Archives For US Customs and Border Protection

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Index, and National File Tracking System of Records, implemented new or modified uses of information maintained on individuals as they pass through the immigration process. The new requirements became effective as of 18 October 2017.

The new regulation updates the categories of individuals covered, to include: individuals acting as legal guardians or designated representatives in immigration proceedings involving an individual who is physically or developmentally disabled or severely mentally impaired (when authorized); Civil Surgeons who conduct and certify medical examinations for immigration benefits; law enforcement officers who certify a benefit requestor’s cooperation in the investigation or prosecution of a criminal activity; a­nd interpreters.

It also expands the categories of records to include: country of nationality; country of residence; the USCIS Online Account Number; social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results; and EOIR and BIA proceedings information.
The new regulation also includes updated record source categories to include: publicly available information obtained from the internet; public records; public institutions; interviewees; commercial data providers; and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements.

With this latest expansion of data allowed to be collected, it begs the question: How does one protect sensitive data housed on electronic devices? In addition to inspecting all persons, baggage, and merchandise at a port-of-entry, CBP does indeed have the authority to search electronic devices too. CBP’s stance is that consent is not required for such a search. This position is supported by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has determined that such border searches constitute reasonable searches; and therefore, do not run afoul of the Fourth Amendment.

Despite this broad license afforded CBP at the port-of-entry, CBP’s authority is checked somewhat in that such searches do not include information located solely in the cloud. Information subject to search must be physically stored on the device in order to be accessible at the port-of-entry. Additionally, examination of attorney-client privileged communications contained on electronic devices first requires CBP’s consultation with Associate/Assistant Chief Counsel of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

So what may one do to prevent seizure of an electronic device or avoid disclosure of confidential data to CBP during a border search? The New York and Canadian Bar Associations have compiled the following recommendations:

  • Consider carrying a temporary or travel laptop cleansed of sensitive local documents and information. Access data through a VPN connection or cloud-based warehousing.
  • Consider carrying temporary mobile devices stripped of contacts and other confidential information. Have calls forwarded from your office number to the unpublished mobile number when traveling.
  • Back up data and shut down your electronic device well before reaching the inspection area to eliminate access to Random Access Memory.
  • Use an alternate account to hold sensitive information. Apply strong encryption and complex passwords.
  • Partition and encrypt the hard drive.
  • Protect the data port.
  • Clean your electronic device(s) following return.
  • Wipe smartphones remotely.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: article originally published by Mondaq.com, author: Cory, J (2017:11)

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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

australian-and-us-flag-mapsAustralia is to boost its intelligence sharing with the US customs and border protection service.

The immigration minister, Scott Morrison, said the Australian and US customs and border protection agencies had agreed to a formal strategic partnership from 2014, which would see two Australian officers posted to the US to strengthen intelligence co-operation.

Morrison said a trial of the closer engagement over the past year led to a crackdown on organised crime and resulted in several major drug seizures.

“These results demonstrate that governments must work together to effectively combat transnational crime and terrorism,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

The move to strengthen intelligence sharing with the US comes after a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of secret documents, including details of how Australian spies targeted the phone of the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Source: theguardian.com

Securing US Cargo - Infographic by Journal of Commerce (Click to enlarge)

Securing US Cargo – Infographic by Journal of Commerce (Click to enlarge)

The Journal of Commerce provides a very useful infographic on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s efforts and initiatives in securing US – cargoes from foreign ports. While the Container Security Initiative (CSI) was one of the very first post 9/11 security initiatives it has since been supported by a number of other partnership programs involving other customs agencies and the US trade community. These have spawned many of the policies and guidelines being adopted by Customs agencies around the world where the WCO has ‘formulated’ and ‘standardised’ such requirements for broader international use, in conjunction with capacity building programs.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has published a report, “DHS Could Improve Cargo Security by Periodically Assessing Risks From Foreign Ports,” recommending that U.S. Customs and Border Protection should continually update and expand its Container Security Initiative.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, CBP has taken steps to reduce vulnerabilities associated with U.S.-bound cargo container shipments by placing customs officials at foreign seaports to determine whether U.S.-bound shipments from those ports pose a risk of containing weapons of mass destruction or other terrorist contraband. While cargo from foreign ports and ships is critical to the U.S. economy, it can also be exploited by terrorists.

