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FACT SHEET: Customs Bill Strengthens Enforcement for Groundbreaking Intellectual Property, Environment and Labor Standards in TPP

February 11, 2016

The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act provides new tools and resources to protect American innovation and level the playing field for American workers

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today commended Congress for passing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which will bolster trade enforcement efforts.

“This bill adds new tools that we’ll use in the work we do every day to hold America’s trading partners accountable,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Coming on the heels of negotiating TPP, the highest-standard trade agreement in history, this bill will further boost enforcement of the groundbreaking intellectual property, labor, environment, and many other fully enforceable commitments we’ve secured. The bipartisan leaders in Congress who have repeatedly fought for this bill deserve to be commended for their unrelenting commitment to supporting high-standard trade.  We have made tremendous progress in trade policy over the last year, including the passage of Trade Promotion Authority, the renewal of AGOA and GSP, and the completion of the TPP negotiations.  In the next year, we look forward to working with Congress as we seek to pass TPP into law and advance the rest of our trade and enforcement agenda.”


The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 includes new tools and resources to help ensure that our trading partners live up to their commitments. This bipartisan bill:

  • Establishes the Interagency Center on Trade Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement at USTR which brings together expertise from across government to aid in monitoring and enforcing U.S. trade agreements. This codifies into law a 2012 Executive Order that first created the interagency approach to boosting enforcement efforts.
  • Creates a Trade Enforcement Trust Fund to provide new resources – authorized at $15 million per year – for trade enforcement efforts.
  • Improves our ability to target trading partners who attempt to evade U.S. antidumping or countervailing duty orders.
  • Bolsters enforcement tools to protect intellectual property rights, including by authorizing the seizure of circumvention devices, and by facilitating the seizure of suspect merchandise through improved coordination with intellectual property right holders.
  • Strengthens the prohibition on importing goods made by forced labor.
  • Mandates a strategic multi-year plan for trade enforcement produced by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Establishes Centers of Excellence and Expertise for trade enforcement throughout U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bolster trade enforcement at ports of entry.
  • Strengthens our ability to enforce intellectual property rights by creating a National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and setting staffing and training requirements that enhance the federal government’s enforcement of IP rights at our borders.
  • Ensures that customs and border patrol personnel are trained in the detection, identification, seizure, and forfeiture of cultural property, archaeological or ethnological materials, and fish, wildlife and plants that are taken illegally.
  • Requires a report on the effectiveness of trade enforcement activities including looking at fraud prevention and transshipments.
  • Improves international cooperation among law enforcement and customs officials to strengthen intellectual property rights enforcement.
  • Gives the United States new, unprecedented measures to address unfair currency practices. The conference report creates a new, binding mechanism to confront countries that engage in unfair currency practices and requires the Administration to impose penalties on countries that fail to work with us.


Passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 comes shortly after the United States completed negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which goes further than any trade agreement in history to hold trading partners accountable to tough, enforceable trade standards. Among the enforceable commitments in TPP that will help American workers and businesses compete and win are:

For more information on the high-standards included in TPP visit:



The Obama Administration has undertaken the most ambitious upgrade of trade enforcement in the history of modern U.S. trade policy, building a far more capable enforcement system.   The result has been a record of quality enforcement victories that are helping to level the playing field for American workers, businesses and farmers.

  • Since President Obama was inaugurated in 2009, the United States has filed 20 enforcement complaints at the World Trade Organization (WTO) –more than any other WTO Member. The United States has won every single one of those disputes that has been decided by the WTO so far.
  • The Obama Administration has brought 11 trade enforcement challenges against China, three against India, and several other complaints against a series of major economies including Indonesia, Argentina, the Philippines, and the European Union.  To ensure the greatest economic benefits for American workers and exporters, the Obama Administration has used our trade enforcement actions to emphasize opening these large, strategic markets to which the United States exports a diverse array of products and services.
  • The Obama Administration has also broken new ground on the enforcement of labor rights, including the first-ever case under a trade agreement to seek the enforcement of worker rights.  That case challenges Guatemala’s failure to enforce its labor laws.
  • Beyond formal disputes, the Obama Administration has also opened markets for American workers, farmers and businesses by taking tough stands to resolve unwarranted trade barriers with trading partners. For example, in the last two years alone, we have negotiated agreements that expand beef exports to Mexico and pork exports to Malaysia. We also successfully engaged with the Philippines – including through the Special 301 process – to enhance protection of intellectual property rights. These and similar actions have helped expand exports and level the playing field for American goods and services.

For more information on the enforcement record the Obama Administration has compiled visit: