Customs and Border Protection Reauthorization Act Increases Trade Benefits for Small and Mid-size Companies

President Barack Obama signed Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) into law on February 24, 2016. The passage of this act represents one of the few examples of bipartisan agreement, but it has even greater significance for Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and small to mid-size companies. While there are several reasons for these businesses to celebrate the passage of TFTEA, some highlights of the legislation that may have the greatest impact for small to mid-size firms are raising the de minimis level, eliminating paperwork, and reducing costs of returned goods.

Shipments valued below the de minimis level receive expedited clearance at the border; are free of duties and taxes; and do not involve paperwork further than the airway bill. The new law raises the filing threshold for shipments from $200 to $800, providing shippers the same border clearance privileges for low-value cargo shipments that U.S. travelers receive on products brought back from foreign trips. As a result of the higher de minimis level, small and medium-size companies that import low-value components for their assembly operations will reduce logistics costs. The bill also eliminates the enormous amount of time importers and logistics providers spend filing paperwork to clear their goods. Additionally, the rule change helps US companies contemplating exporting by addressing the potential costs of the border clearance process if goods are returned.

For the agency, this legislation finally marks the first steps towards modernizing CPB in almost twenty years and is also the first reauthorization since the founding of Homeland Security in 2003. With this reauthorization, CPB will not only modernize, but it will keep in place successful programs like ACE, ITDS, CEEs, NIPRCC, risk assessment, and partnership programs – such as C-TPAT and CSI. The reauthorization also establishes agency priorities, training requirements, reporting requirements, performance standards and enforcement provisions. In addition to these changes, the legislation also provides information for sharing requirements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other Federal Agencies.

This bill will also improve revenue collection and trade enforcement activities, especially those in respect to anti-dumping countervailing duty enforcement and Intellectual Property Rights violations. It authorizes a new IT platform for import and export transactions and promises to reform the complex duty drawback refund process by 2018.

Please download New Customs Bill Becomes Law by Susan Ross below for more information abouth the substantive legal requirements that will affect importers, customs brokers, and intellectual property rights owners.

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