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CEEs (Centers of Excellence & Expertise)

The Evolution of CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) – did you know you were participating?

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

CEESCBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (‘CEE’) continue to evolve and the Trade received an update during CBP’s recent Trade Symposium.  Breakout sessions were held throughout the second day with representatives from all 10 CEE’s.

Following is a recap from CNI’s own Nic Adams, VP of Client Services, who was in attendance…

CBP is in the process of assigning importers to a CEE and expects to have all importers transitioned by the end of this fiscal year (September 30th.)  Generally, the HTS numbers with the highest value determines which CEE an importer will be assigned to.

How can you determine which CEE you have been assigned to?  The secret is to look at your Entry Summaries (CF 7501) and review the team number that has been assigned to the entry.  Specifically, the 3rd digit of the team number determines the CEE.  For example, if the 3rd digit consistently ends in ‘4’ then you, most likely, have been assigned to the Apparel, Footwear & Textiles.  If the 3rd digit is not consistently the same number then you have not yet been assigned to a Center and your entry summaries are still being reviewed by the teams within your port of entry.

A list of all the teams within each CEE can be found online here.

CBP explained that you can appeal to them if you don’t believe your company has been assigned the most appropriate Center.  For example, if you import parts to manufacture an electronic device you may be assigned to the Base Metals CEE and it may be more appropriate for you to be associated with the Electronics CEE.

Within each Center there are three distinct areas; Partnership, Compliance and Validations, and Enforcement.  All three areas are learning more about their respective industries.  This is accomplished by reviewing entries, supporting documents, and even meeting with importers to better understand their industry.  This helps CBP to better identify anomalies and possible entry errors.

The Partnership team is involved with importers which are participating in Trusted Trader programs such as the Importer Self-Assessment or C-TPAT.  Those importers are assigned an Account Manager within that Center and it was noted that National Account Managers (‘NAM’) are being transitioned the Centers in addition to importers.  It may be that if you already have a NAM that you will receive a new Account Manager if your NAM is not associated with your Center.

The Compliance & Validations team is reviewing entries, issuing Requests for Information (CF 28), and taking other steps to ensure that an importer’s entries are compliant with Customs’ regulations.

Enforcement is, obviously, following up on violations and assessing penalties when appropriate.  They are also reviewing allegations of entry violations by parties that feel they may be at a competitive disadvantage due to improper filings.  Many of these allegations involve potential AD/CVD violations and the Centers are working with the Commerce Department so that scope rulings are clearer and it is easier to determine if a product is within the scope of the order.

Register now for US Customs West Coast Trade Symposium

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

2017 w coast trade symp


CBP’s West Coast Trade Symposium will be held on May 24-25, 2017 at the DoubleTree Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

This year’s symposium includes discussions on E-Commerce, Interagency Vision, Streamlining Processes and Innovation and Technology.

New this year, the WCTS will feature multiple tracks to choose from and Center of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) management roundtables.

CustomsNow will be in attendance.  See you there!


All 10 CEEs at 2016 East Coast Trade Symposium

Thursday, October 27th, 2016





Just announced by CBP:  The ten Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) Directors will conduct interactive discussions through an individual speed roundtable style format. Symposium participants may rotate to the tables of their choice for discussions on one of many  CBP trade priorities including enforcement, strategic trade processing, industry collaboration, efficiencies gained and account based principles.

Don’t miss this opportunity to have an up close and personal discussion around the mission and operational focus of the Centers.


  • Apparel, Footwear & Textiles – San Francisco
  • Electronics – Los Angeles
  • Machinery – Laredo
  • Natural Gas & Minerals – Houston
  • Base Metals – Chicago
  • Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising – Atlanta
  • Industrial & Manufacturing Materials – Buffalo
  • Automotive & Aerospace – Detroit
  • Agriculture & Prepared Products – Miami
  • Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals – New York

The 2016 East Coast Trade Symposium will be held on December 1-2, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City hotel in Arlington, VA.  REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN



6 more CEE Directors granted authority for entry summary at ports

Friday, April 8th, 2016

As announced in CSMS #16-000227, US Customs will vest authority for post-release trade processes in the Center Directors for sixcee map more of the nation’s 10 Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEEs), effective March 23, 2016.

This grant of power, pursuant to a 2014 CBP Delegation Order, will provide the directors of the following CEEs with trade authority for post-release trade processes of entry summaries, in certain ports of entry, for the respective industry tariff lines:

  • Agriculture & Prepared Products
  • Automotive & Aerospace
  • Base Metals
  • Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising
  • Industrial & Manufacturing Materials
  • Machinery

The Delegation Order does not remove any authority from the Port Directors but serves to share trade authority until full regulatory changes are completed.

CEE_Operational_Expansion 2016


Importers seem to like CEE program

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

cee mapIn our experience, CustomsNow™  has seen importers who are participating in CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) program have quite a positive experience. Primarily, the program provides these importers with the opportunity to educate the CEE staff regarding their businesses, reducing the need for separate and often duplicate port requests, slowing cargo.  Moreover, the CEE staff has been doing a remarkable job advocating on the importers’ behalf in certain situations.  For example, the issuance of CF28s are no longer duplicated at the port level.  In addition, the CEEs can assist with the reduction of redundant cargo exams at the port of entry.

