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U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced that all 10 of its Centers of Excellence and Expertise Centers are now operating at full capacity. The full operation of all 10 centers is the culmination of considerable work within CBP and with trade stakeholders to streamline operations and modernize the way CBP does business. The centers provide centralized points of contact for specific industries such as apparel, electronics, machinery, natural gas, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and more.
“The Centers transform the way CBP interacts with trade stakeholders while meeting the needs of economic growth and facilitating supply chain security,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “As one of the agency’s major modernizing efforts to streamline trade operations, the Centers increase uniformity at our ports and enhance CBP’s industry expertise to better enforce the nation’s trade laws.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a public meeting that was held on March 21, entitled “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act: Prevention-Oriented Import System Regulations and Implementation.” The public meeting provided importers and other interested persons an opportunity to discuss import safety regulations and programs, including final rules for foreign supplier verification programs for importers of food and human and animals and accreditation of third-party certification bodies. Every importer of food will soon need to assess the potential hazard of the food product they import and verify that the supplier has established preventive controls to address those hazards.
From the official FDA constituent update:
"Participants will also be briefed on the status of FDA’s Voluntary Qualified Importer Program, which is still in development. Additionally, the public meeting will provide importers and other interested persons an opportunity to discuss FDA’s comprehensive planning effort for the next phase of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act implementation relating to import safety programs, which includes establishing the operational framework for these programs and plans for guidance documents, training, education, and technical assistance. The meeting is also designed to answer questions about these import programs and provide an opportunity for interested persons to make public comments."
Get the official FDA story here.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (OTR) are working to reconstruct the Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) because of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). More information has been provided in regards to the proposed plan for the reconstruction of the way MPF is currently calculated. MPF is currently calculated on 0.3464 percent with a minimum of $25. The restructuring MPF would affect all formal entries at a minimum of $30 MPF.
From Express Trade Capital on the restructuring:
"Rather than being calculated on an ad valorem basis, which is prohibited under TPP, the MPF would be a charged as a flat fee based on the value of the shipment. The MPF is currently calculated at 0.3464 percent of entered value for entries above $2,500, with a minimum fee of $25 and capped at $485 per entry. This restructured MPF would affect all formal entries imported into the U.S. with the fee breakdown being as follows:
TSA asks that you please leave these items at home! If an item resembles a real bomb, it is prohibited! When these items are found, they can cause large delays. Novelty items are also prohibited from being brought on the aircraft. For example, the comb knife as illustrated was discovered in a carry-on bag at the Lexington Airport which could be considered a concealed knife. Concealed knives can lead to fines and arrests!
From the offical TSA Blog:
"Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $11,000. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions; that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items."
Read the entire blog entry from TSA here.
Last week, President Obama signed H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. This is also known as the Customs Authorization Bill. This legislation is an important and relevant breakthrough for CBP because it is the first reauthorization for their agency since being created in 2003. "By authorizing CBP, the Act establishes a modern foundation for the agency’s critical missions to counter terrorism and transnational crime, advance comprehensive border security and management, and enhance U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel," stated an article by U.S Customs and Border Protection.
The article also stated:
"The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act aligns with these goals by enhancing CBP’s ability to prevent violations and take strong actions against violators. It bolsters our ability to prevent and disrupt the flow of counterfeit goods into the U.S., a critical tool to safeguarding U.S. intellectual property rights. The Act also formally recognizes CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs), one of the agency’s major efforts to modernize and streamline operations by consolidating certain operations by industry sectors. It also strengthens CBP’s efforts around Preclearance, creating mechanisms to expand and fund these agreements, further extending CBP’s security capabilities abroad. And, imperative to human rights protections around the world, the Act eliminates obstacles to preventing imports made with forced or child labor into the United States."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been working closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Border Interagency Executive Council, and the White House in order to track and assess stakeholder readiness for the mandatory filing of electronic entires and corresponding summaries in the ACE. Serious progress has been made, but some concerns remain regarding stakeholder readiness. An updated timeline has been created for the transition to ACE for electronic entry and entry summary filing.
"This updated timeline continues to align with our December 2016 deadline for full implementation of the Single Window via ACE," an article by the NCBFAA stated, "On March 31, 2016, filers will be required to file in ACE for certain entry types as outlined in the updated timeline."
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) changed the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to require shippers to verify the weight of their containers. The IMO decided to make this change because of road and sea accidents caused by overweight containers.
"Since the new SOLAS container weight rules were released, and as the deadline for implementation rapidly approaches, there have been an increasing amount of questions, few answers and genuine concern among shippers and the industry as to the potentially serious impact of the rule on U.S. trade and competitiveness," stated an article by the NCBFAA.
Please see the full article from the NCBFAA that includes details of the new rule and answers to some questions that have been raised.
Even though the ACE go live date was pushed back to March 31 for some entry types by US Customs, JAS USA is still pushing forward with processing all entries as ACE Cargo Release. JAS participates in all applicable pilot programs, the most recent is the APHIS Core Live Animal Program. JAS was the first broker to participate and transmit the first Live Animal entry with APHIS and CBP. The pilot entry of a purebred horse was a success. Way to go JAS!
Date: March 16, 2016
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
This is an intensive, one-day program that covers the key information you need to know to comply with the EAR. Counselling and other professionals from the Bureau of Industry and Security will cover the major elements of the U.S. export control system for commercial exports. This fast-paced program is ideal for those with busy schedules.
Date: April 5-6, 2016
Location: Alexandria, VA
This workshop will help experienced export compliance practitioners take their compliance knowledge and their company's compliance program to a higher level. Successful participants will possess a good basic understanding of export controls.