U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has always played a role in enforcing the antidumping and countervailing duty laws, not only in ensuring collection of the revenue but also in identifying relevant shipments and activities. In recent years CBP has taken a number of actions to expand and formalize that role. These include the establishment of the AD/CVD Policies and Procedures Division within the Office of International Trade and a dedicated AD/CVD Collections Team in the Office of Administration (formerly the Finance Division); expanding the use of Single Entry Bonds as additional security on selected entries; and continuing its Steel Seminar program with AISI providing training for Customs officers and customs brokers on steel classification and AD/CVD concerns. AD/CVD activities by CBP are now regularly discussed in a quarterly Update and a listing of enforcement results made available on the CBP website: .
Several new developments have occurred in 2016, both administrative actions by CBP and new authorities and responsibilities given to CBP by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA). Title IV of the TFTEA contains special provisions for investigation by CBP of allegations of evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties. This section, which becomes effective 180 days after the February 24, 2016 signing of the Act, will be discussed at more length in a future column. Some other provisions of the TFTEA will be discussed below.
One administrative action taken by CBP in early 2016 is the selective requirement for “live entry” for imports of cut to length steel plate from China, which may also be extended to additional commodities where deemed appropriate. Where “live entry” is required, the importer must complete the entry process, filing the Entry Summary CF 7501 and depositing all required duties prior to release of the merchandise from Customs custody. Although this requirement is often used for importers where there is concern about the ability to pay duties, the process also ensures that CBP has the opportunity to review the required entry documents before releasing the goods. Where steel products are involved, this includes review of mill test certificates and commercial invoices, not required to be provided before release is allowed under normal procedures. The decision to require “live entry” is made in consultation with Commerce and on past experience by CBP with the importer and/or the supplier. There is a history of issues in the cut to length plate case with China; other commodities with ongoing issues may be added as well.
There are a number of provisions in the TFTEA affecting antidumping and countervailing duty activities in addition to the specific evasion procedures. These provisions are not limited to antidumping and countervailing duty concerns, but AD and CVD issues are mentioned in each. There are several reporting requirements – on the effectiveness of trade enforcement activities, oversight of revenue protection and enforcement activities, and the development of performance statistics – that require information on AD and CVD matters, which will provide further data tending to keep these issues before Congress. While AD and CVD have long been one of the Priority Trade Issues (PTIs) monitored by CBP, the TFTEA makes this a statutory requirement. The TFTEA mandates educational seminars for Customs officers – such as those cosponsored with AISI mentioned above -and requires AD and CVD issues to be included.
There are two programs that may have significant effect on certain importers. One is the Importer of Record – IOR – program, which requires CBP to secure information sufficient to verify the existence of an applicant for an importer number, to secure sufficient information to identify linkages or affiliations between importers, to identify address changes and changes in corporate structure, and to develop a database to keep such information current. The Importer Risk Assessment program will provide additional product screening and may lead to adjustments in bond amounts. While particularly aimed at new importers and non-resident importers, the risk assessment guidelines and bond amount revisions may encompass all importers.
CBP is also ordered to develop regulations requiring brokers to secure information verifying the identity of an importer, to verify the authenticity of the information acquired, and to maintain records of the information collected.
Many of these programs and requirements affect other matters, such as intellectual property and product safety, but either specify AD and CVD, or PTIs in general, as specific issues; or cover areas, such as importer identity, that have been past AD and CVD concerns. Taken together with past actions, it is clear that both the oversight and proactive responses of CBP with regard to AD and CVD will be expanding.
Steven W. Baker
AIIS Customs Committee Chair