January 31, 2020 / 12:21 AM / 20 days ago

U.S. collected nearly 73% more duties in fiscal 2019 as trade wars raged

FILE PHOTO: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch is seen on the arm of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Mission, Texas, U.S., July 1, 2019. REUTERS/Loren Elliott/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Customs and Border Protection boosted its collection of duties by 73% to nearly $72 billion in fiscal year 2019, largely due to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel, aluminum and imports from China, the agency said on Thursday.

CBP, the second largest source of revenue in the federal government, processed $2.7 trillion in imports during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, the agency said in its annual report.

The report covers a period that saw Trump raise to $370 billion the amount of Chinese goods facing tariffs.

The agency also processed 410 million travelers in fiscal 2019, including more than 135.7 million travelers at airports - a 3.8% increase from the previous year, it said.

Passenger volumes increased by an average 5% each year the past six years at the nation’s top 25 international airports, but new technologies and innovative vetting programs had helped reduce wait times by an aggregate 17.8% over the same period.

CBP said new technologies - such non-intrusive inspection (NII) - had made it much faster to inspect exports, saving the government some $1 billion each year, compared to more time-consuming physical inspections, CBP officials told reporters.

In addition to collecting duties on goods, CBP also began enforcing 33 new anti-dumping/countervailing duty orders while recovering more than $121 million in duties owed, a nearly 86% annual increase, CBP said.

The agency, which is also responsible for identifying and containing biological threats to U.S. agriculture and consumers, said it intercepted more than 56,000 harmful pests and more than 1.75 million prohibited plant materials, meats and animal byproducts last year.

CBP said it also stepped up its efforts to crack down on goods produced or mined using forced labor, targeting shipments of certain seafood, garments, rubber globes, gold mined in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, rough-cut diamonds from Zimbabwe and bone black manufactured in Brazil.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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