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How China skirts tariffs into the US

In Maersk’s press release last week about a new warehousing facility in Tijuana, Mexico, one line stood out. It was sandwiched between a list of value-added services offered and a paragraph about the facility’s sustainable energy practices and certifications.


“Alternatively, it could operate [fulfillment or e-fulfillment] operations into the United States, leveraging the Section 321 Shipment Type** for e-commerce shipments.”


Under U.S. Customs and Border Protection rules, a Section 321 shipment is an import to the United States that, because it’s valued at less than $800, is exempt from tariffs. This rule has gained attention as a strategy to sidestep the extra costs of moving goods into the U.S. So Maersk’s inclusion of it in the release is no afterthought.


The provision is widely used to support cost-effective cross-border movement of goods. The new facility is designed to capitalize on exactly that, across more than 320,000 square feet of space.

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