Customs brokers feel pinch of government shutdown

Various duty refund programs remain on hold as numerous CBP employees are on furlough during the federal government shutdown.

Imports continue to enter the United States through the facilitative and compliant hands of thousands of customs brokers, but various duty refund programs remain on hold as numerous Customs and Border Protection staff are on furlough during the federal government shutdown.  

“CBP is not sending out any refunds, including drawback refunds, and that hurts, especially if the broker or the importer was expecting a refund,” said Amy Magnus, president of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA).

Drawback is a refund of customs duties paid on imported materials that are either exported or used in the manufacture of exported articles. With appropriate documentation, an exporter can receive up to 99 percent of duties paid.

“The liquidation process remains, but even if (drawback) refunds are generated at liquidation, they will not be paid until the shutdown ends,” said Dave Corn, vice president of one of the nation’s oldest drawback specialists, Comstock & Theakston Inc., and co-chairman of the Association of American Exporters and Importers’ Drawback and Duty Deferral Committee. “The impacts from the lack of payment are obvious; having payments restored is the No. 1 priority.”

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