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NY/NJ ports reopen after shutdowns; retailers still worried

Monday, February 1st, 2016


From Retail Dive:

Dive Brief:

  • Cargo was stranded for nine hours Friday as some 1,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association staged an unscheduled work stoppage.
  • The port workers are reportedly frustrated with some actions of the The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a New York/New Jersey agency established in 1953 to fight corruption and crime at the ports. The Waterfront Commission has been under fire for some time for what critics see as meddling in the shipping industry. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last year vetoed a bill to abolish the commission but admitted a need for reform. Efforts in that state to dissolve the commission and transfer operations to the state police are ongoing.
  • The Port of New York & New Jersey is the busiest port on the East Coast, with more than three million containers coming through annually and bringing in imports worth more than $200 billion. The stoppage last week was ultimately declared illegal by an arbitrator.

Dive Insight:

  • Friday’s port work stoppage came after a winter storm also shut down operations there for two days, and one retail group warned that such actions could be devastating for retailers, which are already battling inventory problems.
  • “This is déjà vu for retailers, and an unwelcome start to 2016. A shutdown on the East Coast of any meaningful duration will have dire consequences for those dependent on spring inventory deliveries,” Kelly Kolb, VP of government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in an emailed statement to Retail Dive. ”A long-lasting strike would ultimately impact thousands of jobs along America’s supply chain.”

Cargo pre-inspection to expedite US, Mexico customs clearance

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

mexUSflagsAccording to the January 2016 edition of American Shipper*, the United States and Mexico have taken considerable steps towards an integrated border management system between the two countries that offers pre-inspection of cargo before it crosses the border.

  • Clearing cargo in advance relieves pressure on ports of entry that are often congested during peak traffic periods
  • Expediting the flow of cargo creates more efficiency for businesses  and provides incentives for them to increase their level of international trade
  • In October 2015, the US Department of Homeland Security and Mexican official signed a memorandum of understanding that allows customs officers from both countries “to work side-by-side for the first time enforcing their respective trade and security regulations on each other’s soil.”
  • Three pilot programs:
    1. Laredo, Texas airport — Mexican customs officers are physically located here and pre-screen air cargo shipments by looking at advance shipment information and the manifest.  Suspicious cargo can be pulled for inspection prior to loading.
    2. Otay Mesa crossing (San Diego and Tijuana) — Launching in early 2016, CBP officers and agricultural specialists will be stationed in the Mexican compound to inspect agricultural products moving on truck to the US.
    3. Santa Theresa, NM/Juarez checkpoint — Planning in place for joint inspections of shipments originating from, and arriving at, giant maquiladora assembly plant operated by Foxconn for Dell and other major electronics retailers.
(*Site registration required)


Antidumping — furniture importer on the hook for $15 million for duty evasion

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015



Last week, as reported in American Shipper, Texas-based University Furnishings agreed to pay $15 million to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit for evasion of import duties.  The United States alleged that University Furnishings knowingly classified dormitory bedroom furniture imported from China as office or other types of furniture not subject to duties.  Interestingly, the suit originated as a whistleblower lawsuit, under that provision of the False Claims Act, by University Loft Co., a manufacturer of student furniture.

ACE: TSN seeks members for working group on CPSC cargo release pilot

Monday, August 31st, 2015


The International Trade Data System (ITDS)  Committee of the Trade Support Network (TSN), an advisory board of trade representatives that provides guidance to US Customs on ACE issues, is seeking members of the trade to form a working group to discuss a technical solution to be used by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission in the pilot to test the new cargo release and control functionality of ACE/ITDS.

You must apply by this Friday, September 4.  See CSMS #15-000642 for details.

ACE: TSN seeks committee members to address upcoming post-release functionality

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

seal_aceThe Entry Committee of the Trade Support Network (TSN), an advisory board of trade representatives that provides guidance to US Customs on ACE issues, is seeking members of the trade for help in working through matters on forthcoming ACE functionality.  Specifically, the organization:

“…would like to establish Trade Working Groups to discuss upcoming requirements and capabilities for Post Release functionality development that began in Increment 10 and will extend to future Increments.  Specifically, we are looking for trade volunteers to participate in the following three working groups:

    • Drawback
    • Reconciliation
    • Liquidation/Protest

In order to make these discussions manageable and productive, we would like no more than 10 trade members per working group (members can sign up for multiple working groups).

