Government Report: Billions in Import Duties Have Gone Unpaid

By Matthew McMullan
Aug 18 2016 |
Unpaid AD and CV duties, ahoy! | Photo by Daniel Ramirez

$2.3 billion between 2001 and 2014, to be precise.

“When I am president,” said one of the two major-party presidential candidates, “we will strongly enforce trade rules against unfair foreign subsidies, and impose countervailing duties to prevent egregious instances of outsourcing.”  

“When countries break the rules, we won’t hesitate to impose targeted tariffs,” said the other major candidate. “I’m going to ramp up enforcement by appointing a new chief trade prosecutor, tripling the number of enforcement officers.”

The sound pretty similar to one another, right? Well, someone should alert both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to this report released this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

It found: As of May 2015, and based on an analysis of the fiscal years 2001 to 2014, a full $2.3 billion in antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CV) duties owed to the U.S. government went unpaid.

In its report GAO lays out recommended fixes for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which is responsible for collecting AD and CV duties. You can find it here.

But if, in this world of federal budgets and trade flows, $2.3 billion sound a little measly, consider this: Last year, the Labor Department announced $175 million in grants to fund apprenticeships, estimating that it will help place “more than 34,000 new apprentices in high-growth and high-tech industries including health care, IT and advanced manufacturing.”

Sounds like a $2.3 billion problem that should be fixed!