When CSI was launched in 2002, CBP initially selected 23 CSI ports largely on the basis of the volume of U.S.-bound container cargo, but it increased the number of risk factors in selected additional ports as it expanded the CSI program beginning in 2003. Through 2007, CBP added 35 ports to the CSI program based on additional criteria, such as strategic threat factors and diplomatic or political considerations. As of July 2013, CBP was coordinating targeting of U.S.-bound cargo container shipments with 61 foreign ports in 34 countries.

Cargo shipment data from PIERS, JOC’s sister publication, supports the GAO’s view that the U.S. needs to update and expand CSI in order to continue effectively monitoring incoming cargo. In particular, it appears the U.S. should form new CSI partnerships with Vietnam and India, which are the Top 2 exporters to the U.S. with no established CSI partnerships.

Although Vietnam is “relatively stable” in terms of its government, it is geographically close to Laos and Cambodia, and is therefore risky because of transshipment issues, according to Susan Kohn Ross, an attorney with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. She also noted there has been a trend of manufacturers moving from China to Vietnam recently, as labor has become more expensive in China, resulting in more Vietnamese exports to the U.S.

Meanwhile, local uprisings in India recently have increased the country’s vulnerabilities to terrorist plans, despite the nation’s stable government, Ross said. India’s proximity to Pakistan also exposes it to terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida and the Taliban, and because Pakistan already has an established CSI partnership, terrorists might find it easier to smuggle cargo via India, she explained.

Conversely, if budgetary constraints ever force the CSI program to condense its monitoring, then CSI partnerships could perhaps be downgraded or eliminated entirely with the governments of Jamaica, Oman and Greece, which are the smallest exporters to the U.S. with established CSI connections, according to PIERS.

However, expanding and even contracting the CSI program present challenges. For example, CBP officials said in the GAO report that it is difficult to close CSI ports because removing the program from a country might negatively affect U.S. relations with the host government.

Furthermore, implementing a CSI partnership in a country exposes jurisdictional issues and regulatory differences, Ross said. For instance, the U.S. considers drugs to be a national security issue, but that’s not always the case in other countries, so prioritization of monitoring has to be worked out. Issues like which nation should pay for customs officers to be trained, or who should fix scanning equipment when it breaks, also must be resolved.

Ross further explained that it is “highly unlikely” that the federal government will ever expand CSI to cover 100 percent of all U.S. imports, an idea that CBP considered in 2009, but never implemented because of budget constraints. She said that scanning equipment is not advanced enough to expeditiously monitor all U.S.-bound cargo, and not all countries would even be willing to put CSI in place anyway.

Ultimately, nothing is foolproof, and if terrorists really wanted to wreak havoc on the U.S., they could probably more easily attack the U.S. through its borders, via Canada and Mexico, Ross said. However, CSI acts as an important deterrent, limiting the number of chances a terrorist has to harm to the U.S. Source: www.joc.com

isfU.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced that on July 9, 2013, it will begin full enforcement of Importer Security Filing (ISF or 10+2), and will start issuing liquidated damages against ISF importers and carriers for ISF non-compliance.

According to the CBP release, “in order to achieve the most compliance with the least disruption to the trade and to domestic port operations, it has been applying a “measured and commonsense approach” to Importer Security Filing (ISF or 10+2) enforcement.

The Importer Security Filing (ISF) system—also referred to as the “10+2” data elements—requires both importers and carriers to transmit certain information to CBP regarding inbound ocean cargo 24 hours prior to lading that cargo at foreign ports. These rules are intended to satisfy certain requirements under the Security Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act of 2006 and the Trade Act of 2002, as amended by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002.

Under the ISF, the following 10 data elements are required from the importer:

  1. Manufacturer (or supplier) name and address
  2. Seller (or owner) name and address
  3. Buyer (or owner) name and address
  4. Ship-to name and address
  5. Container stuffing location
  6. Consolidator (stuffer) name and address
  7. Importer of record number/foreign trade zone applicant identification number
  8. Consignee number(s)
  9. Country of origin
  10. Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule number

From the carrier, 2 data elements are required:

  1. Vessel stow plan
  2. Container status messages

Source: CBP.gov

4209_image002January, 2013 saw the United States and the European Union implemented the mutual recognition arrangement for their respective supply chain security programmes. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) administers the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), which is now recognised as equivalent to the European Union’s Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme.

