Signals from CBP Point to Enhanced Enforcement Toolbox

April 11, 2024

Recent signals from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) demonstrate the agency’s efforts to continue refining its suite of enforcement tools. Interested parties should be aware of CBP’s strategies and approaches to respond to suspected noncompliance.

CBP has seven Priority Trade Issues, textiles being one. A recent summary of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP’s strategy to combat illicit textile trade points to in-person visits by CBP/DHS personnel to “high-risk” foreign facilities to verify their qualifications for advantageous duty treatment under USMCA. CBP made 49 such visits last year, and is currently on pace for about 100 this year. This strategy builds upon CBP’s growing experience with foreign verifications under the 2016 Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA), which similarly aims to identify and redress avoidance of antidumping and countervailing duties.

As part of the strategy, the agency is also scrutinizing illicit shipments below the de minimis threshold (i.e., with a fair retail value in the country of shipment of not more than $800) using expanded targeting, laboratory and isotopic testing, and focused enforcement operations. CBP’s enhanced enforcement efforts come after a record-breaking year for de minimis shipments — CBP processed over 1 billion de minimis shipments in 2023, a nearly 250% increase over 2018. Additionally, as reported by the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, 62% of all de minimis shipments entering the United States in 2022 came from the People’s Republic of China, and over 30% from just two companies dealing solely or partly in textile products.

The Select Committee previously flagged this fact pattern as potentially indicating illicit use of streamlined de minimis import procedures to skirt the provisions of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”). Since then, DHS has signaled its intent to expand the UFLPA Entity List as part of its textiles strategy, given the Xinjiang region’s vast cotton production. DHS is also considering expanding the Entity List to other industries.

This week the CBP also announced its creation of a dedicated Forced Labor Case Management System (CMS) to streamline UFLPA procedures (not only limited to textiles). When the CMS goes live, it will consolidate various existing information collection streams with the intent of easing the burden on interested parties and CBP with the goal of allowing agency personnel to spend more time on enforcement.

CLK supports clients’ trade compliance efforts, including ensuring that their sourcing patterns conform to U.S. law.