Photo Credit: CBP Officers inspect cargo arriving to the Port of Philadelphia. photo by James Tourtellotte. Original source image is at: https://flic.kr/p/pkGFtN
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, or TFTEA, passed Congress and was signed by President Obama in February, 2016. TFTEA was also the first reauthorization of Customs and Border Protection since the legacy U.S. Customs Service was moved from Treasury to the newly-created Department of Homeland Security after the attacks of September 11th.
Commissioner Kerlikowske said about the Act at the time:
“The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act aligns with these goals by enhancing CBP’s ability to prevent violations and take strong actions against violators. It bolsters our ability to prevent and disrupt the flow of counterfeit goods into the U.S., a critical tool to safeguarding U.S. intellectual property rights. The Act also formally recognizes CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs), one of the agency’s major efforts to modernize and streamline operations by consolidating certain operations by industry sectors. It also strengthens CBP’s efforts around Preclearance, creating mechanisms to expand and fund these agreements, further extending CBP’s security capabilities abroad. And, imperative to human rights protections around the world, the Act eliminates obstacles to preventing imports made with forced or child labor into the United States.”
In addition, the De Minimis value was raised from $200 to $800. Additional enforcement mechanisms were added for AD/CVD, forced labor and intellectual property rights (IPR) violations.
What has drawn the greatest attention of the importing community are the actions being taken under Title IV, Section 421 of TFTEA, the Enforce and Protect Act of 2015 (EAPA). This part establishes formal procedures for submitting and investigating antidumping or countervailing allegations of evasion against U.S. importers.
An attorney from a major US law firm specializing in Customs matters said that they have seen more audits for TFTEA and EAPA in the past three months in than in the previous three years combined. His advice? Assume every CF28 (Request for Information) for an existing antidumping case is subject to an EAPA investigation.
An EAPA investigation is not the same as a US company filing with Commerce alleging dumping in order to get a case opened. EAPA targets companies deliberately evading an order and gives CBP greater investigatory powers. The sources of these leads come in through CBP’s e-Allegations web portal and the source is usually a disgruntled employee.
As we touched in this week’s RIM report, AD/CVD is a priority trade item for the government. Any activity by an importer in this area, whether filing 03 antidumping entries or responding to inquiries from the government should be treated very carefully. At RIM, we strongly suggest consulting with our compliance team and counsel whenever antidumping or countervailing merchandise is involved.