Should they elect to allow CBP to share certain information with the European Union, US importers authorised under C-TPAT will be considered secure and their exports will receive a lower-risk score by the customs administrations of EU member states. In practice, certification translates into time and money savings for parties dealing with trusted operators. In that sense, certified operators are successfully marketing their status as a distinguishing competitive advantage.

Both programmes are voluntary, security-based programmes aimed at improving supply chain security. As programme members, importers receive lower risk-assessment scores in customs administrations’ computer targeting software. Therefore, members are subject to fewer security-related inspections and controls. The mutual recognition arrangement between the United States and the European Union allows for members of one programme to receive reciprocal benefits when exporting to the other jurisdiction.

However, not all C-TPAT members qualify for full AEO benefits. Only Tiers 2 and 3 C-TPAT importers (considered as more secure) may receive a lower risk-assessment score, and consequently undergo fewer inspections when exporting to an EU member state. In addition, in order to receive these benefits, C-TPAT members must expressly elect for the United States to share certain information with the European Union and certify that their exports meet all applicable requirements.

The mutual recognition arrangement may also exempt members’ facilities from undergoing validation site visits by both administrations when initially being certified or during revalidation visits. This benefit is available for every tier of C-TPAT membership.

The mutual recognition arrangement applies only to C-TPAT importers which also act as exporters. A C-TPAT manufacturer will benefit from the arrangement only if it also acts as the US exporter. For example, if a US company owns a C-TPAT-certified manufacturer in Mexico that directly ships merchandise to the European Union, those shipments will not benefit from the arrangement.

CBP’s targeting system recognises AEO-certified entities by their manufacturer identification number. Certified manufacturers will receive benefits under the arrangement regardless of whether they are the EU exporter. A certified exporter which is not a manufacturer may obtain a manufacturer identification number to gain from the benefits of mutual recognition. As such, AEO-certified manufacturers and exporters may benefit under the arrangement, but only US exporters are eligible for benefits.

Although the United States and the European Union have recently announced the possibility of a US-EU free trade agreement, this arrangement is a trade facilitation measure that companies may elect to participate in immediately, regardless of the results of potential free trade agreement negotiations.

The United States also has mutual recognition arrangements for supply chain security with Canada, Japan, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan. Source:  Sidley Austin LLP, and The International Law Office

"Uncertain Times" - U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said earlier this week that her department would be slashing 5,000 border-patrol agents when the cuts go through, which would ultimately slow some of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S.

“Uncertain Times” – U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said earlier this week that her department would be slashing 5,000 border-patrol agents when the cuts go through, which would ultimately slow some of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S.

Is this a process of auto-destabilisation in the USA? At least terrorists aren’t being blamed for this……will be interesting to see what instructions are fed to CBP (US Customs) Field Operations in foreign countries where the Megaports and CSI initiatives are in operation. Besides being grave times , I’d say these are interesting times…

Lloyds reports that the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is warning of major delays for incoming containers and other cargo at seaports because of sequestration, but early reports suggest that business is operating normally on arterial waterfronts, at least for now.

In a letter to cargo and travel industry groups after automatic cuts to federal spending, known as sequester cuts or sequestration, went into effect at the weekend, CBP deputy commissioner David Aguilar said the agency faced “furloughs, reductions in overtime and a hiring freeze, [which] would equate to the loss of up to several thousand CBP officers at our ports of entry, in addition to significant cuts to our operating budgets and programmes”.

Describing the current phase as an “uncertain time”, Aguilar warned of major disruption for travellers and cargo.

For the latter, sequestration could result in “decreased service levels in our cargo operations, including increased and potentially escalating delays for container examinations of up to five days or more at major seaports, and significant daily back-ups at land border ports of entry”.

CBP also issued a set of “cargo priorities under sequestration”, which vowed that security would not be compromised, but said that “CBP has redirected resources toward only the most critical, core functions and discontinued or postponed certain important but less critical activities in an effort to reduce budget expenditures”.

The agency said it would hold weekly conference calls to update the industry about the situation.

Shippers and cargo interests agreed that five-day delays could cause major bottlenecks at container ports, and would cost shippers extra money during an already challenging economic time.

The only consolation would be that individual ports or shippers would not have to worry about rival ports siphoning business away, because every US port would be up against the same problem.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reported normal operations and said in a statement that it continued to monitor the situation.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie appeared unimpressed with the threat attributed to sequestration.

