Progress on CBP’s Trade Intelligence initiative

In US Customs’ publication, “Trade Transformation Accomplishments 2012,” CBP discusses its Trade Intelligence initiative (p. 4) which “places individuals from the private sector, representing specific industries, to work with CBP staff to identify issues of mutual interest and to provide CBP with targeting, enforcement, and intelligence information.”

Customs has implemented Trade Intelligence at two of its Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEEs) thus far and has had some success:

  • At the Pharmaceutical CEE (NY), both industry and Customs teamed to publish pocket-sized counterfeit detection guides for CBP field officers
  • At the Electronics CEE (LA), trade and CBP collaboration has led to “large-scale seizures, revenue recovers, and criminal prosecution.”

Curiously, the referenced article makes no mention of Customs’ trade intelligence gathering unit, the Private Sector Intelligence Liaison Office (PSILO), although it is presumed that PSILO is the lead unit here.  According to the Customs’ January 2013 publication, “Trade Transformation:  CBP Initiatives for the 21st  Century“ (p. 15), the agency this year will “deploy PSILO in Auto and Petroleum CEEs and [i]mplement CBP/ICE Commercial Fraud Working Group recommendations to enhance joint enforcement of trade violations.”

CEEs transform trade

US Customs’ Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEEs) continue to expedite import processing at US ports, making life easier for the trade.  This graphic from CBP demonstrates why:

To learn more about CEEs (including the new centers that will open in FY2013), as well as other CBP trade improvement programs, check out the agency’s January 2013 publication, “Trade Transformation:  CBP Initiatives for the 21st  Century.

Possible change in Panama Canal toll calculation

As the expansion of the Panama Canal continues, the Panama Canal Authority may change the way it calculates tolls for commodity carriers and tankers hauling fuels, once construction work is complete in 2015.

According to, the Authority may calculate fees based on the cargo capacity of these vessels, rather than the existing toll system that does not usually reflect such capacity.  That price structure would be more in line with fees charge to container ships, for which tolls have been calculated based on cargo capacity since 2005.

The possible change is purportedly to increase canal traffic, which now represents 5 percent of world trade.  A decision of the toll calculation change is expected in February 2014.

Check out this Panama Canal time-lapse video.

COAC, what have you done for us lately? A lot, it seems.

In the January 2013 print edition of American Shipper, the editorial board sang the praises of the 12th Department of Homeland Security Commercial Operations Advisory Committee (COAC), whose term recently expired.

COAC works closely with CBP, providing an industry perspective to new trade initiatives.  The most recent assemblage of COAC “worked relentlessly for the last two years, producing 43 total recommendations that CBP is implementing or still reviewing.”  Here are some examples of their collaborative efforts:

We are hoping the 13th COAC will build on this momentum in 2013 and beyond, including assistance in securing funding to support ACE modernization.

ACE program updates — 2012 and beyond

US Customs recently issued its  January 2013 “ACEopedia,” highlighting the ACE program’s successes to date, including the many accomplishments in 2012, such as:

Of special interest to US importers are these projects to be worked on in the first half of 2013:

  • Cargo Release – Automated Correction/Deletions:
    • Capability to accept (or deny) corrections and/or deletions to an entry sent by the trade community via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for Simplified Entries already on file with CBP.
  • PGA Message Set:
    • Capability to establish the first phase of two-way system to system communications between PGAs and CBP.
  • Initial Entry Summary Edits:
    • Foundation for the ability to process system “edits” or checks on the quality and accuracy of incoming entry summary data so that CBP can properly assess duties, taxes and fees. Work will begin with Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) Validations.

All of these initiatives support CBP’s mantra that ACE “will ultimately become the ‘single window’ through which the international trade community will electronically provide all information needed by federal agencies for the import and export of cargo.”