CBP’s Centers of Excellence working well for CE, pharma importers

Under the tenure of former Commissioner Alan Bersin, CBP strived to facilitate trade.  In that regard, one of Customs’ significant accomplishments has been the launch of two Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE), a collaborative effort between the agency and the trade.

As reported in American Shipper, the CEEs were created to expedite processing of imports in two different industries – consumer electronics in Los Angeles and pharmaceuticals in New York.  To develop the program, CPB worked closely with a select group of importers in each industry (who were also enrolled in C-TPAT and ISA).

In the pilot program for pharmaceuticals which lead to the launch of the CEEs,

…small teams of [CBP] commodity specialists trained with leading pharmaceutical companies to learn how their supply chains operate and monitored the way CBP examines cargo from trusted shippers.  The units identified which shippers are at risk for regulatory violations or government-caused shipping delays.  CBP officials say they found many non-productive exams and document reviews being conducted, or cargo detained for clerical rather than substantive reasons.  The experts then educated officers at ports how to make better decisions about whether to hold, examine or release consignments, thereby removing unnecessary holds for low-risk cargo.

Given the success of the pilot, the two CEEs officially launched in LA and NY.  Required import documents for these two industries are now routed to the respective industry centers for validation, protest, PEAs/PSCs and more.  Revenue collection will still occur in the ports of entry.

Although there are still issues related to legal, policy, personnel and process before the centers “achieve full operational processing capabilities,” CBP plans to roll out additional CEEs for the following industries:

  • Agriculture and prepared products
  • Automotive and aerospace
  • Base metals and machinery
  • Consumer products
  • Customs brokers
  • Industrial and manufacturing materials
  • Petroleum, natural gas and chemicals
  • Textiles, apparel and footwear

The full article, “Customer service at the border,” is available here (site registration required).

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