The Biden administration’s efforts to make U.S. trade policy more worker-friendly have in practice meant an intensified focus on ensuring that existing trade laws and regulations are being adequately enforced. Importers are thus having to pay even closer attention to their compliance status at a time when they are already juggling costly tariff increases, unprecedented supply chain challenges, and a volatile global economy.

For decades, importers have been responsible for exercising reasonable care in their trade operations. This includes properly classifying goods under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, determining an accurate dutiable value, and documenting eligibility for free trade agreements and other trade preferences. Establishing and marking a product’s country of origin, evaluating whether it is subject to antidumping or countervailing duties, and ensuring that its supply chain is free of forced labor are also important measures. Further, importers are tasked with keeping and maintaining good records of all these activities.

For many importers, these traditional trade compliance issues may have taken somewhat of a backseat in recent years amid the constant operational adjustments required to respond to the unpredictable announcement and implementation of new tariffs and trade restrictions. However, a number of the measures U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses to gauge its trade enforcement efforts, including penalties, seizures, and cargo detentions, have accelerated in recent months, highlighting the continuing need for importers to develop, implement, and monitor effective compliance programs.

A focus on compliance doesn’t just help companies avoid problems; there are a number of valuable benefits as well. It can result in faster import clearance and fewer delays, yield higher duty savings and more predictable costs, mitigate potential penalties, and act as a defense to retroactive duty assessments on liquidated entries.

CBP has said consulting with a customs expert is part of its checklist for compliance with the reasonable care standard, and Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg professionals are qualified customs experts skilled at helping importers identify and address compliance issues before they become problems. ST&R also offers an in-depth import compliance review that will test your company’s import-related internal controls and procedures against CBP standards and deliver a confidential report that will guide your compliance team toward industry best practices and concrete cost-savings measures.

For more information on ST&R’s import compliance reviews and how they can benefit your company, please contact or your ST&R professional.

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