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American Shipper

U.S. Senate sends Customs bill to Obama

Trade groups, which worked for more than seven years to get a Customs reauthorization, applauded Congress for completing work on legislation that streamlines trade compliance functions and strengthens enforcement of trade laws.

   International traders are anticipating smoother sailing for future cross-border shipments thanks to Customs modernization legislation the Senate passed Thursday.
   The House approved the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 in December and President Obama is expected to soon sign the bill into law. 
   The legislation reauthorizes programs and policies for U.S. Customs and Border Protection and sets spending guidelines for congressional appropriators.
   The Customs bill focuses on automating and reorganizing compliance and enforcement programs to reduce delays and transaction costs for international shipments. The measure also provides additional legal authority and resources to CBP and other agencies to better protect intellectual property rights.
   Trade groups, which worked for more than seven years to get a Customs reauthorization bill, applauded the Senate vote.
   “By removing unnecessary chokepoints to imports and exports, this bill calls for common sense steps that will improve our nation’s national security while better facilitating legitimate trade. Now, as the World Trade Organization makes progress on its Trade Facilitation Agreement, today’s Congressional action will help set the global standard for how trade and travel should move across modern borders,” Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.
   The Customs bill also raises the de minimus level to $800 from $200, meaning that more shipments will fall under the low-value category that is eligible for simplified customs procedures. Less paperwork and fees for small shipments are expected to support e-commerce, especially for small and medium-size enterprises. The Express Association of America, which represents package delivery companies FedEx, UPS, DHL and TNT, was among those that praised the Senate action.
   Other components of the bill address the International Trade Data System and create greater benefits for participants in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism.