IFCBA and WCO Celebrate 25 Years of Collaboration

The International Federation of Customs Brokers (IFCBA) celebrated its 25th anniversary with meetings at the World Customs Organization (WCO) Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on 18-19 May 2015. » more

About the IFCBA

The IFCBA has been representing the interests of the worlds' customs brokers and their clients since 1990. Many of our member associations have been involved in similar activities within their own countries for nearly a century. » more

Recent News

September has highlighted the wide variety of issues that customs professionals must consider in the areas of classification, the Trusted Trader Programme, anti-dumping duties, the process for appealing decisions by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and broker licensing. Our update considers each of this issues and the impact for customs professionals.

This has been excerpted from a 30 September 2015 news item by hunt & hunt lawyers and is available in its entirety at:

The EU today finalised the ratification process of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement – the first major multilateral deal in years, expected to significantly simplify and modernise customs procedures around the world.

The WTO Director-General, Roberto Azevêdo received today from Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Trade, and Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg - currently holding the EU Presidency - the document confirming the EU's binding commitment to the deal agreed by the WTO Members.

The ceremony today followed the approval of the agreement by the European Parliament and the EU Member States respectively on 9 September and 1 October 2015. It took place in connection with the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting in Istanbul.

This has been excerpted from the 5 October 2015 edition of EIN News and is available in its entirety at:

Having to comply with international trade regulations, which can be complex and bewildering, may be daunting, but it puts your business in an advantageous position to grow, writes RAYMOND YEE.

STRONG economies, coupled with the shift in manufacturing of low-value goods from China to South-East Asia and the continuous reduction of trade barriers, have driven regional trade to a new peak, with intra-Asia trade now accounting for 25% of Asia’s US$6tril in annual exports, and the number is rising.

To capitalise on this, an outward-looking business would have to be able to negotiate the various trade regulations of Asian countries.

This has been excerpted from the 5 October 2015 edition of The Star and is available in its entirety at:

China’s top 20 container ports have handled more than 120 million TEUs this year until the end of August, but slowing export demand has seen little growth across most of the major ports including several year-over-year volume declines.

Shanghai throughput was flat compared to August last year as the world’s busiest container port handled 3.15 million TEUs, while the mainland’s second largest port saw 2.27 million boxes crossing its wharves, down 3 percent year-over-year, according to data from the Shanghai Shipping Exchange.

Shenzhen’s terminals are heavily exposed to foreign trade and any slowdown in demand from the major markets in the U.S. and Europe is felt here. Curiously, the South China port of Guangzhou, not far up the Pearl River from Shenzhen, saw its throughput climbing a healthy 5 percent in August. Nansha is counted as part of Guangzhou Port and it is a Maersk Line hub port, which is pushing up the throughput.

The Ningbo-Zhoushan port complex, China’s third largest, continues to grow its volumes and was up 3 percent in August to 1.8 million TEUs. In 2014, the port just south of Shanghai saw its throughput rising 12 percent over 2013.

Qingdao north of Shanghai handled 5 percent more containers than in August last year, and the fellow Bohai Rim port of Dalian was up 2 percent year-over-year. However, the August throughput in the region was dragged down by a 28 percent decline in containers handled by the blast-affected port of Tianjin.

The early August explosions brought the port to a standstill and although container operations during the month were not as badly affected as bulk and energy shipments, the SSE data reveals the impact of the slowdown of operations. Such are the numbers of boxes flowing through the port that in August, Tianjin handled 411,000 TEUs less than in July.

Interestingly, the inland port of Chongqing, high up the Yangtze River, saw its container throughput falling by 15 percent in August year-over-year to 74,000 TEUs. Chongqing is the export manufacturing hub of central China and the foreign trade slowdown is impacting volumes.

The fastest-growing China port in August was Yingkou in the Bohai Rim region not far from Dalian. While the port is a bulk and auto hub it is also the major import gateway for northern China and Mongolia, and in August container volumes reached 524,000 TEUs, a year-over-year increase of 29 percent.

This is from the 21 September 2015 edition of The Journal of Commerce and is available at:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced on Aug. 31 the long-anticipated delay to full implementation of the Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE, its new computer platform.

This short respite comes as a welcome relief to anyone following this issue. While Customs is close to being ready for full implementation, the headaches are even greater for external stakeholders. Companies should not let up on their implementation efforts, however, and should strive to meet the new ACE timeline.

Nov. 1, 2015: ACE is “allowed and encouraged” for electronic filing of entries and entry summaries for consumption, anti-dumping, informal, and defense and government entries.

Feb. 28, 2016: Useof ACE becomes mandatory in lieu of the old system (ACS), plus for all Food and Drug Administration, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) (Lacey Act) data.

July 2016: Afterthe final rules are published, ACE is required for Automated Manifest System, APHIS Core, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Centers for Disease Control, Defense Contract Management Agency, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, Drug Enforcement Agency, International Trade Administration Enforcement and Compliance, Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service, National Marine Fisheries Service and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau data. Fish & Wildlife will also come on board if the update of its regulations has been timely accomplished.

December 2016: The deadline for full implementation of the “Single Window via ACE” system remains, meaning all agencies and all users must by this time be able to report or process all required data for their imports and exports.

To be clear, the decision to delay full implementation occurred at the White House with the concurrence of the Border Interagency Executive Council, so this was not Customs simply backing off. And it was obvious that full implementation by November would have doomed it to fail. No matter how diligently everyone worked, there was not enough time to program, test, release and test some more and have the system work without massive downtime and delays once fully implemented.

While the deadline to file through ACE has been extended, companies would do well to keep the “pedal to the metal” and get their interfaces with the new system worked out now. While the main goal of ACE is to allow a single window through which all data needed by any government agency to release a shipment would be provided, there are significant downsides lurking.

Besides the obvious significant costs and massive operational changes this new system portends for even the most compliant business operation, companies should keep in mind the fact all the data is coming through one information portal now means any agency with jurisdiction over your goods will be able to check its electronic records to measure compliance with the relevant applicable laws and regulations. This means it will be considerably easier for agencies to initiate enforcement actions — civil and potentially criminal.

Customs brokers and freight forwarders are already sharing best practices and tips to generate reports among themselves. They are worried their importers and exporters will be able to identify their mistakes far more easily than ever before.

Have you set up an ACE account? How are you planning to interface with your service providers? What methods are you planning to use to review and verify the filings made on your behalf?

While no one is suggesting intentional wrongdoing on the part of anyone, if data is miskeyed at time of import or export filing, it will be far easier to identify. Many of the agencies signing on to ACE have never before received electronic data. It does not take a genius to figure out those agencies will access that electronic data and want to analyze and use it to their advantage.

Every agency participating in ACE has spent lots of staff time and agency funds to join the process. You know they want a return on their investment. Are you prepare to minimize your exposure to those agencies? If not, there is still time to get ready, but the window is getting ever smaller.

Susan Kohn Ross is an international trade attorney with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp in Los Angeles. Contact her at skr@msk.com.

This is from the 16 September 2015 edition of The Journal of Commerce and is available at: