Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate without amendment (05/11/2015)

(This measure has not been amended since it was introduced. The summary has been expanded because action occurred on the measure.)

Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

TITLE I--TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT

(Sec. 101) This bill directs the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to ensure that CBP partnership programs, such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, provide trade benefits to importers, exporters, and certain other private sector entities that meet program requirements.

(Sec. 102) The Government Accountability Office (GAO) must report to Congress on the effectiveness of CBP enforcement of U.S. customs and trade laws (trade enforcement).

(Sec. 103) CBP shall establish priorities and performance standards to measure levels of achievement of customs modernization, the movement of merchandise into and out of the United States (trade facilitation), and trade enforcement functions and programs.

(Sec. 104) CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shall:

  • establish educational seminars to improve CBP classification and appraisal of imported articles, trade enforcement, and facilitation of international trade; and
  • develop biennially a joint strategic plan for improving trade enforcement and trade facilitation.

(Sec. 106) This bill amends the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) to authorize appropriations for FY2016-FY2018 from the Customs Commercial and Homeland Security Automation Account to complete the development and implementation of the Automated Commercial Environment computer system.

The Customs Border Security Act of 2002 is amended to require CBP to report to Congress on:

  • its incorporation of all core trade processing capabilities into the Automated Commercial Environment computer system to conform with admissibility criteria of federal agencies participating in the International Trade Data System (ITDS);
  • the components of the National Customs Automation Program that have not been implemented; and
  • any additional Program components it has initiated to complete the development, establishment, and implementation of the computer system.

The CBP must update the report as well as:

  • evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of the computer system, and
  • detail monthly the percentage of trade processed in the Automated Commercial Environment since September 30, 2016.

The GAO must report to Congress on:

  • the progress of other federal agencies in accessing and utilizing the Automated Commercial Environment, and
  • the potential cost savings to the government and importers and exporters and the potential benefits to trade enforcement if the identified elements are implemented.

(Sec. 107) This bill amends the Tariff Act of 1930 to require the Department of the Treasury to work with the head of each agency participating in the ITDS and the Interagency Steering Committee to ensure that, among other duties, it:

  • develops and maintains the necessary information technology infrastructure to support the operation of the ITDS,
  • submits all data to the ITDS electronically, and
  • arranges to share information between each agency and the CBP.

(Sec. 108) It shall be a U.S. negotiating objective in any negotiation for a mutual recognition arrangement with a foreign country on partnership programs to seek to ensure the compatibility of that country's partnership programs with CBP partnership programs to enhance trade facilitation and trade enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shall consult with specified congressional committees within 30 days before initiating negotiations and within 30 days before entering into an agreement.

(Sec. 109) Treasury and DHS shall jointly establish a Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee.

(Sec. 110) CBP shall develop and implement CBP-wide Centers of Excellence and Expertise to enhance the economic competitiveness of the United States.

(Sec. 111) DHS shall establish within the CBP Office of International Trade a Commercial Targeting Division (including National Targeting and Analysis Groups) to conduct commercial risk assessment targeting and, when needed, issue trade alerts with respect to cargo destined for the United States.

(Sec. 112) The Treasury Inspector General shall report biennially to Congress on oversight of revenue protection and enforcement measures.

(Sec. 113) DHS and Treasury shall report jointly to Congress on security and revenue measures with respect to merchandise transported in bond.

(Sec. 114) DHS shall establish a program to assign importer of record numbers.

(Sec. 115) CBP shall establish a new importer program that adjusts bond amounts for new importers based on the level of risk assessed for revenue protection.

TITLE II--IMPORT HEALTH AND SAFETY

(Sec. 201) An interagency Import Safety Working Group is established.

(Sec. 202) DHS shall develop, and appropriately update, a joint import safety rapid response plan that sets forth protocols for the CBP to:

  • coordinate federal responses to cargo entering the United States that poses a threat to the health or safety of U.S. consumers, and
  • use in recovering from or mitigating the effects of actions and responses to such an incident.

(Sec. 203) CBP shall ensure that CBP personnel assigned to U.S. ports of entry are effectively trained to ensure the safety and expeditious entry of merchandise into the United States.

