Companies have until 23 April to voice their opinions on proposals for a customs rule change that could cost US businesses and consumers millions of dollars.

The US Customs and Border Protection (Customs) on Thursday (7 February) extended by 30 days the public comment period on its plans to eliminate the 'First Sale Rule', which is a popular, cost-saving import valuation methodology.

Concerned parties now have until 23 April to lodge their complaints.
Customs first announced its intention to revoke the First Sale Rule on 28 January, and since then a coalition of industry associations has been set up to try to prevent the change from taking place.

The current First Sale Rule allows a company to base the value of an imported finished-good, for purposes of determining the duty rate, on the cost of the product at the first sale in the supply chain, rather than the value at the point of importation. 

This lawful, common method of valuation is utilised by businesses across the spectrum, and saves them millions of dollars. 

If the Rule is abolished, it is likely that the increased cost of doing business will be passed on to consumers with inflationary retail costs.  

Peter J Gabbe, chief operating officer at Carole Hochman Design Group and chairman of the board of directors for the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), points out that the 30-day extension "allows additional time for interested parties to calculate the true cost of such a broad proposal."

But he adds: "At a time when intense concern over the economy is generating pressure on all levels, from manufacturing to the consumer, I am hard-pressed to understand why the government would impose a tax where one didn't already exist."