U.S. Congress dumps customs user fee

OTTAWA (May 27) ­- The Canadian Trucking Alliance calls it a victory for the Canadian trucking industry and trading community.

The U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee apparently has scrapped a plan by the Clinton administration to charge a fee for vehicles crossing U.S. borders. The fee was proposed as a way to pay for upgrades of the U.S. Customs Service’s antiquated and overworked computer network, the Automated Customs System (ACS).

The controversial charge, part of the administration’s proposed year 2000 budget, would have raised $163 million US from users of the U.S. Custom Services’ computerized clearance system.

The CTA alleged that the fee would constitute a tax on trade that would be illegal under both NAFTA and the GATT.

While the Subcommittee agreed to shelve the user fee, it did not address other ways to pay for modernizing the ACS, the CTA said. The budget doesn’t contain enough to maintain the system let alone develop an efficient replacement.

The result could mean more system crashes in the coming months, Bradley said. He wants Ottawa to press the White House and Congress for additional funding.

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