• Following negotiations that went well into the night, the EU took control of the Brexit endgame, turning down the UK Prime Minister’s plea to postpone Brexit from 29 March to 30 June, and instead drawing up a “flextension” plan that officially delays Brexit to 12 April 2019 at the earliest.
  • Under the terms of the plan, which was devised by the EU’s 27 heads of state and government and accepted by the UK Prime Minister, the twice-rejected “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU will be brought back to the UK Parliament for a vote next week.
  • If the UK Parliament approves the deal, the UK will exit on 22 May 2019, the day before European Parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place.
  • If the UK Parliament rejects the deal – as is expected – the new No-Deal Brexit date of 12 April 2019 will be triggered. However, the UK Government will be able to seek a longer extension from the EU at any point up to 12 April 2019 if it can (i) “indicate a way forward” (which would likely entail UK Parliament wresting control of Brexit proceedings from the UK Government and building some form of UK Parliamentary cross-party consensus for a softer Brexit); and (ii) agree to take part in the European Parliamentary elections on 23 May 2019.
  • In practice, this means that even if the Withdrawal Agreement is rejected once and for all next week by UK Parliament, all options will remain open until 12 April 2019; a softer Brexit, No-Deal Brexit, or no Brexit at all.


  • On 20 March, the UK Prime Minister formally wrote to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, requesting that Brexit should be delayed until 30 June 2019 – three months later than the long-envisaged exit date next Friday, 29 March 2019.

    Photo by Robert Tudor on Unsplash;
  • The UK Government’s request will be discussed on 21 March by the EU’s 27 heads of state and government at the European Council summit in Brussels.
  • It is unlikely the EU will unanimously approve the UK’s request, as this would necessitate the UK taking part in European Parliamentary elections on 23 May 2019.
  • The EU’s constitutional lawyers have advised that the UK remaining as a member state without UK Members of European Parliament having been elected could leave the EU’s institutions in paralysis. Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, has emphatically stated that “it is absolutely not in the interests of the European union for [Brexit] to occur beyond the date of the European elections”.
  • Therefore, it is likely that any extension granted by the EU (a) sets a new Brexit date of no later than 22 May 2019; and (b) is made conditional on the UK Government getting UK Parliamentary approval – at the third time of asking – of the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU.
  • If the UK Government fails to get approval for the Withdrawal Agreement, senior EU figures have suggested it is likely an emergency EU summit will be convened next week (potentially hours before the 29 March deadline) and the EU may offer either a long extension (potentially to the end of 2019) or a No-Deal Brexit.
  • Simultaneously, UK Parliament will again look to seize control of Brexit proceedings from the UK Government as the window to change the UK’s path forward before what is still the default course of action – No-Deal Brexit on 29 March 2019 – can take effect.

In NY N302853, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the classification of a product called the “Moby Dick Bath Time Essentials Kit,” which included four items: a kneeler, elbow rest, rinser and spout cover. All of these items are packaged together in a box marketed for retail sale.

  • The kneeler is made of a textile neoprene cover with a foam insert that is cut and sewn in the shape of a whale. The kneeler is used to support parents’ knees during children’s bath time.


  • The elbow rest is made of a textile neoprene fabric cover with a foam insert that is cut and sewn to resemble waves. There is a woven strap sewn on one side and additional foam padding on the top surface area. The elbow rest is placed on the edge of the bath tub to rest elbows and forearms when leaning on the edge of the bath tub during bath time.


  • The rinser is made of molded plastic in the shape of a whale. The “tail” of the whale is shaped into a handle and the “head” is open so that water can be held and poured to rinse children off before getting out of the bath tub.


  • The spout cover is made of molded plastic in the shape of a whale. The “tail,” front and top of the whales “head” all have openings to permit the spout to fit over the faucet and allow the water to flow, and still be able to access the controls of the faucet.

