Customs Enforcement of Other Agencies' Regulations

AuthorJini Koh, Ruta Riley, Christine J. Sohar Henter, Christopher H. Skinner, Maureen E. Thorson
Customs Enforcement of Other
Agencies’ Regulations
Pursuant to its mandate to regulate U.S. customs ports and the flow of goods
into and out of the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP,
or Customs) is charged with enforcing import and export-related regulations of
some 40 other U.S. federal agencies. For those agencies, CBP supports critical
regulatory and policy objectives. They include, among other things, upholding
U.S. food, drug, and medical device standards; protecting U.S. consumers from
potentially dangerous and nonconforming consumer products; blocking entry
of counterfeit or g ray market goods and upholding national and international
trademark and copyright laws; protecting the environment and indigenous and
nonindigenous endangered species; enforcing antidumping and countervailing
duty measures; protecting against interference of U.S. communications channels
from nonconforming electronic devices; and preventing unauthorized imports
and exports of sensitive military and intelligence items and illicit or harmful
In 204, President Barack Obama formally established the Border Interagency
Executive Council (BIEC) to develop policies and processes to enhance coordina-
tion between government health, safety, and other trade-related issues. The BIEC
is chaired by a senior Department of Homeland Security off icial and includes
members from numerous other agencies, such as the Departments of State, Com-
merce, the Interior, Defense, and Treasury, the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition,
the president established the Interagency Trade Enforcement Center (ITEC) to
better coordinate international trade monitoring and enforcement across federal
agencies.2 The ITEC is composed of officials from government agencies includ-
ing the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, Homeland Security, Justice, and
Agriculture, and is led by the U.S. Trade Representative.3 ITEC’s mission is to
address unfair trade practices from abroad and to coordinate federal efforts to
police international trade rules.4 However, ITEC does not duplicate the day-to-
day efforts of CBP with respect to trade enforcement, or those of the Depart-
ment of Commerce regarding antidumping/countervailing duties.5 Rather, much
of ITEC’s work since its inception has focused on consulting with individual trad-
ing partners to ensure their compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO)
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246 CHAPTER 12
rules. The establishment of the BIEC and ITEC demonstrates increased coordi-
nation and communication between agencies related to imported products and
highlights the role Customs plays in enforcing other agency regulations at the
This chapter discusses some of the most signif icant responsibilities of Cus-
toms to enforce other U.S. government agencies’ regulations. While not compre-
hensive, it endeavors to provide an overview of Customs’ role and practices in
regard to a few selected regulatory areas and offers insights to assist customs prac-
titioners in navigating issues that may arise in those areas. This chapter addresses
Customs’ enforcement roles under the regulations administered by the following
U.S. federal government agencies, commissions, departments, and bureaus:
U.S. Department of Agriculture;
U.S. Food and Drug Administration;
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission;
U.S. Federal Communications Commission;
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office;
U.S. International Trade Commission and Department of Commerce (in
regard to antidumping and countervailing duty orders);
U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and
Explosives; and
U.S. Department of the Treasury, Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade
In fact, numerous other federal agencies rely on Customs to enforce trans-
actions involving items that fall under their jurisdiction and cross U.S. borders.
While we do not address all of those agencies in this chapter, we offer at the
end a list of other federal agencies that implicate customs functions and provide
references to resources for further guidance.
USDA Import Regulatory Authority
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency in the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA), administers and enforces U.S. import and
export laws related to agricultural products, ensuring free and fair agricultural
trade pursuant to the Animal Health and Protection Act. For imports, APHIS’
regulatory regime protects the U.S. agricultural industries from pests and diseases
through entry requirements for imports of ag ricultural products, monitoring the
health of impor ts at the U.S. border, and regulation of imported (and exported)
animals, animal products, and biologics. Specifically, APHIS’ authority includes
issuing permits for the import, transit, and release of regulated () animals (live or
hides) and animal products, (2) veterinary biologics, and (3) plants, plant products,
pests, organisms, soil, and genetically engineered organisms.
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Customs Enforcement of Other Agencies’ Regulations 247
PRACTITIONER’S TIP: The web-based ePermits system allows users to submit import
applications, track applications, apply for renewals and amendments, and access copies of
permits. Registered users may access the ePermits system at
The range of agricultural products that APHIS regulates is diverse and
includes the following categories:
Biological specimens include bacterial cultures, culture mediums, excretions,
fungi, arthropods, mollusks, tissues of livestock, birds, plants, viruses, or
vectors for research, biological, or pharmaceutical use. Permit require-
ments are located under “Permits” on the USDA website and Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention permit information can be found on the
Etiologic Agent Import Permit Program page.
Animals and animal products include live animals, semen, embryos, and
materials derived from animals or exposed to animal-source materials
such as animal tissues, blood, cells or cell lines of livestock or poultry
origin, RNA/DNA extracts, hormones, enzymes, and microorganisms
including bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. In addition, this includes
animal materials including dairy products (except butter and cheese) and
meat products (e.g., poultry, beef, pork, meat pies, prepared foods, and
eggs) from countries with livestock diseases exotic to the United States.
Veterinary biologics include vaccines, bacterins, antisera, diagnostic kits,
and other products of biolog ical origin.
Biotechnology includes genetically engineered organisms considered to be
regulated articles.
Plants, pests/organisms, and soil include nursery stock, small lots of seed,
fruits and vegetables, timber, cotton, cut flowers, and protected, threat-
ened, and endangered plants; arthropods and mollusks (insects and snails);
fungi, bacteria, nematodes, mycoplasma, viroids and viruses, biological
control agents, bees, Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratories, federal noxious
weeds, and parasitic plants.
Furthermore, APHIS and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
together regulate domestic and imported meat, poultry, and processed egg prod-
ucts, in accordance with the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products
Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act.
PRACTITIONER’S TIP: APHIS published an import checklist that is especially helpful for U.S.
importers of meat, poultry, and egg products. See
FSIS maintains several comprehensive lists and reports that are useful to
importers of meat, poultry, and egg products. A foreign audit report provides com-
prehensive audits of foreign country’s inspection systems to ensure compliance
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