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August, 2011

Free webinar on Post Summary Corrections (PSC) in ACE

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

US Customs has announced a free webinar on the recently launched Post Summary Correction (PSC) functionality in ACE.  As reported in this blog on May 9, PSC functionality became available in June for entry ACE type 01 and 03 summaries filed in ACE.  One of the notable benefits of this new functionality is an importer’s ability to file electronic PSCs in ACE up to 270 days after the date of entry (currently 10 days if filing in ACS rather than ACE).

The webinar is scheduled for next Thursday, September 1, from 1:00 – 2:30 PM EST.  Although CBP issued FAQs on the new functionality (see our blog post of July 19), it is reaching out to the trade to submit questions in advance of the webinar to focus the presentation on key issues of concern.

Register for the webinar here.

Will there be a container shortage yet this year?

Monday, August 15th, 2011

As reported on this blog back in March, many in the trade predicted a shortage of containers and a resultant freight rate increase for 2011.

Now, however, Alphaliner, a market analyst for the liner shipping industry, foresees no container shortage during peak season.  As reported in the Journal of Commerce, the primary reasons are that “[l]easing companies and ocean carriers have ordered sufficient numbers of new containers during the last 12 months, while demand growth has failed to match earlier projections.”

In addition, Alphaliner indicates that falling demand has caused “prices for new TEU dry containers drop from $2,900 at the beginning of the year to less than $2,500 per TEU.”

See the full article here.

QX/WX air in-bond functionality again delayed

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

US Customs has announced that QX/WX air in-bond functionality for ABI, set to launch on August 8, has been delayed once again.

The agency originally planned for the functionality to launch in 2009, and then later in 2010.   Now, this week’s launch has been postponed due to technical issues.  Although the functionality was launched in production, it has been disabled until a fix can be deployed.

See CBP’s official notice here.

Confidentiality of manifest information – tips for importers and consignees

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Is there a foolproof method for importers or consignees to maintain confidentiality of identifying information listed on shipping manifests?  Unfortunately, the short answer is “no.”  While an importer or consignee may request that US Customs treat its identifying information as confidential, the infinite number of variations of this information (e.g., spelling of company name) precludes confidentiality for each possible variation.  There are, however, steps that importers and consignees can take to minimize risk in this area.

Under federal law, the public may collect manifest data at every port of entry.  Moreover, reporters may collect and publish names of importers from vessel manifest data unless an importer/shipper requests confidentiality.  Specifically,

[a]n importer or consignee may request confidential treatment of its name and address contained in inward manifests, to include identifying marks and numbers. In addition, an importer or consignee may request confidential treatment of the name and address of the shipper or shippers to such importer or consignee.  19 CFR 103.31.

As many importers and consignees have learned, however, confidentiality is not assured even CBP grants such a request.   A bill of lading may often contain a variant of a company name, and if that variant is not included on the confidentiality request, confidentiality will likely not apply to the information on that particular manifest.  For example, if the John Smith Corporation requests confidentiality for its corporate name, and a manifest lists “J. Smith Corporation” or “John Smith Corp., Inc.”, confidentiality would not technically apply since these names were not within the scope of the confidentiality request.

Nevertheless, the trade may take steps to mitigate this.  To ensure the broadest confidentiality exemption, an importer or consignee may consider including in the confidentiality application:

  • Every variation of the names that has been used previous shipping documents
  • Likely variations of the name
  • Misspellings of the company name
  • Any D/B/A or A/K/A previously used
  • Names of sister companies, including those in other countries
  • All company addresses

Even if an importer or consignee diligently follows these suggestions, confidentiality is not 100% guaranteed.  One incorrect keystroke by someone entering data in a document somewhere in the supply chain can result in a “new” variation of a company name that is not covered by a grant of confidentiality.

US Customs and the trade have had discussions about the shortcomings in this process.  Perhaps that is why CBP has for the time being disabled an online form used to make confidentiality requests (NOTE:  requests can still be mailed to CBP as specified in the regulations).  To tighten up this process, one possible solution is to leverage IRS/EIN numbers instead of relying on guessing at spelling of names.

July 2011 ACE Trade Account Owner Update

Monday, August 1st, 2011

US Customs has just issued its July 2011 ACE Trade Account Owner Update.

Highlights include:

  • Next ACE Release:  e-Manifest:  Rail and Sea.
    • Given the success of e-Manifests:  Trucks, CBP will allow rail and sea carriers to transmit electronic manifest data to ACE (in accordance with Customs’ plan to replace AMS with ACE; CBP expects ACS to be decommissioned for rail and sea manifests by July 2012)
    • Trade testing successfully completed; trade pilot to begin in September, with port rollout in Baltimore, Buffalo and Brownsville to follow in October
    • Deployment will provide numerous benefits to the trade, as well as new rules and edits.
  • New ISF capabilities deployed on July 13 - See our previous blog post for more details.
  • Cargo Release Update – CBP has completed specifications documents, which are now under formal review; design and acquisition phase expected to commence in early 2012.

The ACE Trade Account Owner Update is available here.