The U.S. Customs Service's Efforts To Enforce Import Laws and Regulations

Gao ID: T-NSIAD-87-5 February 25, 1987

Testimony was given on the Customs Service's ability to enforce laws and regulations governing imports, specifically: (1) the adequacy of Customs' cargo examination process; (2) Customs' ability to protect intellectual property rights; and (3) the role of import specialists in entry processing. GAO found that: (1) physical examinations of imported goods are the primary means for ensuring compliance with U.S. trade laws; (2) the manner in which Customs performs the examinations does not provide reliable information; (3) inspectors need policies and procedures that establish criteria for determining the intensity of examinations; (4) imported goods that counterfeit or infringe upon intellectual property rights continue to enter the country; and (5) survey responses point to staff limitations as a primary cause of Customs' inability to protect intellectual property rights. GAO also found that: (1) most of the documentation that import specialists review and submit is error free; and (2) errors affecting duties and taxes result in additional assessments that are slightly more than the amount refunded to the importer.

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