AAEI Assured Companion to Cassidy Enforcement Bill Coming

December 27, 2023 – Sen. Bill Cassidy introduced his long-awaited Customs Modernization legislation (S.3431) this month, which he says will update U.S. customs law. The bill does not include any of the trade facilitation measures that his office sought and received from AAEI and the U.S. trade community last June. The bill also does not include any of the trade facilitation measures that the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) recommended. The senator’s staff refers to the legislation as an “enforcement bill” and it appears to be similar to the language the senator first proposed in 2021. A companion “facilitation bill” is forthcoming.

AAEI’s Mitchell Hart reports that Sen. Cassidy’s staff offered further explanation:

  • The introduction of the enforcement bill without facilitation provisions was done due to its being ready and not in lieu of a larger customs modernization package.
  • While the enforcement bill is being sent to the Finance Committee, they want to pass Customs Modernization as a package that includes the enforcement bill. The forthcoming facilitation bill is still being worked on, and possibly a third ACE and technology enhancement bill, as well.
  • The senator’s staff noted that they are still working through all the feedback received regarding facilitation. 

AAEI Releases 2023 Membership Value for Investment Report

December 27, 2023 – AAEI released the Association’s 2023 Membership Value for Investment Report today, tracking the progress AAEI made this year on trade’s biggest issues. The report also highlights the value of AAEI’s work for members and summarizes expanded member benefits including additional professional staff.
AAEI details the year’s gains on seven major trade issues in the report, including:

  1. Forced Labor Engagement with CBP and DHS
  2. NextGen Customs (Customs Modernization)
  3. Export Controls & Sanctions
  4. Mass Liquidation Functionality for Drawback Claims
  5. AI and Emerging Technology in Trade
  6. Engagement with CBP’s Centers of Excellence & Expertise
  7. Impact of Possible Government Shutdown on Trade

“The work demonstrates our resolute belief that trade matters and reinforces our commitment to forge a trade renaissance in the United States,” says AAEI Chair Ted Sherman in his Letter from the Chair. Read AAEI’s 2023 Value for Investment Report.

COAC Wraps Up 16th Term

December 27, 2023 – The members of the 16th Term of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) held its final meeting last week with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). COAC provided final reports to CBP with a variety of recommendations from the trade industry. CBP has closed applications for COAC’s 17th Term. CBP is expected to announce the members of the 17th Term early next year.

CBP Implements Phase 2 for Mobile Collections & Receipts Testing

December 27, 2023 – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced last Friday a new test program allowing electronic payment methods, including credit cards, for specific commercial vessel taxes and fees. This initiative aims to streamline payment processes and enhance efficiency for businesses.
CBP plans to begin the test no earlier than January 16, 2024, and continue for two years. Commercial vessels arriving at maritime ports of entry can participate in this voluntary test, facilitating payments through the existing Mobile Collections & Receipts (MCR) system’s payment portal at eCBP or directly at the ports of entry.
During this period, CBP will still accept cash or check payments at ports of entry, providing multiple options for payment.

Trade Compliance Burdens Increased for Service Providers

December 27, 2023 – U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice, Commerce, and the Treasury jointly released a compliance directive last week called, “Know Your Cargo: Reinforcing Best Practices to Ensure the Safe and Compliant Transport of Goods in Maritime and Other Forms of Transportation,” aimed at strengthening compliance within a wider range of entities within international supply chains. The increased compliance obligations apply to businesses including “vessel owners, charterers, exporters, managers, brokers, shipping companies, freight forwarders, commodities traders, and financial institutions.”
The note includes indicators of how malign actors try to exploit global supply chains and engage in sanctions or export control evasion. These methods include manipulating location or identification data, falsifying cargo and vessel documents, ship-to-ship transfers, and frequent registration changes, among others. The note also includes a list of compliance practices that could help entities participating in maritime and transportation industries to identify potential regulatory evasion efforts. Read the full notice here

EU Section 232 Retaliatory Tariffs Suspended Until 2025

December 27, 2023 – The European Commission implemented a regulation this week extending a pause on retaliatory tariffs on about $6 billion worth of American exports that were expected to kick in on January 1, 2024. The extension is to last until March 31, 2025, after the next U.S. administration takes office.
The U.S. and EU struck an agreement, offering new Section 232 exclusions for steel and aluminum imports from the EU while extending tariff rate quotas (TRQs) and averting EU retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. Notably, the TRQs initially covered less than half of these imports, with the exclusions now encompassing a significant share. Administered quarterly, the EU aimed to expand this system across its entirety and enhance its frequency.
The U.S. and EU have been negotiating an agreement to prevent tariffs and retaliatory tariffs from being reinstated and to resolve the dispute over steel and aluminum trade that began in 2018. 
Read the European Commission’s regulation here.