By and  on February 5, 2002

WASHINGTON -- The fight against terrorism gets a hefty chunk of President Bush's $2.3 trillion budget proposal, but he's managed to squeeze out a few hundred million for customs and trade-related issues.

The rest of the federal government, however, is on a diet, according to Bush's 2003 budget proposal sent Monday to Capitol Hill that would see exporters paying for overseas promotions and less money for anti-sweatshop enforcement.

Importers of apparel and textiles should be happy the White House wants to spend $313 million toward the years-long construction and $1.5 billion cost of a new Customs cargo-processing computer that's sorely needed, up from $307 million being spent this year. The current computer is prone to blackouts, which have caused cargo backups at the ports.

Securing funding for the Automated Commercial Environment, as the computer is called, has been iffy. Last year was the first time ACE received meaningful financing from Congress. This year, ACE got a boost from the war on terrorism since Customs stores in its data bank names of people entering the country. Moreover, the Bush administration has dropped the Clinton presidency's push to levy a user fee on importers and exporters to pay for ACE.

"This means the government is finally committed to building ACE and [is] committed to doing it on a timely basis," said Jonathan Gold, director of international trade policy for the International Mass Retail Association.

The administration also wants Customs to receive $3.2 million next year for an importer-agency cargo security program created after Sept. 11. The Customs Trade Partnerships Against Terrorism, which covers importers of textiles and apparel, is designed to keep terrorist weapons from being stowed in cargo. The program sets out security protocols for importers and ocean carriers to secure cargo from the factory to delivery. After Sept. 11, Congress allocated $8.3 million to start the program, with 21 Customs employees.

The President's budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 calls for government spending to rise 3.7 percent over 2002, but military spending would go up about 14 percent to $48 billion, the largest increase since the Reagan administration's defense buildup 20 years ago. Homeland security would get $37.7 billion, up from this year's $20 billion.

To Read the Full Article

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus