Trade’s Unfinished Business: Customs Reauthorization

Apr 08, 2015 - 9:00am

Former Executive Director, Office of Policy

As Washington debates renewal of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), several other pieces of pending trade legislation also are calling out for attention. One of these is the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, also known as Customs Reauthorization.

In 2014, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauded the World Trade Organization for overcoming obstacles blocking the Trade Facilitation Agreement and the broader Bali Package. The agreement advances reforms to streamline the passage of goods across borders by cutting red tape and bureaucracy in ways that could boost the world economy by as much as $1 trillion, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Chokepoints at the borders — such as excessive customs mandates, redundant security programs, inadequate infrastructure, and burdensome regulation — reduce the all-critical predictability of the supply chain, and have the same detrimental impact on trade as tariffs. Reducing these supply chain barriers could increase global GDP by as much as 5% and global trade by 15%, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The modernization of international borders starts at home. Limiting cross-border friction for the movement of goods will boost the global competitiveness of U.S. businesses while reducing costs for highly-integrated supply chains.

This is why the Chamber supports the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act. It will address checkpoints at our borders, lower transaction costs of trade, and provide needed resources for trade facilitation, security, customs modernization and the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

This is a bipartisan effort. You can hardly find anyone opposed to easing the burden of bureaucracy, improving security and modernizing our border processes. As a result, you see a win-win for both government and business. You can learn much more about this at the Chamber’s 2015 Global Supply Chain Summit on May 12.

It is unclear whether TPA will be renewed as part of an omnibus trade bill that could include Customs Reauthorization or if it might advance in parallel as stand-alone legislation. In any event, the customs bill must not be left behind. The Chamber reaffirms our commitment to ensure approval of a Customs Reauthorization bill that will set the global standard for trade facilitation.

About the Author

About the Author

Former Executive Director, Office of Policy

Adam W. Salerno is former executive director in the Office of Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.