September 25, 2016

Did You Know the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act Raises Duty Free Limit?


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A newly passed piece of trade legislation may make it easier for small businesses to compete by simplifying the import process.

The U.S. Senate has passed the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act of 2015 (PDF), which will modernize and expedite the customs clearance process — fulfilling a long-standing wish of American businesses.

Among other things, the bill increases the de minimis level from $200 to $800, which will help you purchase items up to $800 from anywhere in the world duty-free.

The White House press office issued a statement hailing the legislation as a milestone.

Why the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act is Good News for Your Business

The Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act is significant because it features some important provisions that will aid small businesses. The biggest is the increase in the duty free limit.

Before the bill, people returning from international trips could bring back up to $800 of merchandise duty free. However, on shipping individual items, only the first $200 was duty free, meaning the necessity to more for products ordered over the Internet for example.

The act therefore cuts costs for American online shoppers and makes cross-border ecommerce faster and cheaper.

But what’s also worth noting is that the act simplifies the import process, which will help small businesses source materials more easily in the near future.

Take the ACE (Automated Cargo Environment) program, for example. The bill advances this program to move the U.S. towards a fully automated clearance system, and supports the new Single Window clearance system, which will make documentation easier for importers.

GlobeTrade founder and import/export expert, Laurel Delaney says the bill “will protect small businesses operating in the global economy better by evaluating the small business impact of trade issues such as free trade agreements, providing additional compliance powers to our U.S. Trade Representative, and by addressing currency manipulation.”

UPS and FedEx Applaud the Act

Not surprisingly, the Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act is also receiving praise from big shippers like FedEx and UPS.

In an article posted on the official Fedex.com blog, FedEx Express Managing Director Ralph Carter says “U.S. companies need rapid and reliable access to parts sourced around the world – and these new rules streamline that process.”

UPS has also welcomed the legislation with the company’s Global Public Affairs President Laura Lane commenting that the act “will broadly bolster the nation’s customs enforcement efforts.”

Capitol Building Photo via Shutterstock

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Shubhomita Bose


Shubhomita Bose Shubhomita Bose is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers key studies and surveys about the small business market, along with general small business news. She draws on 8 years of experience in copywriting, marketing and communications, having worked extensively on creating content for small and medium sized enterprises.

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