CBP’s Bersin resigns

US Customs & Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin has resigned his post, effective December 31.

As reported in our blog post of September 28, Bersin was named to his position in a recess appointment by President Obama nearly 2 years ago, raising the ire of the Senate Finance Committee who sought to interrogate him about possible violation of immigration laws regarding hired household help.

Now that the Senate has adjourned without confirming his appointment, Bersin has resigned from the post in advance of its expiration at year end.

Overall, the trade was quite satisfied with the progress that Bersin made in helping to streamline the agency and facilitate trade with modernization efforts.

Deputy Commission David Aguilar will serve as Acting Commissioner.

Country of origin – how the Chinese honey industry flouted the rules

As recently reported on National Public Radio, members of the US honey industry have taken major steps to prevent the importation into this country of Chinese honey purportedly from other countries.

In response to anti-dumping concerns, in 2008 the United States imposed significant duties on Chinese honey.  Almost immediately, shipments of Chinese honey ceased, while imports of honey from China’s neighbors, such as Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia – with no commercial beekeeping history – increased markedly.

Scientific analysis of that honey revealed an absence of pollen present in those countries, but typical of pollen found in China, leading to charges of false labeling and fraud.

Now, with an sudden surge in honey imports from India, another Chinese neighbor, some members of the US honey industry have established True Source Honey, LLC, an organization that certifies foreign honey as authentically from the stated country of origin through audits, lab analysis and random inspection of honey producers.

Read or listen to NPR’s story, “Funny honey?  Bringing Trust to a Sector Full of Suspicion.”

e-Manifest: Rail and Sea – CBP continues the migration to ACE

As part of its concentrated effort to make ACE the single system for Customs’ EDI transactions, US Customs recently launched a pilot program to accept electronic rail and sea manifests via ACE.  Building on the success of e-Manifest: trucks, CBP intends to run the pilot through approximately the end of the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Until that time, CBP will accept rail and sea manifests in both ACE and ACS  “to allow trade partners ample time to implement the required programming changes prior to the decommissioning of ACS for rail and sea manifests.”  At the conclusion of the pilot, ACS will be phased out for this purpose, and ACE will be the only CBP-approved EDI through which rail and sea manifests may be transmitted.  Watch for Federal Register notices in the coming months for updates.

Customs’ official notice of the pilot is available here.

On a related note, now that the pilot has launched, users may now run Multi-Modal Manifest Reports in ACE.  To that end, on Thursday, December 15, US Customs will offer a free webinar for the trade on running the MMM reports.  Learn more and register here.

CBP to evaluate drawback program compliance

After an audit of US Customs’ drawback process by the Department of Homeland Security revealed that drawback is “a material weakness for CBP internal audit controls over financial reporting,” US Customs will be undertaking a Drawback Compliance Measurement (DCM) program to determine the scope of the deficiencies.

Under the DCM test, which will take place during the calendar year 2012, US Customs drawback specialists will review a sample pool of drawback claims that liquidated the previous month.  Once the test is complete, CBP will determine next steps.

How will DCM test affect filers?  There may be an increase in requests for constructed paperless entries, and the need to provide information to an office that reviews a claim, which might be different from that where the drawback claim is filed.

The official notice can be found here.

Simplified entry pilot – update

As mentioned in our blog post of November 14, US Customs was seeking applicants to participate in a simplified entry pilot for the air mode of transportation, a key priority of the agency.  Of the 40 applications submitted, CBP has selected 9 participants, and is in the process of notifying them.

Customs’ next step is to hold a meeting of all participants to discuss implementation, and will announce via CSMS message when the pilot will begin.

CBP’s update notice is available here.

Ready for the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act?

On January 1, 2012, the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 takes effect.  The new law mandates that retailers and manufacturers 1) with global sales exceeding $100 million, and 2) that do business in California (broadly defined) to disclose on their websites the steps taken to prevent slavery and human trafficking in their supply chain.

Because the law is broadly drafted and somewhat vague, those businesses that may be subject to the Act’s requirements should consult with legal counsel to determine applicability.  In addition, suppliers to covered retailers and manufactures that are asked to certify their operation should also evaluate their obligations and responsibilities under the law.

For more information on the Act, check out the law firm of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp’s International Trade Alert on this topic.