The APEC summit in San Francisco includes 21 nations and will cover topics such as trade relations and currency issues. But it will also cover an unexpected topic: fentanyl. Fentanyl, a highly addictive narcotic, has become an unexpected window into global supply chains and how they work, particularly in small international package shipments that bypass customs and trade restrictions. These loopholes intended for legitimate trade have become routes for drugs, counterfeit goods, and forced labor-made apparel. As concerns about these shipments have risen, US manufacturers and regulators have been pushing for new laws and tariffs to penalize Chinese companies doing business in America. However, US-based multinationals, particularly in finance and technology, are benefitting financially from these shipments and are resisting efforts to tighten regulations. The US Customs and Border Protection agency has also been unable to effectively inspect and seize these shipments. In response, a bipartisan group of senators has urged President Biden to increase enforcement and end de minimis exceptions for ecommerce shipments of textiles and apparel. Closing these loopholes, despite the ecommerce ramifications, seems necessary to limit the distribution of fentanyl, forced labor-made apparel, and counterfeit goods.
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