The CEEs seem to be living up to their goal that “[t]he Centers were established to increase uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and further strengthen critical agency knowledge on key industry practices.”

The only slight downside, according to some importers, is that the volume of requests for electronic invoices (AIIs) at the entry summary level tends to increase, at least initially.  It appears that the Centers works hard to learn the nuances of the importers business transactions, then, over time the AII requests lessen, leaving the CEE in a good position to provide that tailored support.  So a little extra time invested by the importer up front can significantly payoff down the road.

CEE Directors granted authority for entry summary at ports

Friday, June 26th, 2015

cee map


As announced in CSMS #15-000390, US Customs will vest authority for post-release trade processes in the Center Directors for two of the nation’s 10 Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEEs), effective Monday, June 29.

This grant of power, pursuant to a 2014 CBP Delegation Order, will provide both the directors of the Petroleum, Natural Gas & Minerals CEE and the Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals CEE with responsibility for the entry summary piece of cargo clearance in certain ports of entry, while Port Directors “retain singular authority over those matters pertaining to the control, movement, examination, and release of cargo,” as well as issues related to drawback and fines, penalties and forfeitures.


CEEs Phase III Operational Expansion doc

List of Affected Ports & Field Offices

CBP launches Trusted Trader program test

Thursday, June 26th, 2014


US Customs has launched a test of its Trusted Trader initiative, “a new program that will streamline the process through which importers can establish to CBP that they strive to secure their supply chains and strengthen their internal controls for compliance with … existing [customs] laws.”

Working in conjunction with the CPSC and FDA, CBP plans to use the Trusted Trader program to unify the current C-TPAT and ISA programs.  (Non-participating companies will still have the option to participate exclusively in C-TPAT and apply to the ISA program).  In addition, the Trusted Trader program will leverage the expertise of Customs’s CEEs “to manage trusted trader accounts from an industry perspective.”

CBP lists numerous benefits of the Trusted Trader program, including:

  • All the incentives provided by the C-TPAT and ISA programs
  • Reduced FDA targeting/examination risk score
  • Potential for penalty offsets in penalty mitigation decisions
  • Additional benefits if participating in Reconciliation Prototype program
  • Exemptions from on-site visits from Drawback Specialists
  • And much more

The Trusted Trader test is expected to last for 18 months, and the application process is now open.

See last week’s Federal Register announcement for more details.

CBP makes changes to the scope of CEE program

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Effective March 10, US Customs has modified the scope of coverage at six of its Centers of Excellence and Expertise, a pilot program started in 2011 as a collaborative effort with the trade to facilitate the import of certain categories of goods.  The test program, a vital component of CBP’s Trade Transformation efforts, has successfully expanded to 10 centers nationwide.

As the program matures, CBP has removed, added and/or reassigned various HTSUS headings that are under the purview of the following CEEs:

  • Automotive & Aerospace
  • Base Metals
  • Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising
  • Industrial & Manufacturing Materials
  • Machinery
  • Petroleum, Natural Gas & Minerals

In light of these changes, importers participating in the CEE test at these centers should carefully review CBP’s actions to ensure that their inbound merchandise still qualifies for inclusion in their respective CEEs.

Additionally, CBP is expanding the entry types that can be processed at all CEEs to include Types 01, 04, 06, 08, 11, 23 and 24.  Moreover, 14 additional entry types will be added in the near future.

For more information about these and other changes affecting CEEs, consult CBP’s Federal Register notice.


Attend next week’s Annual State of the LA/LB Port & CBP Update

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

owit_oc_logo_smOn January 9, Women in Trade – Orange County is hosting the Annual State of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport event with a panel of the following speakers from US Customs LA/LB officials:

  • Todd Owen – Director, Field Operations
  • Carlos Martel – Port Director LA/LB Seaport
  • Elva Muneton – Assistant Port Director, Trade

Also participating in the roundtable will be:

  • Dan Solis, Director of LA District of Import Operations, FDA
  • Hank Tapy, Director, Western Region, Office of Import Surveillance & Inspection, CPSC

Discussion topics will include:

  • Headlines of 2013 — Year in Review
  • Current Updates for Trade Compliance
  • Forecast of Trade Issues, Challenges & Priorities for 2014
  • Expected Operational Changes at National and Port Locations
  • Risk Assessment Methodologies
  • New CPCS and FDA Regulations and Standards
  • Import/Export Exams, Investigations and Inspections
  • Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEE)

Register for this event to be held in Newport Beach.

More details on federal shutdown’s impact on CBP

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 1.29.19 PMSo how does the current federal government shutdown specifically impact US Customs’ operations?  It’s difficult to expect complete and timely information from CBP since — naturally — that agency’s communications are hampered by the shutdown, although CBP was able to report yesterday, via CSMS, that all Client Representatives offices would be closed.

Luckily, Global Trade Academy has posted a fairly comprehensive list of what CBP functions/offices continue to remain open for business despite the shutdown, such as the CEEs, revenue collection, and FDA and APHIS.  The full listing was obtained from the CEO of AAEI.

Since only about 10% of US Customs’ employees will be furloughed during the shutdown, the impact is not as severe as in other federal departments.

It is too early to speculate whether the shutdown will affect CBP’s East Coast Trade Symposium, slated for October 24 and 25.