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Customs Reform Legislation Introduced In The Senate

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Legislation giving U.S. Customs and Border Protection expanded authority and funding to combat textile import fraud has been introduced in the Senate. It is a companion measure to the Textile Enforcement and Security Act that is pending in the House with 25 co-sponsors.

As the bill was introduced by Sens. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., David Hastings, chairman of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said the measure "will send a clear message that the U.S. government will not allow fraudulent activity on imported textile and apparel goods to continue."

The House and Senate bills include provisions that would establish an electronic verification system for textile and apparel imports; allow the Department of Homeland Security to use fines and penalties to help pay for investigations and training, increase the staff at high-volume ports for textiles and apparel, and establish a program to ensure that resident agents are held accountable for products imported under their name.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection currently collects more than $25 billion in duties annually, and more than 42 percent of the duties are collected on textile and apparel imports. In spite of this, textile manufacturers contend that many imports are entering this country undervalued for customs purposes, and there continues to be a problem with illegal transshipments, particularly through countries with which the United States has preferential trade agreements.

August 10, 2010