Wisconsin bean supplier caught in the middle of  US-Europe trade spat

Email exchanges between CV Bean and their client, who requested anonymity, detail the customer’s surprise at being told by their trade adviser they had to pay the tariff, and how the company needed to file a request with European Union customs for a refund — a cumbersome process in itself.

In a message given to CNBC, the client told CV Bean that it could possibly cancel four more planned orders because the tax on each represented “the difference between profit and loss.”

Robert Gosselink, a trade law attorney and founding partner of Trade Pacific, told CNBC that in CV Bean’s case, “the bill of lading was an acknowledgement that the goods were received by the carrier on a particular date for transportation to the U.K.”

While CV Bean’s case appears isolated, it showed how tariffs are likely to impact the flow of future trade, the lawyer added. “With new tariffs, there is a dilemma and conflict over which side should be responsible for paying the additional duty cost,” Gosselink said.

“Fortunately, the EU appears to have a mechanism whereby the duty must be paid at the time of entry, … but [it] can be refunded later if documentation can establish that the merchandise was shipped prior to June 22.”

Kinga Malinowska, a European Commission spokesperson, confirmed to CNBC that officials were aware of CV Bean’s dilemma. Malinowska said that according to EU regulations, goods en route to the bloc before June 22 “are not subject to additional tariffs” — meaning CV Bean should be eligible for a refund.

Vanessa Mock, a spokesperson for the commission’s Financial Services, Taxation and Customs, also told CNBC that a claim should be submitted, which “should be treated directly by the EU custom authorities.”

Yet according to Gosselink, “the refund process is not guaranteed, and it is unclear how long the process will take. It is for this reason that potential additional duties can create a devastatingly chilling effect on trade.”

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