“I do not think sequestration at one cent on the dollar is going to have grave effect, or anybody is going to notice it all that much, except for some federal employees who will be furloughed,” He told a press conference.

The sequester cuts $85 billion, or 2.4% of the annual federal budget of $3.6 trillion, to be spread over seven months to September 30.

Roughly half the sum involves defence, and there appears to be discretion in where precisely the cuts are administered.

Nevertheless, the shipping industry is taking the matter seriously. Other than cargo delays, the maritime sector is factoring in reduced maintenance dredging and a degradation of some US Coast Guard functions, including search and rescue, as possible effects of the sequester cuts. Source: LloydsList

Australian Customs hosted visits from three international experts on trade data harmonisation - Bill Nolle, Dietmar Jost and Eric Sunstrum.

Australian Customs hosted visits from three international experts on trade data harmonisation – Bill Nolle, flanked by Dietmar Jost and Eric Sunstrum of the WCO.

It is with sadness we [WCO] learnt that our former colleague, the former Chairperson of the DMPT passed away on 29 December 2012 after a brief period of illness. He was fighting a very aggressive cancer.

Bill Nolle was a fabulous contributor to our [WCO] area of work and he has left his imprint in many aspects of our work at the Data Model Project Team and the Information Management Sub Committee. Version 3.0 of the WCO Data Model owes its richness and quality thanks to Bill’s splendid contribution. Bill authored the WCO Single Window Data Harmonization Guidelines/ UN/CEFACT Recommendation 34.  We [WCO] owe it to Bill the methodology of Gather-Define-Analyze-Reconcile for data simplification and harmonization. Bill brought passion to his work. His speeches and interventions were always intense and engaging and he will be missed in his professional environment.

His legacy includes an eLearning module in which you can hear him explain how data harmonization was carried out in Jordan. The module remains a favorite for the professional users and trainers alike.

Bill retired from US Customs and Border Protection where he worked for 30 years. He and his wife moved to the Outer Banks from Frederick, MD in 2009, to be near the beach that he loved. At the time of his death he was employed by Nathan Associates Incorporated and Crown Agents as a consultant. Bill travelled extensively during his tenures with US Customs and Border Protection, Nathan Incorporated, and Crown Agents, making friends on each continent in the world.

The following obituary was posted by a colleague in Jordan –

Bill has been a breath of fresh air that visited our country (Jordan), every once in a while as Customs Consultant. He was an inspiration and a driving force to all,  giving advice when needed, and always willing to help. A proud husband, father and (Opa), that we felt his family was our own, Not to forget, a professional Pita Bread baker,  we were hoping to someday try. One would think, God loved him so,  and wanted him closer more. Bill will always be in our hearts,  a father figure, a teacher, and a colleague holding one of the greatest hearts I’ve known. My deepest condolences to his loving family, and may he rest in peace.   Posted by: Juliette Najjar – Amman – Jordan – Friend / Colleague   Jan 17, 2013.

Sources: WCO, Gallup Funeral Services, and www.tributes.com

A CBP vehicle patrols the border in Arizona in 2010. (Matt York/AP file photo)

A CBP vehicle patrols the border in Arizona in 2010. (Matt York/AP file photo)

Nearly 150 Customs and Border Protection officers were arrested or indicted for corruption over the last eight years, a new report has found. A majority of the officers were stationed along the Southwest border, the Government Accountability Office determined. An additional 2,170 were arrested for misconduct in the same time period. GAO cited CBP’s lack of review and oversight of its employees and monitoring processes as complicit in allowing corruption to fester within the agency. (Readers please bear in mind that CBP has over 50,000 members)

Incidents of corruption included fraud, harboring aliens, selling immigration documents and allowing loads of narcotics through a port or checkpoint. Of the 144 corruption incidents, 103 — more than 70 percent — were considered “mission-compromising.” CBP even reported some instances of “infiltrators” seeking and gaining employment at the agency for the sole purpose of engaging in mission-compromising activity. For example, an officer stationed in El Paso, Texas, was arrested in 2007 for conspiring to import 5,000 pounds of marijuana each month into the United States. Less than 1 percent of arrests for misconduct, however, were related to CBP’s mission.

