In an opinion piece recently published in American Shipper, “More to brokerage than pushing a button,” the president of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Jeffrey Coppersmith, attempts to boost the perceived value of customs brokers. He cites the complexities in clearing CBP and other government agencies that have jurisdiction over imports.
There is no doubt that navigating this regulatory maze can be very complex. From the standpoint of a customs brokerage, it has customers that import everything from drugs to medical devices. Food to firearms. Alcohol to cars. Household effects. And everything in between. That’s clearly many different regulatory programs of which to keep track.
Importers, however, have a more narrow focus. They are very knowledgeable of their imported products and the requirements to import. The Mod Act of 1993, which placed more responsibility on importers to know importing regulations and requirements, forced most importers to invest in their customs teams. Compliance manager positions have abounded.
In a short amount of time since the Mod Act, importers were classifying their own import product, determining the correct country of origin for CBP purposes, ensuring their products met the requirements for Free Trade Agreements, and so on. Most also audited some/all of their broker’s entries (and many required correcting.) And they didn’t stop there. Many continued to research and document new processes on how to effectively clear imports through agencies like the FDA, DOT, etc.
Nowadays, most importers have mastered the knowledge relating to the import regulatory schemes to which their products are subject. They train their teams and know the “hot spots” in their import program. It is not out of the question for them to take complete control over their import program by becoming direct filers of their entries and ISFs.