Owens Proposes Plan to Increase Trade Across Northern Border

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Bill Owens introduced H.R.5375, the Customs De Minimis Adjustment Act of 2010. The legislation increases from $200 to $1000 the value of goods that can be brought into the United States duty free and without customs entry procedures. The hike would encourage economic development in Northern New York and foster an environment of greater trade for community small business owners. The current $200 limit was established in 1993, and has not been adjusted for inflation in 17 years.

“For our community to continue down the path to economic recovery, it is critical that we take advantage of the economic benefit that comes from a robust trade relationship with our neighbors to the north,” Owens said. “We must make it more attractive to our local economic leaders to take part in this relationship. This legislation takes a step in that direction while allowing our customs officers to focus on matters of homeland security, and to expedite the movement of commercial goods.”

The Customs De Minimis Adjustment Act of 2010 has received endorsements and support from a growing list of national organizations, including the US Chamber of Commerce, American Association of Exporters and Importers, Cargo Airline Association, United States Council for International Business, and the American Trucking Association.

Local groups have also praised the legislation, including Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce, Operation Oswego County, Malone Chamber of Commerce, Capital Corridor, Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, and the Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce.

Congressman Owens hopes that the Canadian Government will enact corresponding legislation to enhance tourism and shopping in Upstate New York communities across the Canadian border.


Capital Corridor and the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority

“The Capital Corridor and the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority unequivocally support Congressman Owens’ proposed legislation. This will not only be a benefit to small business and the tourism industry but will also allow CBP to focus on issues more important to national security and the free flow of goods and services across our borders.” W. Howard Kelly, Director, the Capital Corridor

Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce

“The Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce supports Congressman Owens’ efforts to increase from $200 to $1000 the value of goods that can be brought into the United States duty free and without customs procedures. We realize the need to place more emphasis on security at border crossings like the 1000 Islands Bridge, and we are hopeful that the Canadian government might follow our lead by increasing the amount of goods that can be brought back into their country duty free by their residents wishing to shop in Watertown, Northern New York and the United States.” David Mance, President & CEO (Interim), Greater Watertown North Country Chamber of Commerce

Malone Chamber of Commerce

“The Greater Malone Area Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the De Minimis Adjustment Act because it supports the principle of commerce in a practical and important way for ordinary travelers who are a vital component of the economy in all border communities. Since the beginning of our nation’s history, this cross border trade has sustained communities on both sides of the border and this bill helps assure that this commerce continues.” Hugh Hill, President Malone Chamber of Commerce

Operation Oswego County

“Operation Oswego County, Inc., as an economic development organization, strongly supports this legislation and firmly believes that it will not only make border crossings easier for business and for personal travel, it will help to enhance business and tourism activities which will help to improve and stimulate the economies on both sides of the border.” L. Michael Treadwell, CEcD, Executive Director

Ticonderoga Chamber of Commerce

“We here at the Chamber realize the importance of small businesses and totally support any assistance that can be made available to them.” Barbara Brassard, Executive Director


Airforwarders Association

“The Airforwarders Association endorses an increase in the De Minimis level from $200 to $1000 for several reasons. First, the measure will assist in expediting the clearing and processing of low value shipments arriving in the United States thereby increasing our competitiveness as a global trading partner. Since less personnel will be required to clear lower value shipments, those resources will be available to allow CBP to focus more of its efforts on risk based security targets,” said Brandon Fried, Executive Director, of the Airforwarders Association.

Air Transport Association

“ATA supports Congressman Owens’ proposed legislation to increase the long-outdated de minimis value. Revising that amount will allow CBP to deploy its resources more efficiently by focusing attention on enforcing trade compliance of higher value imports,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May.

American Trucking Association

“The American Trucking Associations strongly supports the Customs De Minimis Adjustment Act, introduced by Representative Bill Owens. An increase in the de minimis is timely and necessary when considering the rise in the price of impacted goods year after year due to inflation. The ATA, together with other trade groups and impacted companies, has sought this necessary change for many years. An increased de minimus allows impacted motor carriers to discontinue manifesting low value shipments, which will improve transit times and eliminate unnecessary and costly repetitive paperwork entries for both industry and CBP. Again, ATA fully supports Congressman Owens bill to increase the de mimimus amount in CBP regulations, exempting impacted parties from full manifesting requirements when transporting low value cargo shipments,” said Jackie Kelly, Jr., Director of Legislative Affairs, of the American Trucking Association.

Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance

“The Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance supports the increase in values for de minimis entries that would particularly facilitate trade for small and medium size companies and applauds Congressman Owens initiative.” James D. Phillips, President & CEO

Cargo Airline Association

“The Cargo Airline Association, the nation’s voice for the all-cargo air carrier industry, strongly supports Rep. William Owens’ bill to increase the de minimis exemption. This legislation would also facilitate trade for small and medium-sized importers, while at the same time decreasing the Customs and Border Protection workload. Our members, including Federal Express, UPS, DHL, Atlas Air and ABX Air, operate worldwide systems of transportation to support the global economy and the proposed legislation will significantly increase the ability to provide the expedited service required by shippers in today’s marketplace.” Steve Alterman, President


“DHL is grateful for the leadership Congressman Owens is showing on this issue. Increasing the de minimis level will free crucial resources at CBP to better target high risk shipments, while at the same time benefitting the small business community and our economic recovery,” said Wolfgang Pordzik, Executive Vice President for Corporate Public Policy, DHL.

Express Association of America (EAA)

“Raising the de minimis level will simplify the entry process for low value shipments and will reduce shipping costs, particularly for small businesses and individuals bringing products for personal use into the United States. With the increasing use of internet shopping, a higher de minimis level will facilitate the development of small online retailers and allow more people to benefit from the efficiencies of modern commerce,” said Michael Mullen, Executive Director of EAA, which represents DP DHL, FedEx, TNT and UPS.

Express Delivery and Logistics Association

“The Express Delivery and Logistics Association is pleased to give its full support to the De Minimis Adjustment Act as introduced by Representative Bill Owens. This bill would provide the necessary adjustment to our country’s tariff law that would accurately reflect inflationary values and while promoting efficiency and expediency in processing goods entering the United States”. Jim Conway, Executive Director.

International Air Cargo Association (TIACA)

“TIACA commends Congressman Owens for introducing this legislation and strongly supports this effort to increase the U.S. de minimis level. The increase, which is long overdue, would simplify and reduce the costs of customs entry for many parties, particularly small and medium sized ones who tend to have smaller value shipments. We believe this is an important facilitation measure that will help American business, the air cargo supply chain, and also CBP, as it will allow Customs to focus on higher risk shipments,” said Daniel Fernandez, Secretary General of The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA).

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)

“The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) applauded the introduction of legislation today that would increase the value of goods brought into the United States duty free, to $1000. Kelly Kolb, vice president of global supply chain policy offered the following statement: The Customs De Minimis Adjustment Act of 2010, introduced by. Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY) would increase the value of goods that can be brought into the United States duty free, from $200 to $1000 and without customs entry procedures. Under the current law, the de minimis amount has been set at $200 for well over a decade. “With the increases in demand over the last 17 years and higher inflation, raising the limit on duty free goods entering the U.S. makes perfect sense. “We commend Congressman Owens for introducing legislation that will help make it more cost-effective and efficient for businesses to bring goods into the United States, thereby creating more opportunities for trade, boosting economic growth and lowering prices for consumers.”