Explanatory Note (EN) X to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3(b) provides: “for the purposes of this Rule, the term ‘goods put up in sets for retail sale’ shall be taken to mean goods which:

(a) consist of at least two different articles which are, prima facie, classifiable in different headings;

(b) consist of products or articles put up together to meet a particular need or carry out a specific activity; and

(c) are put up in a manner suitable for sale directly to end users without repacking (e.g., in boxes or cases or on boards).”

CBP determined that the “Moby Dick Bath Time Essentials Kit” fulfills the requirements listed above. In determining the essential character various factors may be used to determine the component which imparts the essential character to the set. There are two plastic products classified in heading 3926, HTSUS (other articles of plastics) and two textile neoprene products classified in heading 6307, HTSUS (other made up articles of textile). GRI 3(b) states:

“Mixtures, composite goods consisting of different materials or made up of different components, and goods put up in sets for retail sale, which cannot be classified by reference to 3(a), shall be classified as if they consisted of the material or component which gives them their essential character”

In this case, CBP found that the essential character of the overall product could not clearly be attributed to either material. GRI 3(c) states:

When goods cannot be classified by reference to 3(a) or 3(b), they shall be classified under the heading which occurs last in numerical order among those which equally merit consideration”. Heading 6307, HTSUS appears last in the tariff.


CBP determined that the applicable subheading for the “Moby Bath Time Essentials Kit”, will be classified in subheading 6307.90.9889, HTSUS, which provides for other made up textile articles, other. The rate of duty will be 7% ad valorem.

Speaker of the House invokes Parliamentary Protocol from 1604


  • Monday, March 18, 2019, saw the Prime Minister blocked from putting forward the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU to a third Parliamentary vote. John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, who in accordance with longstanding UK Parliamentary protocol, decides on whether to allow any vote, told the UK Government that it cannot bring the deal back for a third vote unless substantial changes are made to it.  In making this announcement, he invoked Parliamentary protocol dating back to 1604, which added a constitutional issue to the Brexit proceedings.

    Photo by Dunphasizer on Flickr

  • This latest development puts even more onus on Thursday’s EU Summit in Brussels.  The EU, which per comments from a number of foreign ministers of member states, is displeased with this event. It is expected to formally agree on a new delayed Brexit date on Thursday, March 21, 2019.  It is widely believed that, if EU officials issue a summit communique with legal force (known as “council conclusions”) containing this new Brexit date, this will suffice as a “substantial” change for the Speaker, thereby allowing the Prime Minister to bring the Withdrawal Agreement back to a third vote.


  • It is still unclear whether EU leaders will push for a three-month or nine-month extension to the Article 50 withdrawal process, although political commentary would suggest that the latter remains more likely as this is the preferred option as expressed by senior EU figures.


  • Monday’s developments served to further cloud the Brexit horizon; simultaneously raising new fears of a No-Deal Brexit in 10 days’ time and breathing new life into the Second Referendum campaign.


In NY N302852, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discussed the classification of unisex below-the-ankle cycling shoes from China. The three pairs of cycling shoes: Bont Vaypor+, Bont Vaypor XC and Bont Riot Buckle, are designed using specially engineered materials for performance with strength and weight requirements. Each style has the provisions for the attachment of bicycle clips in recessed areas of the rubber or plastics outer sole. The importer stated that the cycling shoes are not marketed and sold specifically to men or women. Rather, they are unisex footwear. Statistical Note 1(c) to Chapter 64 states: “The term ‘footwear for women’ covers footwear of American women’s size 4 and larger, whether for females or of types commonly worn by both sexes,” or unisex footwear.

The Bon Vaypor XC has an upper that is made of Durolite, a synthetic leather, with vent holes on the vamp of the shoe. The rubber/plastic outer sole features removable grip plates. The shoe has a hook and loop, and BOA dial, reel and lace closure systems. The shoe does not have a foxing or a foxing-like band and is not “protective.”

The Bont Riot Buckle has an upper and outer sole made of rubber or plastics. It has a micro adjustable buckle and a hook and loop closure. There are vent holes on the vamp of the shoe. The shoe does not have a foxing or a foxing-like band and is not “protective.”

