Importers will be hit with a nearly 65 percent increase in merchandise processing fees through a provision embedded in the recently passed free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
Trade groups were nearly unanimous in their support of the FTAs, but the fee increase “…came out of left field. It was a surprise to everybody that this was going to happen," said trade attorney Robert Leo. Importers of lower-value goods will be hit the hardest since it will be more difficult to recoup the cost from retail price increases, said Leo, a partner at Meeks, Sheppard, Leo & Pillsbury.
Customs will retroactively apply the new rate to cargo imported after Oct. 1. The fee is 0.3464 percent on the value of cargo, up from 0.21 percent.
The fees cap of $485 will be remain the same, but the cap will apply when cargo value reaches $140,011. With the older rate, the fee was capped at cargo valued at $230,952.