Thursday, September 26, 2013

Textile Customs Enforcement Bill Filed in Senate

Senators Kay Hagan (Dem., N.C.) and Lindsey Graham (Rep., S.C.) have introduced a bill, S.1412, to provide the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Department of the Treasury with authority to more aggressively enforce customs and trade laws relating to textile and apparel articles. The bill provides for the seizure and forfeiture of textile articles for which preference under a trade agreement was fraudulently claimed. It further provides that fines on illegal textile shipments be directed toward textile enforcement and "referral fees" to persons who provide information to Customs that results in uncovering illegal activity. It would also mandate an increase in textile enforcement staffing. It calls for the implementation of an electronic tracking system for imports under the various free trade agreements. The bill would "establish a new importer program that directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection to adjust bond amounts for new importers of textile and apparel articles based on the level of risk with respect to protection of the revenue of the Federal Government presented by each new importer." It further would require any non-resident importer to name a resident agent in the State in which the port of entry is located so that the resident agent can be held accountable for any illegal activity. Finally, it directs the Commissioner of Customs and the head of the Office of Textiles and Apparel of the Department of Commerce to "establish an electronic Textile and Apparel Manufacturing Supplier Registry pilot program to serve as a centralized database of United States producers and manufacturers of thread, yarn, fabric, and apparel that supply products to companies in the United States, countries that are parties to the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement, and other free trade agreements or eligible for preference programs for countries in the Western Hemisphere."

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