Senate panel tasks customs agents with blocking subsidized imports

Customs agents would be required to investigate imports that potentially violate anti-dumping and countervailing-duty orders under legislation that sailed though the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). It would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to work more closely with U.S. businesses that feel unfairly threatened by imports that violate trade laws.

“Evasion can take different forms, such as mislabeling products or submitting fraudulent documents, but its goal is always the same: to conceal an import's true country of manufacturing to evade legitimate import duties,” panel Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in his opening remarks. “These practices rob our government of hundreds of millions of dollars in duty revenue, and they deny U.S. producers relief from unfair trade.”

The bill passed by voice vote after Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) withdrew her amendment to attach her legislation creating a director of Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement, a “watch list” of bad actors requiring extra scrutiny and a “three strikes and you're out” policy that would prohibit habitual violators from bringing goods into the country. Baucus said the committee would consider Stabenow's Protect American Innovation Act when it considers a customs reauthorization bill later this year.