The source for trade compliance news

APHIS Hopes to Begin Phase Seven of Lacey Act Implementation in Late 2023, Official Says

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service hopes to begin implementation of its seventh and penultimate phase of Lacey Act declaration requirements toward the end of 2023, the agency’s Erin Otto said Sept. 19, speaking at a National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America conference in Washington. Otto said APHIS hopes to complete phase seven implementation in the summer of 2024, at which point the agency will pivot to the final phase eight.

Start A Trial

Phase seven will put in place declaration requirements for “all remaining non-composite plant products," including wooden, wicker and rattan furniture of chapter 94 of the tariff schedule; more essential oils of chapter 33; and cork and cork products of chapter 45. APHIS still has to “go through all the lines of HTS codes to figure out which ones will be flagged for phase seven, so that’s why I don’t have an exact list right now.”

APHIS will in October begin 12 months of stakeholder outreach to trade and industry organizations and nongovernmental organizations “to get the word out that this declaration for the remaining non-composite wood products is coming,” Otto said. APHIS will be letting industry know “that if they haven’t taken up the due care process, this is the perfect time to start, right now, so that they can … be ready for that declaration that’s going to be coming down the path,” she said.

In the “best case scenario,” after about year of outreach, APHIS will publish a list of the covered tariff schedule codes in the Federal Register in November or December 2023, Otto said. “And at that point, hopefully within six months, we'll be able to implement that declaration schedule,” she said. “So hopefully, fingers crossed, by the summer of 2024, phase seven will be implemented, and we can start talking about what's next.”

What is next is the eighth phase of implementation of Lacey Act declaration requirements, which APHIS hopes will be the last and cover “all remaining composite materials,” Otto said. That would include articles like particleboard, books, wood pulp and paper. APHIS will begin working toward that final phase immediately after phase seven implementation is complete, and is already engaged in discussions with affected industries, including paper and pulp companies, she said.

APHIS anticipates that it will have to conduct a rulemaking process as part of phase eight to clarify the definition of composite plant products and components. Currently, that’s defined as products “where the original plant material is mechanically or chemically broken down and subsequently re-composed or used as an extract in a manufacturing process,” Otto said. She said that APHIS has received questions about what it means to be chemically or mechanically broken down.

“It made us think that we want to be fair across all the industries when it comes to composites” with respect to Lacey Act declaration requirements, “so we want to get more input from industry about the definition of composite and we anticipate some more rulemaking around that definition,” Otto said. “We just want to make sure that we get it right before we start asking for that declaration.”