Progress on Panama Canal expansion

Contractors have completed the first monolith for the set of new locks on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, according to the Journal of  Commerce. The monolith is the first of 46 structures to be built on the Pacific locks, which is part of a grand expansion of the Canal expected to be completed in 2014 and open to commercial traffic the following year.

The expansion will allow so-called “super post-Panamax” ships — with more than double the capacity of current Panamax ships — to traverse the Canal.    As reported previously on this blog, US ports have been preparing for the larger vessels for quite some time.

Access the JOC article here, and the official Panama Canal website here.

Sound off: How effective are CBP’s trade facilitation efforts?

COAC, the Advisory Committee on the Commercial Operations of Customs and Border Protection, wants to know how successful US Customs’ trade facilitation efforts are at lowering the trade’s cost and burden of doing business.  To that end, COAC has posted a survey, seeking responses from both importers and import service providers on current, planned and future CBP facilitation efforts.

The trade efficiency survey results will be tallied by respondent type and industry type, and used by COAC to make recommendations about how Customs will approach partnership benefits.

The survey can be found here.  All responses will be kept anonymous.  Last day to respond is Wednesday, June 27.

ACE: Complexities in shutting down ACS

US Customs is making great strides in rolling out ACE.  Entry filers already have the ability to file entry types 01, 03, and 11 in ACE, which represents over 95% of the entries filed annually.

Presently, however, the vast majority of entries continue to be filed in the legacy ACS system.  The entry summary information is then transferred to ACE which is “CBP’s system of record.”  Simultaneously maintaining two very large systems, and their databases, while attempting to keep then in sync, is very expensive for CBP and requires more programmers.

In order to reduce costs CBP is looking into requiring that entry types 01, 03, and 11 be filed in ACE.  Previously CBP’s position was that the compulsory filing of entries in ACE would not begin until ACE could handle all entry types.

One concern for the trade is the lack of entry edits in ACE today.  CBP plans to begin work on these edits in 2012 (see ACE Priorities and Work Plan document), but it is unclear if all of the edits in ACS will be replicated in ACE.  ABI vendors may need to update their systems to include the edits that CBP does not program into ACE.

Another worry is that current Remote Location Filing requirements do not allow for the filing of ADD/CVD (type 03) entries.  CBP has been encouraged to allow for the filing of type 03 entries remotely.

Finally, surety agents have expressed a concern about their ability to receive data on bonds they underwrite — and for the related entries filed under those bonds — from Customs through the Automated Surety Interface via ACS.  How will this work with ACE?

The Trade Support Network, an advisory board of trade representatives, provides guidance to Customs on ACE issues, including the decommissioning of ACS.   You can monitor their progress here.

Highlights from 2012 AAEI Conference

CustomsNow recently attended and exhibited at the 2012 America Association of Exporters & Importers (AAEI) conference in Washington, DC.  Thanks to all who stopped by our booth to learn more about direct filing.

This year’s conference theme was “Back to the Basics and Beyond.”  Two key discussion topics were:

Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEEs)

CBP and panelists provided an overview of the pilot program (see our previous blog post), which is moving along very well for pharmaceuticals and electronics, and updates on:

  • Port outreach
  • Enforcement
  • CBP organizational structure and staffing
  • Facilitating legitimate trade via risk segmentation
  • Proposed locations for next CEEs

Simplified Entry

Similarly, an overview of the pilot program was provided (see our previous blog post), as well as next steps:

  • Bring on all pilot participants
  • Expansion to other ports
  • Addition of new functionality
  • Expand to other modes of transportation (besides air cargo)

A PowerPoint presentation discussing the above topics and more can be found here:  Beyond the Border and Trade Facilitation

4 months left to transition to ACE e-manifest: rail and sea

As mentioned in our recent blog post, September 29 is the date by which filers must use ACE to transmit required e-manifest information for ocean and rail cargo.  That leaves less than 4 months for the transition.  And since it can take up to 12 weeks to complete programming and receive US Customs’ certification, the clock is ticking for the 12% of ocean carriers and 53% of ABI software developers who are not yet testing ACE rail and sea manifest.  (100% of rail carriers are either in production or currently testing).

See CBP’s recent CSMS on this topic here.