Legislative Update: Tariffs, Customs Forms, Cuba Embargo, Seafood Trade
The Global Trade Accountability Act (S. 1284, introduced May 2 by Sen. Lee, R-Utah) would require both chambers of Congress to affirmatively approve any unilateral trade actions by the president – increases in tariffs or duties, tightening tariff-rate quotas or quantitative restrictions, and other restrictions or prohibitions on imports – before they could take effect. This review process would apply to actions invoked under specified trade law provisions, including Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (relating to national security) and Title III of the Trade Act of 1974 (which includes Section 301 actions), but would not cover the General System of Preferences or miscellaneous trade bills.
S. 1302 and H.R. 2521 would amend the Tariff Act of 1930 to protect personally identifiable information. A press release from the bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced the legislation May 3 said U.S. Customs and Border Protection currently requires manifest sheets, which include PII, to disclose and document the cargo of incoming vessels for customs and security purposes. While the original intent of this requirement was to increase competition, facilitate better public analysis of import trends, and allow port authorities and transportation companies to more easily identify potential customers and changes in their industries, the press release states, in recent years the PII of relocating individuals has been released, enabling identity theft, credit card fraud, and unwanted solicitations.
The U.S.-Cuba Relations Normalization Act (H.R. 2404, introduced April 30 by Rep. Rush, D-Ill.) would lift the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and remove restrictions on commerce with and travel to that country.
The Maritime Security and Fisheries Enforcement Act (S. 1269, introduced May 1 by Sens. Wicker, R-Miss., and Coons, D-Del.) would address the threat to national security from illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and associated illegal activity and seek to prevent the illegal trade of seafood and seafood products. A joint press release states that this bill would establish an interagency working group to provide federal agencies with a coordinated framework to effectively combat IUU fishing and would authorize a range of agency activities, including building capacity for law enforcement and port security, improving transparency and traceability in the seafood supply chain, promoting the use of technology to combat IUU fishing, and encouraging better information sharing among agencies and other organizations.
For more information on pursuing trade policy interests through the legislative process, please contact trade consultant Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.