In comments submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), AHPA requests the agency to amend Phase VI of its import declarations enforcement schedule by removing “other” essential oils from the list of products covered under this phase.
AHPA also requests the compliance deadline for Phase VI to be extended by six to 12 months to provide sufficient time for essential oil importers to fully understand and comply with this rule.
APHIS issued a Federal Register notice on March 31, 2020 to inform the public of its implementation of another phase (Phase VI) of the federal government’s enforcement schedule for the requirement for submission of declarations at the time of importation into the United States of certain plants and plant products, as established by the 2008 amendments to the Lacey Act.
Under Phase VI, import declarations will be required on October 1, 2020 for several new products. Of particular relevance to AHPA’s members are products in the following Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS), classified in Chapter 33 (Essential oils) within subheading 3301.29.51 (Essential oils other than those of citrus fruit; Other; Other) to include:
- essential oils of cedarwood
- essential oils of linaloe or bois de rose
- essential oils of sandalwood
- essential oils of “other”
Inclusion of “Other” essential oils Phase VI is overly broad and inconsistent with the definitions of “plant” and “plants” in the amended Lacey Act. AHPA therefore request that it be removed from Phase VI.
Examples of essential oils that are not listed elsewhere in HTSUS Chapter 33 and that are common cultivars or common food crops not subject to CITES, ESA or a State listing include but are not limited to: basil leaf essential oil; cardamom seed essential oil; celery seed essential oil; cinnamon leaf or bark essential oil; clary sage essential oil; coriander seed essential oil; dill herb or seed essential oil; fennel seed essential oil; ginger rhizome essential oil; hops catkin essential oil; mustard seed essential oil; oregano leaf or flowering tops essential oil; parsley seed essential oil; sage leaf essential oil; thyme flowering plant essential oil; turmeric rhizome essential oil. Each of these would be assumed to be included as “other” essential oils, even though none of these meet the definition of a “plant” under the Lacey Act, due to the “common cultivar” or “common food crop” exemptions.
APHIS identifies October 1, 2020 as the date when Phase VI of APHIS enforcement schedule would begin, requiring importation disclosures for the newly listed products on that date. AHPA is concerned that this very short time (just 3 months after the extended close of the comment period) will not be sufficient for importers of any essential oils that are subject to Phase VI importation disclosure to comply with this new obligation. This is of particular concern for companies that import essential oils but do not import any of the other commodities or products that have been included in earlier phases of the enforcement schedule. Such firms may be unaware of this new requirement and will need training that provides a clear understanding of how to comply with this regulation.
AHPA therefore requests an extension of time for compliance of not less than six months, and preferably a full year. AHPA is committed to developing training guidance in this matter, but will need sufficient time to implement such education and capacity building for the trade.
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