcing FDA regulations, such as 21 CFR, and why you should not rely on your manufacturer in China to manage the process for you.

Which products are regulated by the FDA?

FDA, standing for the Food and Drug Administration, is a government agency, not a standard or regulation in itself. The FDA administers regulations that affect various product categories.

a. Food Contact Materials / Kitchen Utensils

The FDA administers 21 CFR, which regulates all types of materials made to be in contact with food and beverages.

21 CFR covers plastics, ceramics, coatings, glass and metal used in both food packaging and all types of kitchen utensils.

For example, food packaging and kitchen utensils may not contain toxic or harmful chemicals and heavy metals – or affect the taste and smell of the food or beverage.

21 CFR mainly concerns the substances used in kitchen utensils (both electrical and non-electrical) and food packaging. Continue reading FDA Certification & Labels When Importing from China: A Complete Guide

Product Regulations in the United States: A Beginner’s Guide

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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

In the European Union, there are mandatory directive and EN standards for hundreds of different products. Some complain that the EU is too heavy handed, and force unnecessary regulation on its member states.

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.

But if you’re just starting out, and don’t happen to have a team of lawyers and engineers by your side, it’s a lot more complicated. That, and much more, will be covered in this guide. Continue reading Product Regulations in the United States: A Beginner’s Guide