The Bont Vapor+ has an upper of Kangaroo leather. Air vent holes are on the vamp, lateral and medial sides. The closure system incorporates reel and lace Boa Technology. The outer sole is made of reinforced plastic. The shoe is lined with cow’s leather.

CBP determined that the applicable subheading for the Bon Vaypor XC and Bont Riot Buckle will be 6402.19.1541, HTSUS, which provides for footwear with outer soles and uppers of rubber or plastic: sports footwear: other: Having uppers of which over 90 percent of the external surface area (including accessories or reinforcements) is rubber or plastics, not having a foxing or foxing-like band and not protective: other: for women. The rate of duty will be 5.1 percent ad valorem.

Lastly, CBP determined that the applicable subheading for the Bont Vapor+ will be 6403.19.7061, HTSUS, which provides for footwear with outer soles of rubber, plastics, leather or composition leather and uppers of leather: sports footwear: other: for other persons: other: for women: other. The rate of duty will be free.


UK Votes – will not leave EU on March 29, 2019


  • On March 14, 2019, the UK Parliament voted to extend Article 50 (the formal mechanism for leaving the EU).  It will not leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

  • Separately, MPs passed on taking charge of the Brexit process going forward, by voting down a proposal that would have seen a series of votes in UK Parliament next week allowing MPs to indicate their preferred Brexit plan. Consequently, the Prime Minister will – for a third time, following two rejections – put forward the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that the UK Government negotiated with the EU to a Parliamentary vote.  This vote is likely to take place next Tuesday, 19 March 2019.

  • The decision of the UK Parliament to extend Article 50 does not automatically mean the UK cannot still leave with No Deal on 29 March 2019; rather, the Prime Minister must now formally ask European leaders for the Article 50 process to be extended.

  • The EU’s 27 heads of state and government are due to meet at the EU summit in Brussels next Thursday, 21 March 2019, where they will decide unanimously to accept or reject the request. Political commentary suggests the EU is likely to accept the UK’s proposal, but will press for a long extension (potentially up to the end of 2019, rather than the 30 June 2019 “short technical” extension put forward by the UK Government) and demand, per the European Council president Donald Tusk, that the UK “rethink its Brexit strategy and build consensus around it”.

  • All Brexit options are still on the table.


No-Deal, No Brexit, and the Withdrawal Agreement all remain on the table.


  • On March 13, 2019, UK Members of Parliament voted 321 to 278 to rule out a No-Deal Brexit in any scenario. MPs had earlier on Wednesday voted in favour of rejecting No-Deal. This was yet another attempt to convince Parliament to accept the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that it had negotiated with the EU and forced a final vote to try to get No-Deal back on the table as the default option if the Withdrawal Agreement was (again) rejected.

    Photo by Dunphasizer on Flickr

  • The approved motion against No-Deal has no legal force and may not prevent a No-Deal exit.  However, it carries political force, because it demonstrated a rebellion by members of the Prime Minister’s own party. Four ministers in her Cabinet abstained in the late vote.

What happens next:

  • MPs will vote today (March 14, 2019) at 5pm UK time on the possibility of extending Article 50 (the formal mechanism for leaving the EU) and therefore delaying Brexit.  The UK Government motion suggests seeking a delay to Brexit until 30 June 2019 if Parliament is able to approve a deal to leave the EU by 20 March 2019. The motion notes that if UK Parliament has not approved the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement by 20 March 2019, then it is likely the European Council would require a clear purpose for any extension.  The President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, has said that the UK must show “a credible justification for a possible extension and its duration”.  It is not entirely clear at this juncture what merits a “credible justification.” Commentary suggests it could mean granting the UK time to hold a General Election or Second Referendum on Brexit. The European Court of Justice has ruled that it would be legal for the UK to unilaterally revoke Article 50 and to cancel Brexit.


  • If UK Parliament supports the extension, the Prime Minister will formally ask European leaders for the Article 50 process to be extended.  The EU’s 27 heads of state and government would have to then decide unanimously at the EU summit next Thursday, 21 March 2019, to agree to the request.


