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Entry Requirements for de Minimis Goods Would Help in Forced Labor Enforcement, NCBFAA Says

CBP should recognize imports of goods under the $800 de minimis threshold as entries, as a way to help prevent low value goods made with forced labor from coming into the U.S., the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America said in comments to DHS on implementing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. "By treating the commercial de minimis exemption instead as an entry of merchandise, the Government can continue to promote the administrative ease that section 321 affords legitimate gift and personal use shipments, while also ensuring goods imported under the commercial de minimis exemption are eligible and admissible and pose no threat to our country’s economy, safety, health, or security and particularly are free of forced labor," the trade group said.

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About half "of all de minimis merchandise already is released as a Type-86 entry requiring the owner, purchaser or customs brokers to file the declaration," the NCBFAA said. "The other half is cleared based only on manifest information that any party may provide in order to request section 321 release. Treating all 321 de minimis transactions as entries constituting customs business would require well-trained customs brokers to oversee and supervise such transactions." Under the NCBFAA's proposal, an importer of record wouldn't be required, it said. Instead, "the U.S. (or vetted foreign) owner or purchaser of the merchandise or, when appropriately designated, a customs broker holding a license under 19 U.S.C. 1641, should constitute the parties eligible to file entry for such merchandise."

CBP's existing communications around forced labor compliance aren't nearly sufficient, NCBFAA said. "We have witnessed CBP haphazardly and inconsistently detain, seize or exclude goods based on different time periods and requiring varied types of information to support claims of no forced labor," the group said. Once "DHS and CBP proceeds to enforce the UFLPA, not only must they provide clear, written, detailed regulations and guidelines, but also do the same to finally set forth the fundamental process and procedure for section 307 in general," it said. "Failing to provide such guidance for the latter (section 307) will have dire consequences in enforcing the former (UFLPA), akin to putting a fish in a tank without any water."