GAO recommended CBP — part of the Homeland Security Department — better track which pre-employment screens assist in identifying unacceptable job applicants. CBP currently conducts background investigations and polygraph examinations for potential hires, but does not monitor which tactics are the most effective. GAO also suggested CBP assess the feasibility of expanding the polygraph program to include occasional tests for current employees. Additionally, the auditors said the agency should improve the quality assurance of its screenings and set a timetable to complete a comprehensive employee-integrity strategy. CBP concurred with all of GAO’s recommendations, saying while an overwhelming majority of its employees are honest and hardworking, there is little room for error. “Any act of employee corruption interferes with the agency’s mission to secure the nation’s borders against all threats and facilitate legitimate travel and trade,” Jim Crumpacker, DHS’ chief liaison to GAO, wrote in a letter to the auditors. Source: www.govexec.com

The following article comes from the 22 June 2011 issue of the American Shipper. It was written by the president of The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA). I do believe that it is poignant for African’s to better understand what makes trade tick. It is particularly relevant in the South African context where certain service providers and consultants believe it is they that ‘turn the wheels of trade’ and that the ‘real’ end users are merely a consequence to push the ‘enter button’. While the ‘brokering industry’ has been tainted by criminal activities (in many cases ex-customs officials) there is a legitimacy to the continued existence for the trusted customs broker. The importance is even more pronounced today  where South African importers and exporters will soon face the brunt of the new Customs’ law – the need for skilled and experienced brokers should be an imperative within our local industry. So lets put ignorance aside and consider the article, below.

As a third generation customs broker, I know what it takes to enter goods into the commerce of the United States. As president of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, I know that the customs brokerage industry consists of thousands of individuals who work for small and large, old and new, struggling and successful companies for fees that do not reflect the true value of the service they provide.

It is unfortunate that some would say we “stubbornly stand in the way of progress.” The fact is that without the leadership of the brokerage industry and the NCBFAA, importers would still be taking their commercial invoices and bills of lading to the Customs House only to wait weeks for release and it would be impractical to conduct international business.

If you have never cleared goods entering the United States, I encourage you to try. It is naive to believe that all a broker does is push a couple of buttons and magically goods are released and delivered to your door.

To start, let’s look at the new Importer Security Filing (ISF). Pre-arrival shipment information that was considered unavailable three years ago is now given to U.S. Customs and Border Protection prior to loading for more than 90 percent of the goods heading by vessel to the United States. Customs brokers or freight forwarders receive and process practically all that information before transmitting it to CBP. What if you didn’t have access to the broker’s Automated Broker Interface system or the forwarder’s Automated Manifest System connection to transmit this data? How would you send the ISF? How would CBP receive it? Would every importer have to establish and maintain a CBP-compatible computer system? At what cost?

CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin has said that other agencies generate two of three import exams. In addition to myriad CBP regulations, there are numerous other regulations you must know to import successfully. Do you know the Food and Drug Administration rules? What about the Bio-Terrorism Act — did you research it yourself or hire another industry expert to figure out how this was going to impact your company? Then there are FDA product registrations and Prior Notice requirements and now the new Food Safety Act. Of course your broker can help with that. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Transportation Department — more than 20 agencies with requirements that must be met every time a shipment is presented for entry. Anti-dumping, free trade agreements, quota, denied parties, State Department, International Traffic in Arms Regulations, Office of Foreign Assets Control, etc. Can you imagine what would happen if your broker didn’t know about those things? How would your goods get cleared? Would your goods be detained or seized? What if multiple shipments were en route when the problem was identified? It is a good thing that you have somebody in your corner paying attention to this stuff.

I hear over and over how CBP wants to reduce the cost of importing. Let’s review the costs associated with importing: Freight ocean/air, duty and customs fees, broker fee and delivery fee. Freight we can’t control, duty is a given, Merchandise Processing Fees and other government fees we cannot control. There are exam fees, Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems exam fees, storage fees caused by exams, VACIS handling charges by some carriers and port facilities, trucking fees to get containers positioned for exams, and so on. A great number of these costs are a result of government security efforts. The broker fee averages about 0.1 percent of the cost of the imported goods, and then there is the truck fee plus a clean truck fee to pickup and deliver the goods. Hmm … what should be reduced?

“It is a good thing that you have somebody in your corner paying attention to this stuff.”