  • There is no consensus regarding how the EU will respond to such a request.  It too would face a dilemma: a short extension is seen as heightening the chances of the UK tumbling out of the EU just before the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019.  Conversely, a long extension could potentially result in the EU being bogged down in Brexit for months or years.  Earlier, Tusk stated that he will urge EU leaders to back a long extension to Article 50 if the UK cannot agree a Brexit plan.


  • Per the above, the situation remains incredibly fluid, with No-Deal, No Brexit and the proposed Withdrawal Agreement all still on the table.

Brexit: What just happened and what does it mean?


  • On March 12, 2019, the UK Parliament again rejected the Brexit “Withdrawal Agreement” that was negotiated with the EU.  The UK Government announced today (March 13, 2019) that import tariffs will be cut to zero on 87% of imports to the UK as part of a temporary no-deal plan to prevent a £9 billion price shock to business and consumers. Tariffs will still apply to certain goods including beef, lamb, pork, poultry and some dairy products to “support farmers and producers who have historically been protected through high EU tariffs.”Flowchart showing revised timetable for Brexit, as announced by Mrs May on 26 Feb

Image from:

  • The UK Government’s announcements were made in a last-ditch attempt to concentrate the minds of Members of Parliament who will be voting later today to reject a no-deal Brexit. The UK Government described the announcement as a “modest liberalisation” of tariffs designed to minimise disruption to business and avoid price shock in the supermarkets.

  • The announcements raised immediate concerns about Northern Ireland being turned into a smugglers’ paradise after it was revealed that tariffs would not apply to goods crossing from the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland.


  • Ireland’s European affairs minister, Helen McEntee, said the prospect of tariffs on beef and dairy exports to the UK from the Republic of Ireland would be “absolutely disastrous for Irish agriculture”.


  • Goods from the EU are currently tariff-free, but in case of a no-deal Brexit, World Trade Organization (WTO) taxes would have been the default position without this intervention.

  • Wednesday’s announcement on Northern Ireland did not include any disclosures about security on the border but it is known that the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda in Ireland are concerned that there could be a “Brexit dividend” for existing criminal networks in the country. Recent reports have shown that criminal gangs involved in smuggling of cigarettes and other goods in Ireland come from all over the world including Asia and the Baltic states.

  • The UK Government also said it would “not introduce any new checks or controls on goods moving to Ireland or Northern Ireland”, ruling out any customs declarations on “normal goods”.

  • The new tariff schedule would apply from 11pm on March 29, 2019 in the event of a crash out of the EU and would be in place for up to 12 months.The rates published on Wednesday by the UK Government represent a percentage of the existing EU rate.  They include 53% of the existing EU rate on beef, which equates, for example, to 6.8% on boneless beef, plus €160.10 (£138) per 100kg, and 6.8% on unboned beef, plus €93 per 100kg.

  • Other rates announced on Wednesday include 60% of the existing EU rate on poultry, butter 32%, cheddar cheese 13%, fish/seafood 11.9%, and 83% on milled and semi-milled grain. The existing EU tariff applied to non-EU lamb will be applied in the UK.

  • A tariff of 11.3% of the existing EU rate would apply to finished motor cars and trucks with 8% on certain textiles and 8.2% on footwear.


  • The UK Government trade minister, George Hollingbery, said the measures would protect the poorest families in Britain against price rises, noting that if the UK leaves without a deal “we will set the majority of our import tariffs to zero while maintaining tariffs for the most sensitive industries”.  He added that the approach would “help to support British jobs and avoid potential price spikes that would hit the poorest household the hardest”.

  • Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, described the situation as “the biggest change in terms of trade this country has faced since the mid-19th century being imposed on this country with no consultation with business, no time to prepare” and referred to the prospect of no deal as a “sledgehammer for the economy”.  She observed that “what we potentially are going to see is this imposition of new terms of trade at the same time as business is blocked out of its closest trading partner”.

  • In relation to Northern Ireland, the UK Government said its reason for waiving the regime in the region was to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. It added that if Britain crashed out of the EU without a deal, the government will “enter discussions urgently with the EU and Ireland” over longer term border arrangements.

