How the Grinch is Attempting to Steal Christmas, Hundreds of Goods Likely to Be Impacted When Section 301 Tariffs Expire


The Grinch is up to his nasty tricks again, getting ready to steal Christmas from the Whos down in Whoville who have enjoyed tariff-free imports from China.

Numerous Section 301 tariff exclusions are set to expire on December 31, with nary a peep from the USTR.  This means that importers may be subject to additional duties on their imports from China as early as January 1.

The list contains more than 300 exclusions on various products as well as exclusions for 77 medical products needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please click here to view the complete list of impacted products.

Meanwhile, importers who have been waiting with anticipation for some relief from the Section 301 tariffs won’t have any good news to unwrap Christmas morning either.  Despite continued interest from the private sector and Congress, the USTR has been “non-responsive” to questions regarding the status of the Section 301 report, which was expected to be completed this fall, and subsequently pushed out to year end.  We are now hearing reports that the USTR won’t issue the report until Q1 2024.

Will the USTR discover the true meaning of Christmas before the end of the year and extend the current tariff exclusions?  While there has been some speculation about another extension and/or additions or removals, nothing has been confirmed at this time.  We’ll just have to wait for the end of the movie to see if her heart really will grow three sizes in one day.

Feds Suspend Rail Operations in Texas Amid Migrant Surge


U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has temporarily suspended all rail operations in Eagle Pass and El Paso, Texas after observing a surge in the smuggling of migrants across the Southern Border by train, throwing yet another kink into supply chains.

CBP said in a statement on Sunday that the two rail bridges – the second and third highest volume gateways moving freight between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico – will close as of 8 a.m. on December 18 in order to redeploy resources to assist Border Patrol agents with taking migrants into custody in what it described as an “evolving situation.”

CBP said it was closing the bridges because smuggling organizations were using the freight trains with increasing frequency to transport their human cargo.

The announcement follows the apprehension of nearly 4,500 illegal migrants in Del Rio and El Paso by border patrol agents on Sunday and comes on the heels of a slew of viral videos on social media depicting a flood of migrants riding freight trains bound for the U.S.

The suspension of international railway traffic is one of several changes CBP has made in efforts to “respond, process, and enforce consequences” of unauthorized crossings along the border with Mexico, the agency said.  In recent weeks, CBP has closed the port of entry in Lukeville, AZ, a pedestrian crossing in San Diego, CA, and a vehicle crossing in Eagle Pass, TX.  “We [will] continue to adjust our operational plans to maximize enforcement efforts against those noncitizens who do not use lawful pathways or processes such as CBP One™ and those without a legal basis to remain in the United States,” it added.

Cross-border Freight Begins Piling Up

Union Pacific, which manages the route, said the closure has prompted an embargo on all of its Mexican-bound cargo, including 60 trains already enroute as well as those that are currently being processed in more than 50 rail yards across the country.  That traffic alone amounts to over 4,500 rail cars being held north of the border, with “an equivalent amount of northbound traffic currently held south of the border.”

The closure of railway and border crossings will not only hinder trade, but also “make a bad situation worse, inflicting even more economic harm on the U.S.-Mexico relationship and driving up costs,” Border Trade Alliance President Britton Mullen said in a statement.  “These port closures are a byproduct of Congress and the administration’s failure to adopt a border security and immigration reform package that can balance our economic and physical security,” Britton added.  “The public and private stakeholders whose livelihoods depend on a well-managed, well-resourced, and secure border have waited long enough.”

Border States Called to Action

Meanwhile, Texas and Arizona have been forced to take a number of actions to combat the ongoing border crisis, which has seen a sharp rise in recent weeks.  In November, border patrol agents apprehended 192,000 migrants, up from 188,000 in October.  Governors from both states have deployed National Guard troops to assist Border Patrol agents in patrolling the border.  Texas also passed three new bills yesterday to deter the illegal immigration, including allocating state money to continue construction of the 1,200-mile border wall, increasing the minimum sentence for smuggling immigrants from two to ten years, and making it a criminal offense to enter the state illegally.

Republican Tony Gonzales of San Antonio warned it is “time to sound the alarm…  Our entire southern border is being dismantled by the cartels.”  In Arizona, Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly said in a joint statement, “For far too long, Arizona communities have paid the price for Washington’s failures on the border…  Our Ports of Entry are key drivers of economic growth and security in our state,” calling the migrant crisis “an unacceptable outcome that further destabilizes our border, risks the safety of our communities, and damages our economy.”

Panama Canal to Increase Daily Transits in January

After receiving better-than-expected rainfall in November, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced it will increase the number of daily vessel transits from 22 to 24, beginning on January 16.  The measure replaces all previous announcements and will remain in place until further notice.

The ACP will also be adjusting its process for reserving slots after the lengthy wait times forced many vessels without reservations – which included fishing boats, cruise ships, Ro/Ros, and LNG/LPG tankers – to divert away from the canal.  Under the new process, the ACP will limit each customer to one slot per calendar date, regardless of when the slot was booked, in order to provide “a more equitable and fair distribution of slots.”  The auctioning off of slots will be prioritized according to the highest bid in the auction process, fully laden containerships, and customer ranking.  These changes are also scheduled to take effect on January 16.

The ACP has also made significant headway in clearing the backlog of vessels waiting to transit the canal.  As of December 15, there were 64 vessels in the queue, down from a normal of 99 vessels.  Of the 64 vessels in the queue, 23 were without reservations.