President's Export Council Urges Establishment of Automated Single Shipment Information Window

On March 11, 2011, the President's Export Council (PEC) posted a letter to President Obama in which it urges "to fully establish an automated single shipment information window, that works with equal efficiency for both imports into and exports from the United States and is aligned with international data standards." The goal of this process automation is to "comply with essential National Security controls, but expedite the clearance of all other goods so the U.S. can compete in the competitive, global environment." 

The PEC predicts that a single system that allows traders to lodge information with a single body to fulfill all import or export related regulatory requirements would reduce a major barrier to U.S. exports and deliver immediate benefits. Based on the World Bank estimate that it takes an average of six days to move goods to or from the U.S., the PEC predicts that a one day improvement in time, by means of a single system, could increase U.S. trade by almost $29 billion and would help create thousands of new U.S. jobs.  

Some progress on the development and implementation of a single system has already been made. In 2001, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began a process to modernize their customs information systems, and created the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) as the single online access point that connects CBP, the trade community, and other government agencies. 

A key feature of the ACE project is the he International Trade Data Systems (ITDS) program. ITDS will allow traders to provide electronic international trade and transportation data to all Federal agencies that have import/export responsibilities. Ultimately, the goal is "a single window into the Federal government that will facilitate commerce and increase compliance with trade laws." 

Until recently, the ACE/ITDS program has focused primarily on U.S. import data. However, in 2010, ITDS Report to Congress recommends that export functionality be given priority: export agencies should work the ITDS Board of Directors to quickly identify ways to provide an export single window. According to the PEC, the absence of a single, automated system for export clearance increases costs for U.S. exporters, unnecessarily adding expense and time-in-transit to business transactions. 

Accordingly, the PEC recommends that Obama's Administration work with the various stakeholders, including the DHS/CBP, USTR, Treasury, ISDA/FAS, and DoC/ITA to enable the creation of a single window to streamline the export process.