  • The no-checks approach, which has been dubbed an “honesty-box system” in Northern Ireland, would be a “strictly temporary, unilateral approach it would take to avoid a hard border if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal”.  A “small number” of checks would apply on the border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. However, the UK Government insisted that this would not entail any controls down the Irish Sea.

  • To protect animal, human and plant health, food products from non-EU countries would “enter Northern Ireland through a designated entry point”.  In addition, “regulated plant material from outside the EU and high-risk EU plant material will require certification and pre-notification” before arriving in the UK including Northern Ireland.

  • It is understood that there will be little incentive for legitimate exporters to shift operations from Dublin port to the “backdoor” tariff-free Northern Ireland ports and airports because they will have to register their goods in any event with a customs declaration.  Documents would also be needed for goods such as endangered species and hazardous chemicals but this would not involve any infrastructure or checks at the border in Northern Ireland, according to the UK Government.

What happens next?

  • In the coming days MPs will face a number of further crucial votes about what should happen next.  These will include votes on whether to delay Brexit; rule out leaving with no deal or allow the UK to leave the EU with no deal.  The situation is very fluid and could even see Parliament agreeing to hold a second referendum.


  • To date the Prime Minister has been adamant that UK will leave the EU on March 29, 2019. This is 2 years after formally triggering Article 50 (the formal mechanism for leaving the EU), but it now seems very possible that there could be a request for a delay although any such extension will have to be agreed by the EU.

Leading Team Assists Clients with Global Expansion in Asia

Los Angeles – March 11, 2019: Crowell & Moring LLP is broadening its ability to help multinational clients navigate global expansion and regulatory compliance in China and the Asia Pacific by adding four international trade and global employment lawyers: partners Nicole J. Simonian and Evan Yee-Fan Chuck, senior counsel Robert Clifton Burns, and counsel Jackson Pai to its Los Angeles and Washington offices. As part of this move, Crowell & Moring International (CMI), the firm’s global policy and regulatory affairs consulting affiliate, is launching an office in Shanghai with seven trade, transactions, and tax professionals to support global businesses facing cross-border transactional, investigative, policy, and regulatory needs.

International Trade Group Additions

The team joins from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP and bolsters Crowell & Moring’s ability to help companies structure, establish, and manage business operations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America. They have worked together for more than two decades, providing advice to foreign businesses that face complex regulatory issues such as complying with antitrust laws and securing approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Simonian, who served as co-chair of Bryan Cave’s International Trade Group and head of its Asia practice, will co-chair Crowell & Moring’s International Trade Group, together with John B. Brew. Simonian will also serve as the firm’s International Employment and Global Mobility lead. Chuck, who most recently led Bryan Cave’s China Practice, will become head of the firm’s Asia Practice. Simonian, Chuck, and Pai join the firm’s Los Angeles office while Burns will reside in the Washington office. Their move comes on the heels of former Bryan Cave partner David Stepp’s joining the firm in August.

“We are thrilled to welcome this diverse group of top flight lawyers at a time when international trade issues, particularly in China, are of paramount importance to our clients. Our new team has in-depth knowledge about how best to help clients move goods, services, and people across borders in today’s challenging global trade climate,” said Philip T. Inglima, chair of Crowell & Moring LLP. “Their collective skill set will expand our capabilities and provide clients with the highest level of service to address their global corporate and supply chain needs.”

Crowell & Moring CMI Shanghai
Nicole J. Simonian and Evan Yee-Fan Chuck join forces with Crowell & Moring’s Robert Holleyman, David R. Stepp, and John B. Brew to expand the firm’s international trade practice. (Photographed from left to right: Holleyman, Stepp, Simonian, Chuck, and Brew)

Crowell & Moring International Opens in Shanghai

Crowell & Moring International, an affiliate of Crowell & Moring LLP, is launching an office in Shanghai to support global businesses facing cross-border business needs, as well as international trade, policy, and regulatory issues. In the coming weeks, Crowell & Moring International plans to welcome a 7-person team of highly skilled professionals based in Shanghai. They have worked with Simonian, Chuck, and Stepp since 2005. This new Shanghai presence expands Crowell & Moring International’s ability to serve clients in the Chinese market and builds on CMI’s more than 30 years of experience advising global businesses operating in the Asia-Pacific.

