Congress To Vote on Customs Bill With Strong Enforcement Remedies

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House and Senate lawmakers on Wednesday announced a deal that would bolster US customs enforcement, among the key trade items on President Obama’s legislative agenda.

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After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, top lawmakers said they had reconciled their differences on the measure that funds the US Customs and Border Protection agency, streamlines rules to stop importers from skirting anti-dumping and countervailing duties, adds new protections for intellectual property and provides more tools to crack down on currency manipulation.

The House Rules Committee is set to take up the measure on Thursday afternoon, setting it up for floor consideration on Friday.

The bill contains a new trust fund for trade enforcement and making the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center a permanent agency.

The measure came up short of providing a new process to consider a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill.

Instead, the measure contains “a sense of Congress” provision that the committees are urged to move forward with such a measure after holding consultations with the House, Senate and members of the public.

Steelmakers and manufacturers support provisions in the  Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion (ENFORCE) Act, which was included in the conference committee from the Senate’s original bill, that would create a transparent and regularized process for CBP to review and act to reclassify imports that have been found to be evading trade remedy orders.

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“We’ve been urging them to use the senate version in the customs bill conference,” said Thomas J. Gibson, president of the American Iron & Steel Institute.

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