Industry News

Groups Advocate Blocking "De Minimis" Entries to stop Black-Market Entry of Deadly Drugs

Dec. 11, 2023
By: Ashley J. Bodden

We previously made note that Congress has had its sights on de minimis entries, but now a coalition of associations is joining the fight. Last month, the Coalition for a Prosperous America, along with several other associations, penned Present Joseph Biden a letter on the growing and deadly drug problem caused by the rise of e-commerce and mass distribution shippers that ship counterfeit products and illicit drugs using the de minimis provision.

Section 321 of the Tariff Act of 1930 allows for the informal entry of articles that have a retail value of $800 or less and are imported by one person in one day. These articles do not generally have extensive inspections or documentation and are free of duty if the contents are valued beneath the de minimis threshold. The coalition of associations has dubbed this as a critical threat because U.S. law enforcement resources are already being exhausted and therefore advocating an end to this practice.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) Acting Commissioner Troy Miller was quoted earlier this year stating that e-commerce has caused the volume of de minimis shipments to “skyrocket,” with CBP tracking nearly 1 billion de minimis shipments crossing U.S. borders and screening the shipments and ferreting out contraband has become incredibly challenging.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) reported that de minimis imports have increased 88 percent from 2018 to 2021, and China is the leading source of those imports by a large margin. The coalition and associations argue that this volume has stretched enforcement resources beyond their capacity to credibly address the deadly drug crisis. The coalition of associations believe that closing the “loophole” or blocking the continued use of the provision would put an end to a black-market entry point for illegal drugs entering the U.S. and harming American families.

While the coalition is focused only on the illegal importation of narcotics, the reality is that many legitimate importers use de minimis entries as part of their overall business strategy. Any action to address imports of illicit articles will likely also need to balance the needs of these legitimate businesses.

If you have questions about de minimis entries or the impact a complete blockage would cause on your business do not hesitate to contact an attorney at Barnes Richardson, & Colburn LLP.