TITLE III--IMPORT-RELATED PROTECTION OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

(Sec. 302) The Tariff Act of 1930 is amended to declare that, upon suspicion that merchandise is being imported into the United States in violation of U.S. trademark or copyright infringement laws, CBP shall provide the trademark or copyright owner any information appearing on the merchandise and its packaging and labels, including any unredacted images of them, if testing by the owner would assist in determining a violation. The CBP shall not provide such information if it would compromise an ongoing law enforcement investigation or national security.

(Sec. 303) A technology, product, service, device, or its component that is imported into the United States in violation of infringement of U.S. copyright laws may be seized and forfeited by CBP.

(Sec. 304) DHS shall authorize a process for the enforcement of a copyright of an owner who has applied for registration of merchandise with the U.S. Copyright Office to the same extent as if the copyright were registered with the Office, including by sharing information, images, samples of the suspected infringing merchandise.

(Sec. 305) DHS shall establish within ICE a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center to coordinate U.S. activities to prevent the import and export of goods that infringe intellectual property rights.

(Sec. 306) CBP, ICE, and DHS shall take specified actions for enforcement of intellectual property rights.

(Sec. 310) The CBP and ICE shall report to Congress on intellectual property rights enforcement.

(Sec. 311) DHS shall develop and carry out an educational campaign to inform travelers entering or leaving the United States about the legal, economic, and public health and safety implications of acquiring merchandise that infringes intellectual property rights outside the United States and importing such merchandise into the United States in violation of U.S. law.

TITLE IV--EVASION OF ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion Act of 2015

(Sec. 402) This bill amends the Tariff Act of 1930 to require CBP to:

  • investigate other federal agency claims of evasion of antidumping (AD) or countervailing duties (CVD), including any cash deposits or other security, with respect to covered merchandise entered into the United States; and
  • take specified enforcement actions if necessary, including suspension of liquidation.

This requirement applies to goods from Mexico and Canada as well as goods from elsewhere.

(Sec. 403) CBP shall report to Congress on its efforts to prevent and investigate the evasion of antidumping duty and countervailing duty orders with respect to covered merchandise entered into the United States.

TITLE V--AMENDMENTS TO ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAWS

(Sec. 501) This bill amends the Tariff Act of 1930 with respect to administration and enforcement of AD and CVD orders.

Neither the administering authority (the Secretary of Commerce, or another U.S. officer given the responsibility by law) nor the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), as the case may be, is required to determine, or make any adjustments to, a countervailable subsidy rate or weighted average dumping margin based on any assumptions about information the interested party would have provided if it had complied with a request for information.

The administering authority and the USITC, when relying during an AD or CVD proceeding on secondary information rather than on information obtained in the course of an investigation or review, shall not be required to corroborate any dumping margin or CVD in a separate segment of the same proceeding.

The administering authority may use a countervailable subsidy rate or dumping margin meeting specified criteria, including the highest rate or margin, when making an inference adverse to a party's interests.

(Sec. 502) The USITC shall not determine that there is no material injury or threat of material injury to a domestic industry from imports merely because that industry is profitable or its performance has recently improved.

This bill includes gross profits, operating profits, net profits, and ability to service debt among the relevant economic factors the USITC must evaluate in examining the impact of imports of merchandise on a domestic industry in material injury determinations.

The USITC, in determining market share and the factors affecting financial performance when domestic producers internally transfer significant production of the domestic like product for the production of a downstream article and sell significant production of the domestic like product in the merchant market, may no longer need to find that the production of the domestic like product sold in the merchant market is not generally used in the production of that downstream article.

(Sec. 503) The administering authority shall consider to be outside the ordinary course of trade any particular market situation that prevents a proper comparison with the export price or constructed export price.

The administering authority may use another calculation methodology than the ordinary one in determining the constructed value of subject merchandise being imported at less than fair value if a particular market situation exists where the cost of materials and fabrication or other processing of any kind does not accurately reflect the cost production in the ordinary course of trade.

(Sec. 504) This bill revises requirements regarding administering authority determinations as to whether there are reasonable grounds to believe or suspect that a foreign like product is being sold at less than cost of production in AD investigations or reviews. Information supplied by an interested party, based upon observed prices or constructed prices or costs, may no longer constitute a reasonable ground to believe or suspect such a sales condition. The administering authority in making its determinations, however, shall request information necessary to calculate the constructed value and cost of production of subject merchandise in such investigations or reviews.

The administering authority, in valuing the factors of production to determine the normal value of merchandise exported from a nonmarket economy country, may disregard price or cost values without further investigation if it determines that broadly available export subsidies existed or instances of subsidization occurred with respect to those price or cost values or if they were subject to an AD order.

