Congressman Charles W. Boustany, Jr., M.D. (R-South Louisiana), released the following statement after introducing H.R. 5708, the Preventing Recurring Trade Evasion and Circumvention Act, or "PROTECT Act," with Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans). This legislation seeks to increase communication between agencies within the federal government and give them new tools to combat the evasion of import duties:
"Importers of international goods must follow the law and pay the applicable duties. Not doing so creates an unlevel playing field putting American goods and workers at a distinct competitive disadvantage. The shrimping industry, agricultural producers, and other Gulf Coast industries, especially in South Louisiana, have been victimized by the trade evasion problem this Act seeks to remedy. This bipartisan legislation increases cooperation between government agencies to efficiently combat import duty evasion while keeping responsiveness to American companies the highest priority," said Boustany.
"We have a duty to protect our American businesses and workers against unfair trade practices that distort the market and promote anti-competitive behavior,"said Congressman Richmond. "Our shrimpers have demonstrated their resilience after Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. This legislation shows that the nation cares about shrimper's livelihoods and is committed to the continued success of their business."
House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) stated, "This bipartisan bill will address a significant problem that Congressmen Boustany and Richmond see firsthand in Louisiana and we see in ports around the nation. Schemes to evade paying U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties significantly undermine the effectiveness of our trade remedy laws and hurt U.S. businesses and workers. This bill will give U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other agencies the tools to investigate and prevent evasion of these laws. In addition, it will ensure that the Administration gives its full attention to combating evasion and coordinates with the American businesses that are harmed. I look forward to considering this legislation in the Ways & Means Committee."
House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) added, "This bill would give U.S. Customs and Border Protection the modern tools it needs to stop cheaters who violate our laws by avoiding paying what they owe. It would increase our ability to address -- at the border -- imports that violate our trade laws, rather than just chasing them after they have entered the American market. The bill would also require Customs to be more responsive to U.S. industries that are harmed by imports that evade our laws while reinforcing Customs' ability to combat such evasion. I support this bipartisan bill and congratulate Congressman Boustany and Congressman Richmond for their efforts."
"Few things, if any, have done more damage to our shrimpers than the failure of importers to pay duties. This hurts every shrimper in Louisiana every time they land their catch. We are deeply grateful to Rep. Boustany and Rep. Richmond for taking such definitive action to combat this problem on behalf of the shrimp industry in Louisiana and throughout the region."said John Williams, Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance.