A new bill proposed in the United States Senate last week will dramatically increase trade data transparency in the United States.
Last Thursday, Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Republican senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana proposed the Manifest Modernization Act. The bipartisan bill aims to prevent the import of unsafe, illegal, and counterfeit goods into the United States by demanding greater data transparency of commercial aircraft, truck, and rail manifests entering and leaving the United States.
Current US law only requires public disclosure of maritime cargo manifests entering or leaving US soil. The data is collected by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and made publicly available, where the data is then processed and cleaned by companies like ImportGenius.
However, under existing regulations, CBP is not required to disclose shipping manifests for other modes of imports and exports, such as air, rail, and truck – which has led to serious concerns about a lack of transparency into a host of supply chain risks, including trade-based money laundering, sanctions evaders, and other criminal actors using air or land to bring goods into and out of the United States.
Trade data transparency has already been a massive force for good. ImportGenius has used trade data to expose everything from companies violating US sanctions on Russia, to tracking shipments of tainted cough syrup poisoning children. The Manifest Modernization Act will increase stakeholders' ability to improve the supply chain's safety and accountability.
Under the new Manifest Modernization Act, the same transparency requirements covering maritime shipments will be extended to commercial shipments entering or leaving the US by air and land. The bill has received enthusiastic endorsement from businesses involved in enabling trade transparency—such as ImportGenius and S&P, and many nonprofit organizations including the Human Trafficking Legal Center, Corporate Accountability Lab, Greenpeace USA, and Anti-Slavery International.
“Drug traffickers, kleptocrats, and human rights abusers rely on transparency gaps in trade data to move illicit products and hide their ill-gotten gains. Shining a light on opaque air and vehicle imports will help law enforcement take down bad actors and keep American consumers and companies safe from unsafe or counterfeit goods,” said Senator Whitehouse in a recent public statement.
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