(Sec. 505) Certain factors are specified for the administering authority to consider when deciding whether it would be unduly burdensome in CVD or AD investigations and reviews to examine voluntary responses from exporters or producers which are not the subjects of the investigation or review.

TITLE VI--ADDITIONAL TRADE ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTION

Subtitle A--Trade Enforcement

(Sec. 601) This bill amends the Trade Act of 1974 to revise requirements for the identification of U.S. trade expansion priorities.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) shall consult with Congress to prioritize, investigate, and resolve acts, policies, or practices of foreign countries that raise concerns with respect to obligations under the World Trade Organization Agreements or any other trade agreement to which the United States is a party, or that otherwise creates barriers to U.S. goods, services, or investment.

(Sec. 602) The USTR may take actions to suspend concessions or other obligations under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act if:

  • certain action has terminated that was taken by the USTR to protect U.S. rights under any trade agreement or to eliminate an act, policy, or practice of a foreign country that violates that agreement or burdens or restricts U.S. commerce;
  • the petitioner or any representative of the domestic industry that would benefit from reinstatement of such action requests the USTR for reinstatement; and
  • the USTR meets certain requirements.

(Sec. 603) USITC, under the Trade Act of 1974, shall make an import monitoring tool available on a website to allow public access to data on the volume and value of imported goods to assess whether such data has changed over time.

(Sec. 604) There is established within the Office of the USTR:

  • an Interagency Trade Enforcement Center, and
  • the position of Chief Manufacturing Negotiator.

(Sec. 606) The USTR may take certain discretionary trade action against foreign countries that engage in unreasonable acts, policies, or practices that fail to enforce their environmental laws effectively.

(Sec. 607) A Trade Enforcement Trust Fund is established for deposit of amounts equivalent to AD and CVD receipts, which the USTR may use to seek to enforce obligations under the WTO Agreements and free trade agreements, monitor foreign country implementation of similar obligations, and investigate and respond to complaint petitions.

The GAO shall:

  • analyze the trade enforcement expenditures of each federal agency with trade responsibilities, and
  • recommend additional employees and resources each agency may need to enforce effectively free trade agreements to which the United States is a party.

(Sec. 608) CBP shall ensure that appropriate resources address concerns that honey as well as illicit cultural property, archaeological or ethnological materials, and fish, wildlife, and plants are being imported into the United States in violation of U.S. customs laws.

(Sec. 609) DHS shall deposit into a special account certain interest earned on amounts realized by CBP on antidumping duties or countervailing duties assessed on or after October 1, 2014. The interest shall be included in any CBP duty distributions to affected domestic producers for qualifying expenses.

Subtitle B--Intellectual Property Rights Protection

(Sec. 611) The Office of the USTR shall now include one presidentially appointed Chief Innovation and Intellectual Property Negotiator, who shall conduct trade negotiations and enforce trade agreements with respect to U.S. intellectual property as well as take appropriate actions to address foreign acts, policies, and practices with a significant adverse impact on the value of U.S. innovation.

(Sec. 612) The USTR shall develop, not later than 90 days after submission of the National Trade Estimate, an action plan of certain benchmarks for achieving adequate protection of intellectual property rights for each foreign country placed and remaining on a priority watch list for at least one year.

Appropriations are authorized for the USTR Office to provide assistance to any developing country on the priority watch list to comply with the benchmarks in the action plan.

TITLE VII--CURRENCY MANIPULATION

Subtitle A--Investigation of Currency Undervaluation

Currency Undervaluation Investigation Act

(Sec. 702) This bill amends the Tariff Act of 1930 to require the administering authority, upon the filing of a petition by an interested party, to initiate a CVD investigation or review to determine whether currency undervaluation by the government of, or any public entity within, a foreign country is providing, directly or indirectly, a countervailable subsidy to its exporters or products.

(Sec. 704) An export subsidy, under current law, is one that is, in law or in fact, contingent upon export performance, alone or as one of two or more conditions. The fact that an export subsidy may also be provided in circumstances not involving export shall not, for that reason alone, according to this Act, mean it cannot be considered export contingent and actionable under a CVD and AD proceeding.

(Sec. 705) This subtitle applies to goods from Mexico and Canada as well as goods from elsewhere.

