What is the Customs Training Enhancement Act?

Introduced last week by US Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL), the Customs Training Enhancement Act will, if enacted, facilitate the sharing of information between the private sector and US Customs with the goal of reducing the importation into the US of foreign goods in ways that bypass duty collection.

According to Lipinski, the bill is modeled after a well-established program in which US steel industry representatives “have taught Customs agents how to spot products that have been deliberately mislabeled”, misclassified or undervalued in an attempt to avoid paying duties.

The US Government Accountability Office estimates that since 2001, the US  has been shorted by $600 million in duties, and that “90 percent of all transshipped or mislabeled items originated in China.”

See Rep. Lipinski’s press release.

At last, a free trade agreement summary

US Customs has just published a long overdue side-by-side comparison of all existing US free trade agreements, such as NAFTA, CAFTA and UKFTA.

For now, the featured FTAs are limited to non-textile agreements.  CBP has not indicated when a similar summary of FTAs governing textiles will be available.

The summary makes it quite obvious just how complex these agreement truly are.  In addition to serving as an official reference tool, the document can help demonstrate to a trade professional’s senior management why appropriate resources are necessary to comply with their numerous and confusing requirements.

The FTA summary is available here.

ACE: CBP webinar on PGA message set pilots

This Wednesday, March 20, CBP is hosting a free webinar on the upcoming ACE Participating Government Agency (PGA) message set pilots.

The PGA message set is the harmonized set of data that will be collected electronically from the trade community by CBP, through ACE, on behalf of the PGAs. The initiation of the upcoming pilots is a significant step toward delivery of the single window for all trade and government agencies involved in importing and exporting.

The seminar, which runs from 2 – 4 PM EST, will focus on the pilots for two PGAs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).   For login and other information, see CBP’s CSMS #13-000133.

New COAC members announced

US Customs recently published the names of the 13th COAC members:

  • David Berry, Swift Transportation Corporation, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Leman Chip Bown, Jr., FedEx Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Scott Boyer, Kraft Foods Group, Inc., Madison Wis.
  • Scott Childers, The Walt Disney Company, Kissimmee, Fla.
  • Mary Ann Comstock, UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Sweet Grass, Mont.
  • Jeffrey Coppersmith, Coppersmith Global Logistics, Inc., El Segundo, Calif.
  • William Earle, National Association of Beverage Importers, Washington, D.C.
  • Matthew Fass, Maritime Products International, Newport News, Va.
  • William Ferguson, NYK Line (North America) Inc., Secaucus, N.J.
  • Brandon Fried, Airforwarders Association, Washington, D.C.
  • Carol Hallett, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C.
  • Suzanne Hoeger, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, Ill.
  • Vincent Iacopella, Janell Group of Los Angeles, Inglewood, Calif.
  • Karen M. Kenney, Liberty International, Inc., Pawtucket, R.I.
  • Kathleen Neal, Regal-Beloit Corporation, El Paso, Texas
  • Julie Ann Parks, Raytheon Company, Plano, Texas
  • James Phillips, General Motors LLC, Detroit, Mich.
  • Elizabeth Shaver, Airlines for America, Washington, D.C.
  • Edward Ted Sherman, Target Corporation, Brooklyn Park, Minn.
  • George Weise, Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services, Washington, D.C.

COAC is a 20-member council that advises the secretaries of the US Departments of Homeland Security and Treasury on the commercial operations of CBP and related DHS and Treasury functions.

As previously blogged here, the 12th COAC made some significant accomplishments, including ACE enhancements and CEEs.

Take the CEE survey

Do you use one of US Customs’ Centers of Excellence & Expertise for imports?  If so, CBP would like to hear from you via its first-ever customer satisfaction survey.  To gain a better understanding of customer perceptions of CEEs, CBP is asking both importers and non-importers to participate.

The survey is available here.  Last day to participate is March 13.

Sequester delays may hit ports hard

Port Newark (Star Ledger file photo)

The so-called sequester — automatic cuts in federal spending that began on March 1 — is predicted to have significant impact on the movement of cargo through US ports.

According to the Newark Star Ledger, US Customs has warned of five-day delays for container inspections at the Port of New York and New Jersey,  the busiest port on the East Coast.   Port representatives predict the delay will cause a greater “backlog of containers that the crowded port doesn’t have room for.”

On the West Coast, there are similar concerns.  As reported in The Washington Post,

Art Wong, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, which handles 40 percent of the nation’s imports, said uncertainty about how the cuts will affect operations make it difficult to plan.  “We’re not sure where this is going to go,” he said.  “There are a lot of people whose jobs depend on this [port].”

The Department of Homeland Security, which includes US Customs, expects delays to become widespread “as the department begins furloughing employees.”   Furlough letters may be sent to employees as early as tomorrow.

For the latest CBP guidance on the sequester, see the agency’s information page.