US extends Air Cargo Screening Scheme

CBP_0US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has extended its Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot programme for a further year following representations from freight forwarding representatives, and has reopened the application period for new participants. The pilot was set to expire this month but will now be extended until 26 July 2015, and CBP is also accepting applications for new participants until 26 September 2014.

The programme, which analyses advance data on inbound air shipments to the US to assess risk, is currently in pilot phase, but US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has signalled that it intends to expand it to apply to all inbound air cargo via a “rulemaking”. The extensions follow a letter sent in June to CBP and the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) from a coalition of associations representing air freight forwarding companies, calling on the US government to solicit input from small and medium-sized forwarders before expanding the ACAS programme.

The Airforwarders Association (AfA), the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), and the Express Delivery and Logistics Association (XLA) jointly sent letters to CBP and the TSA noting their support of the concept of the ACAS programme’s risk-based analysis at the shipment level, but expressing concerns about certain issues. In addition to detailing issues regarding potential negative impacts on small and medium-sized air forwarding businesses, the letters included requests to meet with both agencies and representatives from air carriers in June to discuss the concerns and try to resolve them.

TIACA said it was strongly encouraging airlines and freight forwarders to apply for and engage in the pilot. “Only through wide participation, which can fully test the various IT connectivity issues for Advance Filing, as well as understanding the operational impact for the future, will we be able to ensure an effective programme when it becomes mandatory,” TIACA said.

It noted that this extension was for a full year, whereas CBP had only extended the pilot in six-month intervals in the past. TIACA said that following the pilot, CBP plans to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), “and the current estimate is that this may occur in Q3/2015, with the likelihood of possibly Q4/2015 or Q1/2016.”

It said the issuance of an NPRM is followed by a mandatory comment period from industry, after which CBP reviews all of the comments. CBP must then respond to those comments when the final rule is issued.

“Thus, ACAS may not become a mandatory CBP data transmission programme until sometime in late 2016,” TIACA noted. “In comparison, the EU PRECISE programme is currently targeted for the first half of 2016.”  Source: Lloyds Loading List

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