During the CBP Trade Symposium, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) described a tip about two containers that might contain non-compliant goods so they worked with CBP to perform an intensive exam. Luckily the tip did not pan out and the goods were found to be compliant. “Disaster avoided!” What CPSC didn’t say or didn’t know was that the storage and handling costs associated with having two containers held for two weeks exceeded $4,000. There was also no mention about whether the goods were time sensitive. At most ports in the nation, if a government agency puts a hold on a shipment, the expenses do not go on hold. Demurrage and per diem costs accumulate daily. Who creates those extra costs? I suggest that those who want to reduce the cost of importing consider where the real costs are being accrued — it is not in the brokerage industry, which works very hard to help reduce the cost of importing. 

That leads to the discussion of using brokers as a “multiplier” to reach small and medium-size importers. That is, in fact, what brokers do for the thousands of importers who know their product but have limited knowledge of the importing process. We get the importer’s goods cleared through the maze of government regulation and delivered to them within days of arrival into the United States. Talk about a multiplier. The fact is that we do that for businesses of all sizes, from the biggest multinational corporations with multiple import divisions and thousands of different products to the start-up business with a single product. Moreover, we do it every day … routinely.

Let’s talk about the Automated Commercial Environment. Do you know why few brokers use ACE? The system doesn’t always work and you can’t use it to release a shipment into the commerce of the United States. While you can use ACE for certain entry related functions, to the extent that brokers do utilize ACE, they must maintain two operating systems and train their personnel to perform limited tasks in both systems. What a nightmare! Talk about inefficiency and the bloated cost of importing!

We would love to have ACE working as promised. For more than 10 years the brokerage industry has gone to Congress and asked for money for ACE development. Three billion dollars later, the system is a fraction of what was promised and we have been told it will have reduced functionality in many of the areas that are crucial to our businesses. Would you change to a new system if it was worse than the one you currently use? The answer is “no” and neither will we.

Two years ago, the NCBFAA gave CBP a white paper that outlined the minimum system requirements needed before we would encourage our members to make the switch. Once ACE development has met those minimum requirements, we will encourage our membership to transition to the new system. CBP understands exactly where we are on this and we continue to vigorously support ACE development. We are excited about the progress that Cindy Allen has made in her limited time as the ACE project leader. That gives us hope that this endless project will have value and will be completed before we all retire.

The brokerage industry is comprised of highly regulated, dedicated professionals who must pass a rigorous examination to become a licensed customs broker. Did you know the annual pass rate for this examination is less than 10 percent? That is a lower pass rate than the CPA exam, the attorney’s bar exam, doctor medical boards, or the insurance broker exam. Talk about tough. Five years ago, the NCBFAA developed a six-month certification program called the Certified Customs Specialist (CCS). At the outset of the program, licensed brokers who wanted to participate were grandfathered into the CCS program, but had to earn 20 units of continuing education annually. Interested parties who were not licensed customs brokers, brokers who missed the grandfathering, and anyone who simply wanted to learn more about the import process, could enroll in the CCS program. We encourage anyone with a desire to learn more about the importing process to take the CCS course. In our role as professionals we know that we must keep current with the regulatory changes and in an industry where change occurs daily, annual continuing education is important.

We appreciate the recognition that the brokers are the most knowledgeable and trade savvy individuals to effect positive change on their industry. We are the biggest supporters of ACE, ISF, Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and other government programs that are reasonable and improve trade facilitation. We make the highly complex, tightly regulated and difficult process of importing into the United States so easy that not only the biggest corporations can do it but also the smallest ones can do it just as well.

We welcome positive change but, yes, we are stubborn when promises made to us are not kept and the costs associated with short-sighted, ill-conceived programs are dumped on our industry and the trade.

There’s a lot more to customs brokerage than pushing a button. Licensed customs brokers handle more than 95 percent of the entries filed with CBP with the single goal of getting our customer’s goods entered into the commerce of the United States legally, quickly and as efficiently as possible. And we do it proudly, professionally and humbly.

Is this situation any different elsewhere worldwide?

Publication of the latest USCBP Border Patrol Strategic Plan reflects and builds on the transformation of the United States’ relationships with Mexico and Canada, particularly in the areas of border management and security. The joint Declaration of Principles for the 21st-century border represents an enhanced and strengthened commitment to fundamentally restructure the way we manage our shared border. The depth and breadth of cooperation that occurs now between the United States and Mexico was unthinkable even a few years ago. Similarly, the Beyond the Border declaration between Canada and the United States has an equally significant potential in what is already our historically extraordinary relationship with Canada. These developments have created unprecedented opportunities with both Mexico and Canada, in which DHS and CBP will play a defining role, to improve our security and economic competitiveness – and CBP will play a defining role in taking advantage of those opportunities. The Border Patrol in turn is key to advancing CBP’s security agendas with Mexico and Canada, working with its law enforcement counterparts in each country to identify and mitigate threats.

