AAEI sent comments to Sen. Bill Cassidy, (R) LA, on the draft of his proposed bill to modernize U.S. customs law. 

AAEI notes that the current draft bill does not address trade facilitation. “We believe this discussion draft seems to be a departure from the mutual collaboration that the recent generation of traders have come to know as the best and safest way to move forward in our industry. The focus on enforcement is understandable given all the burdens and threats the modern supply chain bears. However, a sharp departure from facilitation ultimately could make trade less safe, more expensive, and opaque.”

AAEI emphasizes two important elements included in the landmark Customs Modernization Act of 1993 (MOD Act), informed compliance and shared responsibility. “The original MOD Act issued a new era in trade facilitation: simplifying required paperwork, modernizing procedures, and harmonizing customs requirements, which slashed costs and time needed to export and import goods. As noted by the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) ‘Reductions in time and costs to trade can thus make the difference between a country seamlessly linking up to an integrated global production chain or being left on the margins of a big part of world trade. Moreover, amid a global slowdown in trade, easing trade processes can provide a critical boost to international trade and the global economy.’”

In the spirit of shared responsibility, AAEI provides Sen. Cassidy with its vision for US. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) trade role over the next 30-years. They include:

Improving the identification of “responsible parties” and limiting the severity and scope of penalties for those parties with limited knowledge of trade transactions. The changes made by the proposal to the penalty provisions of U.S. customs laws may have unintended consequences that could greatly impact less sophisticated actors who have recently started engaging in international trade.

As AAEI’s letter states, “Ultimately it should be up to the trade, as it was 28 years ago, to proactively layout the vision for customs and maintain the original MOD Act’s tenets.”