Another acronym: What is the BIEC?

For the uninitiated, BIEC stands for the Border Interagency Executive Council.  According to US Customs, the organization,

“…is made up of senior executives from 10 U.S. federal agencies and collaborates on issues including the federal government’s efforts to transform the trade process, ongoing efforts across federal agencies to partner with the trade, and the use of automation to streamline the international trade clearance process.”

By coordinating efforts, the Council hopes to achieve its goal of OGAs presenting themselves as “one US government” to the trade in all dealings.  To that end, one of BIEC’s initiatives is to encourage agencies to move towards the adoption of electronic, rather than paper, filings.

The Council’s activities are in sync with CBP’s ongoing trade transformation efforts, such as centralizing commodity specific import activities in the Centers of Excellence & Expertise.

For more information, see Customs’s news release.

ILA strike avoided…for now

The International Longshoreman’s Association and the US Maritime Alliance have agreed to extend their discussions for 90 days, avoiding a potential ILA strike that could have shut down East Coast and Gulf Coast ports on September 29th.

US importers were no doubt relieved by the news, which could have adversely affected retail peak season imports into the US.  Many were already taking action to deal with disruptions at affected ports.

The full story is available from Reuters.

Less than 2 weeks to transition to ACE e-manifest: rail & sea

September 29th is rapidly approaching.  As mentioned previously in this blog, after that date, ACE will be the only approved EDI for transitioning required advance rail and sea cargo information and ABI in-bond transactions to US Customs.  At that time, CBP will begin to decommission AMS for this functionality.

Most ocean and rail carriers and ABI in-bond filers have migrated to ACE.  If you have not, CBP urges you to meet with your Client representative to establish a migration date prior to September 29th.

Retail peak season looking up despite possible ILA strike

Consistent with earlier predictions, retailers are bullish on the upcoming peak season.  As reported in American Shipper, “[r]etailers are bringing in more merchandise for the holiday season this year,” according to National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold.

Imports into key US ports followed by Global Port Tracker were measurably higher in August, as compared to last year’s tally, and the forecast for the remaining months of 2012 is a year-over-year increase.

A potential strike by the International Longshoremen’s Association at East and Gulf Coast ports later this month may have been responsible for some of the August increase, with retailers trying to hurry shipments into the US before a strike.   Also, some retailers are switching deliveries from potentially strike-affected ports to West Coast ports as a precaution.

Access the American Shipper article here (site registration required).

DATE/TIME CHANGE – Trade forum on FDA refusal/redelivery updates

In follow up to our post of September 4, please note these important changes to the date and time of the forum and deadline by which to reserve your spot (changes in bold):

  • Date/Time:       Tuesday, September 25, 2012 @ 9:30 AM
  • Location:          Port of Long Beach Administrative Building, 925 Harbor Plaza, Long Beach, CA  90802
  • Reservations:  Call Marissa Flores or George Sebastian, CBP Office of Port Director @ (562) 366-5700 (deadline Sept. 21)
  • Questions:        Call Supervisory Import Specialist Harout Barsoumian @ (562) 366-5710

New Center of Excellence & Expertise opens for auto and aerospace imports

Yesterday, CBP officially opened the newest Center of Excellence & Expertise (CEE) for importers in the automotive and aerospace industries.  The center, based in the port of Detroit, is the third CEE that US Customs has launched, following the success of the pharmaceutical center in New York and the electronics center in Los Angeles.

According to CBP, the Centers of Excellence & Expertise, devoted to a particular industry,

… offer one-stop processing to lower the trade’s cost of business, provide greater consistency and predictability and enhance CBP enforcement efforts. The centers are coordinated from strategic locations, but are manned by CBP personnel across the country. The centers represent CBP’s expanded focus on “Trade in the 21st Century,” transforming customs procedures to align with modern business. By having the centers focus on industry-specific issues, CBP is able to provide tailored support to unique trading environments.

A fourth CEE, with a focus on the petroleum, natural gas, and minerals industries, is expected to open in Houston later this month.

CBP’s official announcement on the Detroit CEE can be found here.  In addition, please see our previous blog posts that touch on the CEE program.

Trade forum: FDA refusal and redelivery process updates

Next week, the Port of Long Beach will be hosting a trade forum for the importing community on planned updates to the FDA and CBP refusal/redelivery process.  Topics will include:

  • FDA exams and entry review
  • Exports and destructions
  • New CBP/FDA joint redelivery process
  • CBP refund and cancellation policy
  • Refusal process for merchandise entered at LAX

Details are as follows:

  • Date/Time:       Wednesday, September 12, 2012 @ 9:30 AM
  • Location:          Port of Long Beach Administrative Building, 925 Harbor Plaza, Long Beach, CA  90802
  • Reservations:  Call Marissa Flores or George Sebastian, CBP Office of Port Director @ (562) 366-5700 (deadline Sept. 10)
  • Questions:        Call Supervisory Import Specialist Harout Barsoumian @ (562) 366-5710

(For more about the Port of Long Beach, please see our blog post about its Middle Harbor “green” project.)

Record use of Periodic Monthly Statements (PMS)

US Customs has announced that Periodic Monthly Statement use hit a record high in August when 68% of all duties and fees on eligible entry summaries were paid using the PMS feature of ACE.

Increasing numbers of importers are taking advantage of the benefits of PMS (see our previous blog post), while becoming more familiar with the functionality of ACE.   Don’t miss out!