Once the working group members have been identified, we are targeting scheduling several on site sessions [in Washington, DC], beginning the week of August 17th or August 24th.  Your input on which week is preferable would be appreciated. Each group will have one full day to meet with the ESAR Team (either Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday).  Once we hold our first meeting, we will determine whether additional on-site meetings or teleconferences will be required.”

If you’re qualified and interested, please contact Amy Magnus [] and Lee Sandler [] with Working Group preference and availability for meetings week/day of August 17th and week/day of August 24th.

The TSN provides a forum for the discussion of significant modernization and automation efforts with the trade community. There are approximately 300 members of the TSN that represent the entire breadth of the trade community, including trade associations, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, sureties and others.


How to obtain a GSP refund

Monday, July 27th, 2015



In follow-up to the passage of the Trade Preferences and Extension Act of 2015, which reauthorized the Generalized System of Preference (GSP), importers are entitled to seek refunds for duties paid for eligible goods retroactive to July 31, 2013.

CBP recently posted its GSP Refund Process for eligible filers, which is available here.  In addition, the Tuttle Law Office provides guidance for refund seekers, available here.






Truck turn time, rates soar at LA/LB

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Traffic jam


Shippers using the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex have been hit with increased delays in truck turn times, and ironically are paying more for diminished service levels.

According to the Journal of Commerce, the average turn times at the port complex’s 13 container terminals have increased by 50% in the last year — from about an hour to 90 minutes — which is attributed to the past year’s chassis shortages, intermodal rail service problems, increase in drayage rates and ILWU’s past job actions which were part of the now-settled West Coast port labor slowdown.

The twin ports have formed stakeholder groups to address the issues that are causing increased turn times.  However, as vessels calling in the ports get larger, the congestion persists.   And now the trucking industry is able charge shippers for excess truck waiting times — the “new normal.”   (*JOC site registration required)

West Coast ports container volume sags despite settlement of labor dispute

Monday, July 6th, 2015
Port of LB cranes © 2009 Regular Daddy

Port of LB cranes © 2009 Regular Daddy



In the lingering aftermath of the West Coast ports labor dispute, importers and exporters continue to divert cargo to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, driving down container volume in the west by 2% year-over-year.  Although West Coast port congestion has dissipated, the East and Gulf ports continue to grow in container volume, in double or high single digits.  See full post in the Journal of Commerce. (*JOC site registration required)

GSP extended through 2017

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

foodprocessingYesterday, President Obama signed into law the Trade Preferences and Extension Act, which, among other things, reauthorizes the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) until December 31, 2017, with retroactive treatment for eligible goods that were imported after the program lapsed on July 31, 2013.

According to the White House,

Since authorization of the GSP program lapsed in mid-2013, U.S. businesses that utilize GSP have paid over $1 billion dollars in tariffs on GSP products that previously entered the United States duty-free. This has been an especially heavy burden for the many thousands of small businesses that count on GSP to keep their costs down. Renewal of the program will eliminate these duty costs on GSP goods, ease the flow of trade from many developing countries, including some of the poorest countries in the world, and benefit U.S. businesses and consumers alike.

Products that are eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP include: most manufactured items; many types of chemicals, minerals and building stone; jewelry; many types of carpets; and certain agricultural and fishery products.



West Coast ports: Who pays for chassis storage? Importers?

Monday, June 8th, 2015

chassisA chassis shortage was a key issue in the recently settled labor dispute that crippled US West Coast ports, and in response, chassis operators at the gigantic Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex in March created a chassis pool to address inefficient chassis use at the ports.

Flash forward three months, and chassis continue to be a thorny problem at West Coast ports.

According to the Journal of Commerce:*

“Until last year, shipping lines owned most of the chassis that were used in harbor haulage. They stored their chassis at the terminals so there would always be equipment available for containers when they were discharged from the vessels. A typical terminal would devote eight to 10 acres to container storage.

However, over the past year, the shipping lines sold most of their chassis to chassis-leasing companies, and marine terminals are developing a business model for chassis storage that appears to be headed in one of two directions. If they have the space, they will allow storage, but will charge for it, or they will ban chassis storage altogether.”

It is expected that the new chassis owners will have to pay for storage through a gate fee which will ultimately be passed on to shippers, something now happening at the Port of Oakland.   The organization of marine terminal operators, which is currently evaluating chassis operations at a big picture level, claims that this may not be the case for other West Coast ports.   However, chassis pool operators remain concerned that an Oakland-type scenario will negatively impact the ports’ competitiveness.

(*JOC site registration required)