Customs Reauthorization Bill Heads to Obama

On Thursday, February 11th, the U.S. Senate passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644), the first overhaul of the United States’ Customs and Border Protection Agency in over 15 years. The legislation will give teeth to programs protecting U.S. businesses from unfair trade practices and rampant ‘trade cheats.’

The bill reauthorizes the Customs and Border Protection Agency itself, as well as outlines direction for streamlining trade rules and regulations, intellectual property rights protection, and authorizes more tools to mitigate currency manipulation schemes. While no sanctions against creative currency manipulation are specifically named, the bill does allow the U.S. to exclude countries that violate this rule from participating in procurement contracts and trade deals. Another major emphasis for improvement is the simplification of the duty drawback program. The updated legislation would outline record keeping requirements and filing time frames to simplify the program and make it more useful to importers who re-export into international markets. In addition, goods exported and subsequently returned within three years will be granted duty-free treatment and be permitted to be commingled for the first time.

The bill was originally passed by the House in December of 2015 and now heads to the oval office for President Obama’s approval. Once the bill is signed into law, the legislation would take 180 days to go into effect.