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CBP to Focus on Enforcement, Facilitation, Regulatory Burdens to Promote Economic Growth

Federal officials said recently that the trade community can expect to see a continued emphasis on both enforcement and facilitation, including a renewed effort to lower regulatory burdens, as part of the Trump administration’s focus on promoting economic growth. Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told a meeting of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee that new Department of Homeland Security John Kelly will be a major supporter of CBP’s dual roles of enforcing U.S. trade laws and facilitating legitimate trade. Both are needed to help U.S. companies be competitive in the global marketplace, which is vital to the president’s goals of increasing domestic economic growth and employment. Christa Brzozowski, deputy assistant secretary of homeland security, trade and transport, and Daniel Ragsdale, deputy director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said ensuring trade compliance will be a priority for their agencies as well.

McAleenan said CBP will continue to focus on implementation of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act. In a recent blog post McAleenan reviewed CBP’s progress in this area over the past year, including electronic filing of allegations of evasion of AD and CV duty orders, utilising enhanced authorities to protect intellectual property rights, and issuing withhold release orders on several commodities from mainland China over concerns about forced labour.

Leaders of COAC’s Trade Enforcement and Revenue Collection Subcommittee noted that they have been considering a number of TFTEA-related items to ensure transparency and dialogue between CBP and the trade community. These include CBP’s joint strategic plan on trade enforcement, which is currently under review by DHS; the importer of record programme, which is dependent on CBP’s new Form 5106 being discussed with the Office of Management and Budget; importer risk assessment, which a CBP internal working group is currently reviewing; and the establishment of a Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate within CBP’s Office of Trade, which will assume the former Commercial Targeting & Enforcement responsibilities plus the newly established Enforce and Protect Act branch for AD/CV duty evasion allegations.

With respect to trade facilitation, McAleenan noted that 100 percent of all pre-release functionality within the Automated Commercial Environment has been deployed along with 85 percent of post-release functionality. CBP is still working to determine an effective date for the final deployment and will advise the trade community at least 30 days ahead of time through a Federal Register notice.

Both Brzozowski and Tim Skud, deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for tax, trade and tariff policy, said one of the ways the new administration will actively seek to facilitate trade is by eliminating, simplifying or streamlining regulations that make it difficult for importers and exporters to do business. President Trump recently directed the establishment of regulatory reform teams within federal agencies to focus on this task, and Brzozowski and Skud invited the trade community to submit their ideas to DHS and Treasury. COAC’s Trade Modernization Subcommittee, co-chaired by Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg attorney Lenny Feldman, is also working on various ways to reduce trade-related regulation and cost, such as modernising CBP’s revenue collection process and accelerating the agency’s issuance of rulings.

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