Thursday, August 5, 2010

CBP Commissioner Addresses Trade Community Concerns

(World Trade Interactive)

In an undated letter to various trade groups, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin responded to a number of issues raised by the trade community at an April 7 roundtable meeting, as follows.

• CBP expects to soon publish in the Federal Register a notice formally withdrawing its 2008 proposal to revoke the First Sale Rule.

• CBP also expects to soon publish in the Federal Register a notice addressing its July 2008 proposal to establish uniform rules governing determinations of the country of origin of imported merchandise.

• CBP is working to determine whether it could disclose, prior to seizure, information that could be used to identify intellectual property infringement and whether any legislative or regulatory changes would be needed to accomplish this task.

• CBP has drafted a proposed rule that would increase the values for de minimis and informal entry shipments and expects to conclude within the next two months an economic analysis of this proposal. Following that, the rule will have to be reviewed by the Treasury Department.

• CBP hopes to publish by the end of 2010 a proposed rule that will make “substantial” regulatory changes in order to revise and modernize the in-bond process. These changes are expected to include a transition from a paper-dependent entry process to an automated/paperless process as well as tools for CBP to better track in-bond merchandise.

• The assistant commissioner, Office of International Trade, does not review every ruling CBP issues but, in response to complaints from the trade community and Congress about policy changes being made without proper consultation, does review those rulings that result in a change of position. CBP is also developing an internal process to highlight to management any substantive regulatory initiatives, major proposed rulings and modifications of existing rulings prior to their publication.

• CBP is developing a plan to add data elements required by government agencies participating in the International Trade Data System to the data currently received in the Automated Commercial System using the ABI message layout. This data will be transferred to the Automated Commercial Environment and stored and made available to those agencies via the ACE Portal.

• CBP does have a backlog of protests and internal advice requests at headquarters, intends to add additional personnel to the branches responsible for these cases and is piloting a project to make increased use of the National Commodity Specialist Division in the analysis of these cases.

• In response to a request for Free And Secure Trade lanes to begin further back on roads leading to border crossings, Bersin indicated that CBP itself cannot make this change but “would be favorably disposed to approaching the relevant authorities with the trade community to seek solutions in specific locations.”

• On June 9 CBP’s Office of Field Operations reissued internal policy guidance directing that non-security and trade compliance inspections be conducted at ports of entry or unlading instead of ports of arrival.

• CBP will begin to offer two annual C-TPAT conferences a year, one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast or in the Midwest. Each seminar will accommodate approximately 1,200 attendees. CBP is exploring the possibility of webcasting these events.

• A task force created to develop initiatives to allow CBP to manage by account is reviewing the role of account managers, CBP’s account-based risk management efforts, simplified entry and financial processing, and ACE’s role in managing by account.

• The Office of Trade has piloted a two-week advance training session on free trade agreements, other preference programs and textiles that will be rolled out this summer for import specialists and others charged with enforcing such provisions.

• Bersin declined to allow foreign drivers to reposition in the U.S. foreign-based trailers that did not enter and/or will not leave with the same driver. The trade community argued that this flexibility would improve driver and equipment efficiency and reduce truck emissions.