October 15,2010

Press Contact:

Scott Mulhauser/Erin Shields

Baucus Tours China's Largest Port to Discuss Trade Facilitation, Enforcement of Trade Laws, Secutiry of Ports and Imports

Trip looks at challenges facing America’s customs agencies ahead of reauthorization

Washington, DCSenate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) today visited China’s Waigaoqiao port, the country’s busiest port, to discuss issues related to trade facilitation and trade enforcement with China.  Baucus’ tour centered on the challenges facing America’s customs agencies, including ensuring the smooth flow of goods as trade between the United States and China increases, while ensuring the safety and security of those goods received from China.  Baucus introduced legislation with Finance Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to reauthorize U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure they are meeting their missions of trade facilitation and trade enforcement, are able to process U.S. exports and imports in a timely manner and to enforce trade laws that protect and create a level-playing field for U.S. companies.

“The Waigaoqiao port is the busiest port in China, so it is one of the best places to see and understand the challenges faced by our customs agencies,” Baucus said.  “Trade between the United States and China continues to increase, and we need to ensure we can meet the challenges of both security and trade enforcement that are presented as the result of that growth.  We need to work hard to ensure trade laws are enforced and to work just as hard to ensure international commerce is moving quickly enough to accommodate the growth of American companies and American jobs.  I’m working together with Senator Grassley to give our customs agencies the resources they need to successfully carry out their missions and improve the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the global marketplace. ”

The Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act Baucus and Grassley introduced last year would revamp the trade facilitation and trade enforcement functions carried out by CBP and ICE, which are within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The legislation would ensure those agencies are able to carry out their trade functions by establishing new high-level positions within DHS, CBP, and ICE that focus on trade facilitation and enforcement; providing CBP and ICE with additional resources to carry out their trade missions; and establishing sophisticated commercial enforcement practices to ensure U.S. imports comply with U.S. laws.

In addition to providing first-hand understanding of the challenges faced by CBP, Baucus’ tour of the port also provided the opportunity to better understand how U.S. customs is working with other trading partners and to learn about what China is doing to improve enforcement of trade laws, particularly protecting American intellectual property (IP) and ensuring the safety of Chinese exports.  CBP and ICE work with China’s customs agencies to prevent goods that violate U.S. laws from entering the United States, but American businesses still lose billions of dollars every year as the result of IP infringement.  In 2007, the customs agencies of the United States and China signed an agreement to strengthen IP enforcement by improving customs cooperation between the two countries.  During his tour of the Waigaoqiao port, Baucus examined the efforts undertaken by Chinese customs officials to improve IP enforcement at the border, including through increased trade targeting and cargo examinations. 

Baucus also looked at Chinese efforts to examine Chinese food and consumer product exports in light of recent health and safety concerns.  In recent years, the safety of Chinese food and consumer products has been under heightened scrutiny.  Incidents of tainted food and milk from China, as well as high levels of lead found in children’s toys, led the United States to tighten its import standards with regard to these products.  During his trip, Baucus spoke with Chinese officials about their improved coordination with the U.S. Government to enforce U.S. import health and safety laws as well as their increased inspections of food and consumer products intended for export to the United States. 

The Senate Finance Committee has jurisdiction over U.S. international trade policy and congressional oversight over the trade functions of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 

# # #