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January 29, 2004 

GAO Issues Report on Illegal Textile Transshipments to the U.S.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) has recently issued a report addressing the enforcement of laws preventing illegal textile transshipments to the United States. The GAO report examined the efforts of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in enforcing textile transshipment regulations. In the report, GAO noted that Customs will lose important authority to conduct inspections of foreign textile factories at the end of 2004, when quotas expire, even though transshipment will remain a threat because of preferential tariff rates for U.S. textile imports from some countries.

The report noted that in order to identify potential illegal textile transshipments to the United States, CBP targets countries, manufacturers, shipments, and importers that it determines to be at a higher risk for textile transshipment. CBP uses a targeting process that relies heavily on analyzing available trade data and other information to focus limited review and enforcement resources on the most suspect activity. In 2002, CBP targeted and selected for review about 2,500 textile and apparel shipments out of more than 3 million shipments it processed that year. CBP also targets importers based on high-risk activity, and conducts internal control audits that include verifying whether the importers have controls against transshipment. However, resource constraints limit the number of foreign factories and shipments that CBP can target and review annually to a small share of textile and apparel trade.


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