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Key CBP leaders announced

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

US Customs and Border Protection logoFrom last week’s CBP press release:

In an important next step in advancing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trade Transformation efforts, [CBP] Commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske announced selections for two key trade positions within CBP – Ms. Brenda Smith for the Senior Executive Service position of Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, and Mr. Richard F. DiNucci for Executive Director of Cargo Conveyance and Security, Office of Field Operations.

Benchmark study: more importers are self-filing

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

american shipper 2American Shipper’s sixth annual Import Operations and Compliance Benchmarking Study has found an increase in the number of shippers who self-file customs entries:

  • The number of “systems-based” respondents (companies that use at least one application to facilitate their import functions) that outsource their customs filings decreased from 72% to 53% since last year
  • 24% of systems-based respondents self-file (direct file) customs entries, up 10% from last year
  • 23% of systems-based respondents use a combination of direct filing and outsourcing customs filings, also up 10% from 2013
  • Even “manual’ respondents (companies that use other technologies outside of import functions) are direct filing

The benchmarking study is available here (registration required).

 

O Canada, what have you done to our back-up plan?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

 

US importers fearing a West Coast port strike have seen their contingency plans start to unravel.

According to the Journal of Commerce, although contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association continue, some importers have attempted to divert cargo to Canadian ports to avoid delays during peak season in case of labor disruptions.  Unfortunately, the Port of Vancouver has become overwhelmed by the increased volume, and in response, large carriers such as Hapag-Lloyd have announced that the cargo will now be discharged in US West Coast ports after all.

The full JOC article can be found here (site registration required).

 

Peak season trucking rate hikes predicted

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

truckAs the trade heads into peak season, the nation’s trucking industry is experiencing a critical shortage of over-the-road drivers, and shippers may be paying for it.  According to an article in the Journal of Commerce, the scarcity of drivers is so acute that Swift Transportation, the largest US truckload carrier, announced that it will dramatically increase driver salaries — and competitors are expected to follow suit.  Shipping rates are predicted to rise accordingly, by as much as 4-5% as estimated by Swift.

According to Mike Regan, who serves as advocacy chair for the shipper group NASSTRAC, “‘[t]here’s no question, rates are going to rise…. The challenge for trucking companies is creating a compensation structure that allows them to retain drivers drivers but still get the rates they need from shippers to basically justify higher wages.’”

Increase containerized import volume at US ports — driving up demand for truck transport — is also a factor in the predicted rate increase.

The full Journal of Commerce article is available here (site registration required).

 

 

West Coast cargo will “keep moving”

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Although their  labor contract expired yesterday, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union has agreed to continue negotiating with the Pacific Maritime Association, averting a West Coast port strike for the time being.  See the parties’ joint press release for more information.

Nevertheless, in case there is a trade disruption, CBP is prepared with a contingency plan covering the following scenarios:

  • Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port and Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port and Not Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted to Another West Coast Port and Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted to Another West Coast Port and Not Discharged
  • Vessel Diverted from Intended West Coast Port to Gulf or East Coast for Discharge
  • Vessel Rests at Anchor and Not Diverted

See CSMS 14-000393 for details.

 

 

“Horrible” conditions at NY/NJ seaport

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

trafficContainer terminals at the New York – New Jersey seaport complex are suffering the wrath of drayage company owners who claim conditions are “horrible” and “broken” and adversely affecting their businesses.  One of the major underlying causes appears to be the terminals’ limited truck gate hours, causing mile-long truck backups at the gates.  Additional factors include slow turn times due to ILA labor shortages and severe winter weather.

Although a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey task force promises to issue a report in June recommending improvements, it may be too late for the transport companies, whose customers are threatening to divert shipment to other East Coast ports.  See the full story in the Journal of Commerce (site registration required).

Tax law changes hit maquiladora industry

Friday, January 24th, 2014

mexico-flagOn January 1, 2014, a series of tax reform measures took effect in Mexico that have widespread impact on the country’s maquiladora operations along the US border, which account for 85% of Mexico’s manufacturing exports.

As reported in CGMA Magazine, among the changes are:

  • Tightening the definition what constitutes a “maquiladora”
  • Eliminating the maquiladoras’ exemption from VAT on imported materials and replacing it with a tax credit
  • Increasing the VAT in Mexico’s border states from 11% to 16%, in line with the rest of the country

After outcry from the maquiladora industry, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto issued a decree that addressed some of these concerns, including:

  • Imposing a two-year period that permits foreign owners to meet the criteria of the new definition of “maquiladora”
  • Allowing maquiladoras to claim the VAT credit in the month the VAT is paid (rather than the following month)

However,  in his decree, Peña Nieto also abolished income tax exemptions for maquiladoras, so their tax rate will increase from 17.5% to the standard 30% Mexican tax rate.

 

 

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.

 

Government shutdown affects CBP’s client reps

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

From CBP’s CSMS 13-000492:

  • Due to the lapse of appropriations and the emergency furlough, all Client Representative offices are closed.
  • To report urgent production technical issues with any automated system during this closure, please contact the Technology Service Desk at 1-866-530-4172. All other issues will be handled once the Client Representative offices re-open.

Port of NY and NJ suffers crushing delays

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013
© Port Authority of NY & NJ

© Port Authority of NY & NJ

Importers shipping to the New York – New Jersey port complex have been subject to extensive delays this summer, an immediate result of technical glitches with the terminal operator’s new operating platform.  However, according to the Journal of Commerce, the software issues “set off a chain reaction that exposed the port’s vulnerabilities in labor, facilities and operating practices.”

As a result, ships were diverted to other ports, truckers encountered hours-long waits, and drayage companies accumulated significant losses.  Meanwhile, retailers are worried about the upcoming peak season for holiday imports.

Plans are in place to reduce delays, including hiring more longshore workers and extending hours for truckers to access terminal gates (nearly 90% of the port’s traffic moves via truck).

The full article is available here.