On November 15, 2013, the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs and Border Protection (COAC) held their last public meeting of the year. Among the highlights:
- A Federal Register notice will be posted by the year-end soliciting importers to participate in a trusted trader pilot, which will unify CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the Importer Self-Assessment programs into one process. Phase I will be limited to nine volunteers and will be evaluated after six months on its effectiveness and cost savings.
- On the Role of the Broker initiative, participants addressed how to establish the factual identity of the importer of record and the means of proof, or “bona fides,” required to confirm that identity. This has become necessary to redress the growing prevalence of importer identity theft, shell corporations that don’t really exist, and importers that are totally offshore.
- Results from the Trade Efficiency Survey revealed that 77% of survey respondents experienced exams, however, these exams impacted less than 0.25% of entries. When exams did occur, the average cost was upwards of $1,800 and resulted in one to four days delay. CBP Acting Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski stated: “We all know we have to inspect, but we have to make sure that we’re doing the right inspections for the right reasons.”
- The COAC members also discussed the Export Survey results. The survey focused on exporters, freight forwarders/brokers, and carriers. The survey’s main finding was that the majority of exporters and related brokers are small-and medium-sized enterprise. 43% of respondents indicated that an outbound exam costs on average $300 to $2,100. Participants agreed that the goal is to lower the transaction cost: the lower the transaction costs, the more competitive U.S. exports will be globally.
The next COAC meeting is scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 20, 2014.