On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, President Obama signed into law the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (H.R. 644).  The comprehensive authorization is the first overhaul of the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP) since 2003.  The bipartisan legislation seeks to strengthen trade enforcement at ports, to fortify detection of duty and trade evasion, and to improve transparency, accountability, and coordination in enforcement efforts.  The law also establishes a process to better empower the executive branch in confronting countries that engage in unfair currency practices.

H.R. 644 formally establishes CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) program.  These centers are composed of 10 nationwide, industry-specific departments that were created to increase uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues, and strengthen critical agency knowledge on key trade practices.  In an essential step to modernizing the Customs process, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act will continue funding for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system.  This ‘single window’ is a portal, to launch by December 2016, that will be used to transmit import and export information to 47 government agencies.  ACE will eliminate the burden of over 200 forms and streamline the trade process.  In addition, the law strengthens and authorizes new enforcements of Intellectual Property Rights and Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Duty cases.

The bill passed through the House in December of 2015 and was confirmed by the Senate in early February of 2016.  Now that H.R. 644 has been signed into law, the legislation will take 180 days to go into effect.

Click here to access the complete details for the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R. 644)