Subtitle B--Engagement on Currency Exchange Rate and Economic Policies

(Sec. 711) The Treasury shall report to Congress on the macroeconomic and currency exchange rate policies of each major trading partner of the United States.

The President may take specified remedial action against any such countries that fail to adopt policies to correct the undervaluation of their currency and trade surplus with the United States.

(Sec. 712) An Advisory Committee on International Exchange Rate Policy is established.

TITLE VIII--PROCESS FOR CONSIDERATION OF TEMPORARY DUTY SUSPENSIONS AND REDUCTIONS

American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2015

(Sec. 802) It is the sense of Congress that it should consider a miscellaneous tariff bill not later than 180 days after the USITC and the Department of Commerce issue reports on any proposed duty suspensions and reductions.

(Sec. 803) The appropriate congressional committees shall establish, and publish on their publicly available websites, a process for the submission and consideration of legislation for proposed duty suspensions and reductions as well as a miscellaneous tariff bill including them, consistent with certain requirements.

(Sec. 804) The USITC shall report to Congress, by May 1, 2018, and May 1, 2020, on the effects of such suspensions and reductions on the U.S. economy.

(Sec. 805) The exercise of functions under this title shall not be subject to judicial review.

TITLE IX--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

(Sec. 901) It is the sense of Congress that the USTR should encourage other countries to establish commercially meaningful de minimis values for express and postal shipments that are exempt from customs duties and taxes and from certain other entry documentation requirements.

This bill amends the Tariff Act of 1930 to increase from $200 to $800 the general de minimis aggregate fair retail value in the country of shipment of duty-free articles imported by one person on one day.

(Sec. 902) Specified deadlines shall now apply to trade and customs revenue consultation requirements of the Safety and Accountability for Every Port Act for DHS.

(Sec. 903) This bill also prescribes or revises requirements under the Tariff Act of 1930 and the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States for:

  • certain penalties for customs brokers convicted of an act of terrorism;
  • duty-free treatment of certain federal property exported and reimported without an advance in value or improvement in condition;
  • duties on warranty repairs or alterations of articles exported from and then returned to the United States;
  • exemption from duty treatment of the residue of bulk cargo contained in instruments of international traffic previously exported from the United States;
  • drawback (refund of paid customs duties) on eligible merchandise imported into the United States and later exported or destroyed;
  • assignment of CBP employees to perform customs services for charter flight passengers and their baggage;
  • country of origin marking of certain castings imported into the United States; and
  • elimination of the consumptive demand exception to the prohibition on the importation of goods made with convict labor, forced labor, or indentured labor.

(Sec. 907) When the President submits to the Senate, under the Trade Act of 1974, a nomination for appointment as a Deputy USTR, the submission shall include information on the country, regional offices, and functions of the Office of the USTR with respect to which that individual will have responsibility.

(Sec. 908) The USTR shall conduct a series of investigations and assessments regarding competitiveness issues facing the U.S. economy and competitive conditions for certain key U.S. industries.

(Sec. 909) The CBP Commissioner shall report to Congress within one year after entering into any agreement under:

  • the program for entering into reimbursable fee agreements for the provision of CBP services, upon the request of any persons, at existing CBP-serviced facilities, at new facilities, and at land border facilities; or
  • the pilot program authorizing the CBP to enter into partnerships with private sector and government entities at ports of entry for certain services and to accept certain donations.

(Sec. 913) The quarterly wage report for each employee which an employer must submit to a state under the income and eligibility verification system required by the Social Security Act shall, beginning January 1, 2017, include information that permits the classification of such employees into occupational categories as found in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system in order to analyze and evaluate occupations to improve the labor market for workers and industries.

The Department of Labor shall:

  • make occupational information received from the states available to other state and federal agencies, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics; and
  • establish and implement safeguards for the dissemination and the use of such occupational information.

(Sec. 914) Certain trade policies regarding Israel are declared.

TITLE X--OFFSETS

(Sec. 1001) This bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to prescribe requirements for revocation, denial, or limitation of a passport for individuals with seriously delinquent tax debt in excess of $50,000.

(Sec. 1002) This bill amends the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 to allow, between July 8 and July 28, 2025, specified customs user fees for the processing of merchandise formally entered or released into the United States.

The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act is also amended to extend through June 30, 2025, the increase from 0.21% ad valorem to 0.3464% ad valorem in the customs user fees for the processing of merchandise formally entered or released into the United States which is scheduled to begin on December 1, 2015.