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No Duty Hike On “Tasteless Smoked” Frozen Tuna Fillets

In August this year, US Customs and Border Protection confirmed that various cuts of frozen tuna fillets treated with a “tasteless smoke” process are classifiable as frozen tuna. This qualified US imports of the product with a zero duty tariff. The decision marked a big win for fish importers and consumers, as the “tasteless smoked” tuna avoided a 12.5 percent duty under an alternative classification.

On November 15, published an article titled: “Higher US duties considered for smoked tuna”, which was inaccurate as “tasteless smoke” processed tuna will continue to be branded with zero percent duty when imported in the US. There are no current negotiations for change.

The skinless, boneless tuna loins are treated with the tasteless smoke process before they are frozen. This consists of a mixture of purified carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, oxygen and methane to prevent the color from changing from red to brown. After lengthy review, US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) decided that the treatment does not affect the classification of the tuna.

According to a report on the website of the law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, which supported the industry in the matter, the CBP found that the fillets are not prepared or preserved fish under HTSUS 1604 because the tasteless smoke process does not advance them in condition so as to make them more valuable; e.g., does not change their taste, render them suitable for any particular purpose or extend their shelf life.

Customs and Border Protection stated that the fillets do not possess any excess substantial features to those of plain, frozen tuna fillets and therefore remain classifiable under HTSUS 0304.