The American Association of Exporters and Importers is complaining that layers of bureaucracy in Customs and Border Protection’s Office of International Trade are causing importers unnecessary delays in getting rulings and settlement offers from the Office of Regulations and Rulings.
OR&R, which had been an independent Customs division, was absorbed into OIT after Congress authorized its creation in the SAFE Port Act of 2006. In a letter on Friday to Acting Commissioner Jayson Ahern, AAEI charged that the organizational change has led to delays, because OR&R determinations are subjected to OIT management review.
Previously importers received ruling letters directly from OR&R. The rulings are Customs’ official determinations on the classification of imported goods, which importers use as part of their compliance programs.
“We do not see how additional layers of administrative review … serve to improve trade facilitation or enforcement,” AAEI said. The organization also pointed out that the legal rulings are being reviewed by managers with no legal background.
AAEI said that the impediments to trade facilitation, compliance and enforcement go against congressional intent when it authorized the creation of OIT, and could invite scrutiny from the Government Accountability Office.
The group also noted that OR&R, which has been part of Customs for 45 years, was downgraded twice before, only to be re-elevated when Customs realized it functions best as an independent authority.
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