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US Bill To Modernize US Customs, Boost Duty Enforcement

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

14 December 2012

The House of Representatives Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R - Texas) has introduced the Customs Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2012, which aims to streamline the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and boost the enforcement of trade laws governing import duties.

Brady stated that: "In the 21st Century, time is a trade barrier that can leave American companies less competitive in the global marketplace. My goal is to lower the cost and delays at the border while improving security and enforcement."

He emphasized that he has introduced the bill to improve three vital aspects of the Customs mission: modernization, streamlining/facilitation, and enforcement. He aims to give stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the legislation, but is committed to moving a bipartisan bill at the earliest opportunity.

"Trade is vital to our economic engine, creating jobs and lifting wages here at home," he continued. "Today, companies that engage in international trade employ more than 50m US workers, and trade now represents over 30% of US gross domestic product. If the US is to remain competitive, we must do more than lower tariff barriers and open market access abroad."

"We also must have a more modernized and automated Customs structure to allow that trade to occur as efficiently as possible and in compliance with our laws," he concluded. "This bill would modernize these important tools."

For the better streamlining of Customs processes, particularly for low-risk importers, the legislation would create new initiatives to allow companies that partner with CBP to improve trade compliance and cooperate above the norm to receive incentives for that cooperation.

The bill would reduce paperwork burdens for e-commerce transactions and for the movement of low risk cargo. It would also establish mechanisms to improve the collection of revenue and enforcement of laws without jeopardizing legitimate trade. It includes the terms of the proposed PROTECT Act - bipartisan legislation introduced earlier by Ways and Means Committee member Charles Boustany (R – South Louisiana) to address the evasion and underpayment of antidumping and countervailing duties.

The bill would also direct CBP to enter into agreements with foreign countries to increase cooperation in combating evasion and to allow the Bureau to conduct overseas investigations of evasion, as well as to establish as a negotiating objective for future trade agreements the creation of arrangements with foreign countries to increase cooperation in combating evasion.

The draft legislation would provide CBP with the authority to provide intellectual property rights holders with samples and related information for the sole purpose of determining if imported products are counterfeit, and also give CBP enhanced bonding authority to strengthen enforcement of copyrights.

Finally, the bill authorizes funding for the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and the US International Trade Commission, and establishes heightened transparency through reporting requirements for USTR-led inter-agency programs, including the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, as well as for USTR’s budgetary and staffing needs.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R – Michigan) added that "the bill is the right approach to facilitate and streamline legitimate trade and ensure that US laws are strictly enforced. A key component of ensuring that our international competitors play by the rules is the bipartisan legislation sponsored by Charles Boustany to address evasion and underpayment of antidumping and countervailing duties."

TAGS: compliance | tax | small business | business | commerce | law | intellectual property | copyright | tariffs | anti-dumping | fees | enforcement | agreements | e-commerce | legislation | United States | import duty | penalties | trade

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