The U.S. Border Patrol is a premier law enforcement organization, recognized around the world for expertise, capabilities, and professionalism. CBP’s officers and agents are the frontline, the guardians of the Nation’s borders. We honor and are proud of them, and we thank them for everything that they do to protect America and the American people. Source: CBP.gov

So there you have it – for a real dose of commercialized Customs and what it can do for the good folks in America, and anywhere else in the world for that matter, check out the strategic plan by clicking here! You’ll be forgiven if you thought you were reading an edition of Jane’s Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis. Most customs and border management agencies around the world can only dream about such impressive kit! 

Related items

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the European Union (EU) signed today a Mutual Recognition Decision between CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program and the EU’s Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) program.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and European Union Taxation and Customs Union Directorate Director-General Heinz Zourek sign the Mutual Recognition Decision between CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program and the EU’s Authorized Economic Operator Program.

CBP Acting Commissioner David V. Aguilar and Director-General Heinz Zourek, European Union Taxation and Customs Union Directorate (TAXUD) signed the decision, which recognizes compatibility between the EU and the U.S. cargo security programs.

“Today’s decision on the mutual recognition of the EU and U.S. trade partnership programmes is a win-win achievement: It will save time and money for trusted operators on both sides of the Atlantic while it will allow customs authorities to concentrate their resources on risky consignments and better facilitate legitimate trade,” said Director-General Zourek.

C-TPAT is a voluntary government-business initiative to build cooperative relationships that strengthen and improve overall international supply chain and U.S. border security. C-TPAT recognized that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with the ultimate owners of the international supply chain such as importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers. Source: US CBP

Related article

The US Bureau for Customs and Border Protection  has money to run commercial trade processing system (ACE) but not expand it. Customs and Border Protection has US $140 million to operate and maintain a commercial trade processing system, but there’s no money in the 2012 budget to further develop the program. The lack of development money, particularly for the simplified entry process, has caused concern amongst business community members. Simplified entry is something that Customs and the trade community are looking for to further automate import processing and lower transaction costs. Source: USCBP

CBP – An ode in modesty

February 10, 2012 — 1 Comment

There’s nothing like beating the breast and extolling the homeland’s unselfish generosity for the benefit of mankind, or am I being facetious? Today’s post on the US Customs and Border Protection‘s website titled “CBP Leads World Customs Organization on Natural Disaster Responsiveness” , is a case in point. The reader is left in no doubt as to who was responsible for recent developments that provide for a Customs role in natural disasters. I read with interest New Zealand Customs‘ role in the Christchurch earthquakes last year – very understated and with empathy for the survivors. The WCO consists over 177 affiliated customs administrations / border agencies each of whom make some form of contribution to it’s various committees and resulting accords or standards. So what if CBP made a major contribution, its a cheap shot to boast at the expense of others who might also have contributed, if not to the same extent. Read the article here!

U.S. Customs and Border Protection received a second Unmanned Aircraft System Predator-B at the Naval Air Security Operations Centre in Corpus Christi, Texas—the first of two UAS’s funded through the Southwest Border Security Bill Supplemental. The UAS will provide critical aerial surveillance for U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed along the Texas-Mexico border.

The CBP UAS Program operates Predator-Bs from operation centres in Arizona and Texas which allows CBP to deploy unmanned aircraft along the Southwest border from the eastern tip of California across the common Mexican land borders of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The UAS Operations Centre in Corpus Christi supports counter-drug operations in the Western Caribbean and Eastern Pacific, disaster relief and humanitarian support in the Gulf Coast region, and rapid deployment throughout the southern tier of the U.S. and the Western Hemisphere.

View a videofile – http://www.dvidshub.net/video/embed/105254

Since its inception, the CBP UAS program has flown more than 11,500 UAS hours supporting border security operations and disaster relief and emergency response, including various state governments and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These border security efforts have led to the seizure of approximately 46,600 pounds of illicit drugs and the detention of approximately 7,500 individuals suspected in engaging in illegal activity along the Southwest Border. Source: CBP