Through the efforts of an interagency collaboration, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) investigators seized more than 200,000 toy dolls arriving from China due to high levels of a group of banned chemical compounds.

According to CBP.gov, the ten shipments, valued at nearly $500,000, were seized at the ports of Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Norfolk, VA, Memphis TN, Newark, NJ, Portland, OR, and Savannah GA. The toy parts contained high levels of phthalates, a potential safety risk to the public, especially children.

The Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC), designed to streamline and enhance federal efforts to address import safety issues, had been tracking these shipments since April 2013, due to the potential threat.  “Using advanced technology to track certain shipments before they reach our shores is helping CPSC better protect America’s consumers,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “CPSC and CBP are working in partnership to detect and detain violative imports.” CTAC’s efforts, in conjunction with the actions of CBP and CPSA, stopped more than 1.1 million unsafe products in the 2012 Fiscal Year alone.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) Executive Vice President, Ed Desmond states, “[TIA] commends CBP and CPSC for their diligence and hard work at the ports to ensure that products violating strict federal safety laws never reach consumers.”

You can access the full article, including video, images and testing results, here.

This interagency collaboration is a great example of the One US Government at the Border initiative.  To hear more about the One US Government at the Border initiative, join Integration Point & CBP for a free, educational webcast on December 11, 2013.  More information and registration for the webcast can be accessed here.

Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine is still bustling with about 300,000 protesters, defying the country’s ban on protests on the capital city’s central square. The second week of daily protests come after Ukraine made the sudden decision to focus on boosting its ties with Russia, vetoing a potentially historic trade deal with the European Union (EU). The deal was set to be signed on November 29, 2013.

slide_327590_3170628_freeProtesters throw stones as they clash with police outside the presidential administration building in downtown Kiev, Ukraine, on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. AP Photo/Sergei Grits

The Ukrainian government spent several years preparing for the landmark trade deal and included firm promises from Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, that it would be signed. The deal would have boosted Ukraine’s economy by more than 6 percent, saving businesses 500 million euros a year in import duties.

The decision follows vast pressure from Russia, including an attempt to block the EU trade deal by banning some Ukrainian imports and threatening more trade sanctions.

According to The Huffington Post, “The government argues the Ukrainian economy would not survive a trade war with Russia, after the Kremlin imposed restrictions on Ukrainian exports, warning Kiev of a possible trade blockade if it goes ahead with the EU deal.” This was the main, amongst many, reasons the government gave for the sudden reversal of its decision.

Amid the masked crowds, armed with rocks and other projectiles, come demands for the government’s resignation over the decision which has angered many of the city’s citizens. Protesters have swept away metal barriers, occupied government buildings and left EU and Ukrainian flags hanging from the square’s Christmas tree. According to opinion surveys in the country, 45 percent of Ukrainians support closer integration with the EU.

"Our plan is clear: It's not a demonstration, it's not a reaction. It's a revolution," said Yuriy Lutsenko, a former interior minister who is now an opposition leader.

For more on Ukraine’s decision and the ongoing protests, view the full article here

As of November 14, 2013, a total of 375 American companies and associations have added their names to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program Supporter List, calling for the immediate renewal of the GSP program. Congress allowed the legal authorization of the GSP program to expire on July 31, 2013.

The organizations calling upon Congress to renew the GSP program are incredibly diverse. They include companies and associations that are headquarted in 40 states (plus Washington, DC), import from more than a quarter of GSP-eligible countries, and garner GSP savings from as little as $1000 to millions of dollars per year.

As a result of the GSP expiration, these American companies now face an estimated $2 million per day in new taxes.

Click here to access the full article, which allows companies who are not yet on the list, the ability to add their name. These companies can also answer a survey, being used to learn about the impacts of GSP expiration.