For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
I am pleased that Congress passed H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, signed into law today by President Obama.
Most importantly for the Department of Homeland Security, this law is the first comprehensive authorization of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since the creation of DHS in 2003. This is the result of careful collaboration by four Congressional committees establishing a modern foundation for CBP’s critical missions: countering terrorism and transnational crime, advancing comprehensive border security and management, and enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel.
Second, this law provides authorities to strengthen CBP’s revenue collection and trade enforcement activities. For example, H.R. 644 authorizes new and strengthens existing enforcement capabilities regarding Intellectual Property Rights violations and Anti-Dumping Countervailing Duty enforcements. It also formally establishes CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise, which are 10 industry-specific centers nationwide that answer inquiries from importers. These Centers help enhance economic competitiveness, improve trade enforcement efforts, provide uniform enforcement of trade laws and regulations at ports of entry, and build industry expertise within CBP.
Third, this law strengthens our Nation’s homeland security by authorizing and establishing new means to finance the expansion of CBP’s Preclearance program for international travelers. Preclearance allows immigration, customs, and agriculture inspection of each U.S.-bound traveler on foreign soil, prior to boarding a direct flight to the United States. This provides a tremendous security benefit, because a trained U.S. law enforcement officer interviews every traveler before the flight takes off. Preclearance is already in place in 15 airports worldwide, and in May 2015 I announced 10 additional airports in nine countries that we’ve prioritized for preclearance. With the passage of this law, CBP is now better positioned to expand Preclearance locations and meet our goal of processing 33 percent of US-bound air travelers through Preclearance by 2024.
Finally, this law authorizes continued funding for operations and maintenance of the Automated Commercial Environment, or “ACE,” system. ACE is the backbone of the U.S. Government’s “Single Window” system for imports. With “Single Window,” by December 2016, the private sector will be able to use just one portal to transmit information to 47 government agencies about exports and imports, thereby eliminating over 200 different forms and streamlining the trade process. This is a key step in modernizing the customs process.
I commend Congress for their bipartisan efforts on a law that significantly strengthens the missions of CBP and the entire Department of Homeland Security.