Trade Advisory Committee Meets, Announces Creation of New Working Group

The Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee, or COAC, met in Boston in late July 2016 to discuss a number of subjects related to trade, including trade enforcement, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, antidumping duties, and more. Additionally, the COAC announced the creation of a new working group with the purpose of enforcing illegal importation of certain goods.

The New Working Group

According to a report on the committee meeting published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the specific aim of the new working group is to develop solutions to enforce the prohibition of importation of those goods that are manufactured using forced labor in conjunction with the repeal of a provision found in the Tariff Act of 1930, also known as the Smoot-Hawley Act. The repealed provision was known as the “consumptive demand” loophole, which stated that all goods and merchandise that were manufactured in whole or in part with indentured labor or forced labor were illegal to import, with the exception of those goods that were manufactured “as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States.”

The piece of legislation that repealed the provision is the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2015. Thanks to the repeal, the new working group is committing to redefining and developing standards focused on integrity in manufacturing/importation, as well as enforcement of those standards.

According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection article, the group will also be responsible for the following:

  • Enhanced border protection;
  • Enhanced supply chain security;
  • Development of international efforts regarding the harmonization of customs procedures;
  • Safety of imports; and
  • The facilitation of trade through automation process.

The collaboration at the July 2016 was highly praised by the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, R. Gil Kerlikowske.

Changes to Importation of Goods

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, along with Customs and Border Protections’ renewed commitment to enforcement of the prohibitions of goods manufactured using forced labor, will certainly affect a number of U.S. business and their imports. In fact, some products to the United States – like certain fish from Southeast Asia that is caught by slaves there – have already been banned.

Understanding New Import Rules and Regulations

If you are business in Massachusetts or surrounding areas that regularly imports goods from foreign countries, you may have questions about how the new working group’s efforts, as well as the new legislation, may affect your goods. To ensure that you are operating within compliance of the law, it is advised that you contact the experienced Massachusetts customs and import attorney at the Law Offices of Paula M. Connelly. Paula M. Connelly has over 25 years’ worth of experience advising clients and developing custom solutions. Contact our law offices today at 781-897-1771.

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