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Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

On December 9, 2015 Congress reached a final agreement on H.R. 644, the “Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.”  The bipartisan, bicameral trade legislation authorizes U.S. Customs and Border Protection and puts in place effective tools to: (a) strengthen trade enforcement at the border; and, (b) facilitate the efficient movement of legitimate trade and travel. The Bill now will go to the President for signature.

Some of the highlights include:

  •           Increasing from $200 to $800 the general de minimis threshold for entering without entry and duty articles imported by one person on one day.
  •           Amending HTSUS 9801.00.10 @ Duty Free, to read:

Products of the United States when returned after having been exported, or any other products when returned within 3 years after having been exported, without having been advanced in value or improved in condition by any process of manufacture or other means while abroad: Articles previously exported with intent to reimport after temporary use abroad

  •          Amending HTSUS 9802.00 (ARTICLES EXPORTED AND RETURNED, ADVANCED OR IMPROVED ABROAD) to allow for the commingling of fungible articles in accordance with inventory management methods.
  •          Amending the Drawback regulations to allow, among other things, for substituting merchandise based on the same 8-digit HTSUS number rather than “of the same kind and quality” or “commercially interchangeable with” criteria and, increasing the time limits for Substitution drawback, Unused merchandise drawback and drawback for Merchandise not conforming to sample or specifications from 3 to 5 years.

Other provisions include:

  •          U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must ensure that CBP partnership programs, such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, provide trade benefits to importers, exporters, and other private sector entities that meet program requirements.
  •          CBP must establish educational seminars to improve CBP classification and appraisal of imported articles, trade enforcement, and facilitation of international trade
  •          CBP & the GAO must to report to Congress on the status of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) computer system.
  •          Create within CBP an Office of International Trade a Commercial Targeting Division (including National Targeting and Analysis Groups) to conduct commercial risk assessment targeting and, when needed, issue trade alerts with respect to cargo destined for the United States
  •          Establish an Importer of Record Number program that:
    • Identifies linkages or other affiliations between importers that are requesting or have been assigned importer of record numbers;
    • Allows CBP to identify changes in address and corporate structure of importers
    • Maintains a centralized database of importer of record numbers, including a history of importer of record numbers associated with each importer,
  •           Establish a new importer program that adjusts bond amounts for new importers based on the level of risk assessed for revenue protection
  •          Create interagency groups to oversee import health and safety as well as trade enforcement
  •          Provide for import-related protection of intellectual property rights
  •          Increase enforcement of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders
  •         Authorize the USTR to take certain discretionary trade action against foreign countries that engage in unreasonable acts, policies, or practices
  •         Make “Currency Undervaluation” a countervailable subsidy for Countervailing Duty (CVD) purposes.
  •         Require CBP to enforce effectively free trade agreements to which the United States is a party.
  •         Facilitate the process for enacting temporary duty suspensions and reductions contained in a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (i.e. American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2015).