CHICAGO Rep. Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.) introduced
legislation intended to crack down on foreign companies that
withhold millions of dollars in customs duties.
The Customs Training Enhancement Act will facilitate
information-sharing between U.S. Customs and Border Protection,
and the private sector, enabling the government to do a better
job of identifying schemes to import foreign goods without
Blatant cheating by foreign firms has become more
widespread, Lipinski said, referring to the practice
known as circumvention. He added that his bill would provide
customs agents with the critical intelligence they need
to spot the cheaters.
Importers and exporters of goods into the United States have
avoided paying $600 million in duties since 2001, according to
the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO
estimates that 90 percent of all transshipped or mislabeled
items originated in China.
Foreign companies have avoided duties by misclassifying and
undervaluing products or by shipping goods from one country to
another on their way to the United States in order to disguise
the country of origin.
Lipinskis bill would require Customs and Border
Protection to seek out companies and trade groups that have
information that could be used to identify misrepresented
shipments. Those industry experts, in turn, would share the
information directly with agents monitoring imports.
The proposal is modeled on an existing alliance between the
U.S. steel industry and Customs and Border Protection, through
which company and industry officials taught customs agents how
to spot deliberately mislabeled products.
The steel industry has shown us a public-private
partnership that saves taxpayers millions of dollars while
costing the federal government very few, if any,
resources, Lipinski said. We need to expand this
program and fight back against the lying and cheating by
foreign companies that are hurting American taxpayers,
businesses, and workers.