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Proposed Rule

Changes in the Insular Possessions Watch, Watch Movement and Jewelry Programs

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Import Administration, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce; Office of Insular Affairs, Department of the Interior.


Notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments.


The Departments of Commerce and the Interior (the Departments) propose amending their regulations governing watch duty-exemption allocations and the watch and jewelry duty-refund benefits for producers in the United States insular possessions (the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) . The proposed rule would amend existing regulations by updating the maximum total value of watch components per watch that are eligible for duty-free entry into the United States under the insular program.


Written comments must be received on or before July 30, 2004.


Address written comments to Faye Robinson, Acting Director, Statutory Import Programs Staff, FCB, Suite 4100W, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th and Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20230.

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Faye Robinson, (202) 482-3526, same address as above.

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The insular possessions watch industry provision in Sec. 110 of Pub. L. No. 97-446 (96 Stat. 2331) (1983), as amended by Sec. 602 of Pub. L. No. 103-465 (108 Stat. 4991) (1994); additional U.S. Note 5 to chapter 91 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”), as amended by Pub. L. 94-241 (90 Stat. 263) (1976) requires the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the Interior (“the Secretaries”), acting jointly, to establish a limit on the quantity of watches and watch movements which may be entered free of duty during each calendar year. The law also requires the Secretaries to establish the shares of this limited quantity which may be entered from the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. After the Departments have verified the data submitted on the annual application (Form ITA-334P), the producers' duty-exemption allocations are calculated from the territorial share in accordance with 15 CFR 303.14 and each producer is issued a duty-exemption license. The law further requires the Secretaries to issue duty-refund certificates to each territorial watch and watch movement producer based on the company's duty-free shipments and creditable wages paid during the previous calendar year.

Proposed Amendments

We propose amending Sec.303.14(b)(3) by raising the maximum total value of watch components per watch that are eligible for duty-free entry into the U.S. from $500 to $800. The insular watch program producers requested an increase primarily due to a substantial increase in the price of gold and the weakness of the dollar against the euro over the last several years. Also, there has not been an adjustment in the maximum value since 1998. Raising the value levels of watch components that may be used in the assembly of duty-free watches will help producers maintain the level of diversity in the kinds of watches they assemble, thereby affording them an opportunity to maintain or hopefully increase shipments and raise territorial employment.

Administrative Law Requirements

Regulatory Flexibility Act. In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., the Chief Counsel for Regulation at the Department of Commerce has certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Small Business Administration, that the proposed rule, if promulgated as final, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. There are currently four watch companies in the insular watch program, all of which are small entities. This rulemaking would update the total maximum value of watch components per watch that are eligible for duty-free entry into the U.S. Increases in the price of gold and a weakened dollar against the euro have driven up the price of gold watch components. Therefore, companies are faced with a difficult situation because if the value limit is exceeded, the watch becomes ineligible for the duty-free benefit under the program (due to the fact that the insular possessions are outside the Customs territory of the United States). Adoption of this rule would increase the maximum value of watch components per watch that would be eligible for duty-free treatment into the United States. This would allow producers to include higher-priced components in their watches. As a result, producers would realize an economic benefit in that they would regain greater flexibility in the types of watches they could produce, which, hopefully, will lead to increased sales and employment to help the insular economy. There would be no adverse economic impact from this proposed change.

This proposed rule also would not change reporting or recordkeeping requirements. The changes in the regulations will also not duplicate, overlap or conflict with other laws or regulations. Consequently, the changes are not expected to meet of the RFA criteria of having a “significant” economic effect on a “substantial number” of small entities, as stated in 5 U.S.C. 603 et seq. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not prepared.

Paperwork Reduction Act. This proposed rulemaking does not contain revised collection of information requirements subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Collection activities are currently approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control numbers 0625-0040 and 0625-0134. Start Printed Page 39376

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

E.O. 12866. It has been determined that the proposed rulemaking is not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

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List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 303

  • Administrative practice and procedure
  • American Samoa
  • Customs duties and inspection
  • Guam
  • Imports
  • Marketing quotas
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Reporting and record keeping requirements
  • Virgin Islands
  • Watches and jewelry
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For reasons set forth above, the Departments propose to amend 15 CFR Part 303 as follows:

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1. The authority citation for 15 CFR Part 303 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: Pub. L. 97-446, 96 Stat. 2331 (19 U.S.C. 1202, note); Pub. L. 103-465, 108 Stat. 4991; Pub. L. 94-241, 90 Stat. 263 (48 U.S.C. 1681, note); Pub. L. 106-36, 113 Stat.167.

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2. Section 303.14 is amended by removing “$500” from the first sentence of paragraph (b)(3) and adding “$800” in its place.

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James J. Jochum,

Assistant Secretary for Import Administration, Department of Commerce.

Nikolao Pula,

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Department of the Interior.

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[FR Doc. 04-14854 Filed 6-29-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P; 4310-93-P