“Our Shanghai office, in conjunction with our Los Angeles and Washington D.C. based international trade teams, will provide a valuable platform to help clients access and navigate the growing market,” said Ambassador Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of Crowell & Moring International and former deputy U.S. Trade Representative responsible for Asia. He plans to work closely with Simonian and Chuck as they provide trade, corporate, policy, regulatory, and international employment and global mobility advice to multinational clients. “This group brings a wealth of talent to our law firm’s International Trade Group and positions us for growth in Asia,” Holleyman said.

Integrated Policy Team

Simonian advises companies on their market entry and global business strategies throughout Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. She advises Fortune 500 companies on their international trade and employment strategies as they develop and maintain international workforces and structure global mobility and expatriate processes to address the growing need to move goods and people across borders. Her experience in corporate, trade, and international employment law provides a holistic approach for her clients who operate in a complex, global regulatory environment.

“We are excited to enhance Crowell & Moring’s reputation as a premier international law firm,” Simonian said. “Our team’s experience, combined with Crowell & Moring’s Chambers-ranked International Trade Practice and its influential consulting firm, provide a powerful platform to deliver innovative legal, political, and business solutions for clients worldwide.”

Chuck has more than 25 years of international trade and cross-border transactional experience. He advises Fortune 500 companies in structuring market entry, global supply chain, and e-commerce strategies across the Asia-Pacific region. He has in-depth experience in China with cross-border acquisitions/dispositions, government regulatory compliance, and investigations. He also represents large, multinational Chinese companies with complex U.S. transactional, tax, and regulatory issues. He advises U.S.-based companies with complex supply chains in ongoing Section 301 trade disputes between the U.S. and China. He served as both chair of Bryan Cave’s International Trade Group and as managing partner of its Shanghai office for seven years.

“I look forward to joining forces with Crowell & Moring to add deep, China cross-border trade and transactional experience to the firm’s top tier law and consulting practices in the United States and Europe for the benefit of the firm’s multinational clients,” Chuck said.

“Given the current trade wars and uncertainties of the global trade environment, clients need business solutions and sophisticated guidance to help them minimize tariffs, resolve supply chain disruptions, and secure market access,” Brew said. “Nicole, Evan, and the team have the experience and insight to provide counsel on emerging trade issues worldwide.”

“In the digital age, the competition for talent is intense and workforces are becoming increasingly mobile,” said Kris D. Meade, chair of Crowell & Moring’s Labor & Employment Group, Our new additions have the right mix of experience in global mobility and trade so they can help our clients stay ahead of the competition.”

About Crowell & Moring LLP

Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with more than 500 lawyers representing clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory, and transactional matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity. The firm has offices in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, London, and Brussels. 


In Ruling NY N302731, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently discussed the classification of an electric bicycle from China. The bike is a two wheeled, battery powered cycle. It is equipped with handlebars for steering, lights, a twist grip accelerator, brakes, and a special golf bag compartment.

The importer stated that the bicycle is designed to be used off-road, specifically on a golf course. It has a maximum speed of approximately 15 mph, designed to carry one person. It is a powered by a deep cycle battery capable of lasting 54 holes of golf before requiring recharging. The battery is not imported with the cycle.

CBP determined that the applicable subheading for the Finn Cycle will be 8711.60.0000, HTSUS, which provides for “Motorcycles (including mopeds) and cycles fitted with an auxiliary motor, with or without side-cars; side-cars: With electric motor for propulsion”. The general rate of duty will be free.


Products of China classified under subheading 8711.60.0000, HTSUS, unless specifically excluded, are subject to the additional 25 percent ad valorem rate of duty, List 2. At the time of importation, the Chapter 99 subheading, 9903.88.02, must be reported in addition to subheading 8711.60.0000, HTSUS.