2014 NCBFAA Annual Report

 

 

President’s Report
By Geoffrey Powell

 

It is hard to believe that one year has already gone by since I assumed the Presidency of this great Association. I have to thank a number of the prior Presidents, among others, for their continued guidance and advice to ensure effective new leadership. Chairman of the Board Darrell Sekin initiated and formalized the gathering of former Presidents to counsel and provide advice to the current President. I have found this to be invaluable in my first year and it highlights the strong foundation of this organization created by the continuing involvement of dedicated volunteers.

 

But, most importantly, I sincerely thank our many members and benefactors whose financial support through their dues, event participation, sponsorships, and contributions of time makes it possible for the Association to serve our industry. By engaging in the activities needed to advance the interests of the transportation logistics industry, the Association’s work provides numerous benefits to the membership, many of which are described in the following pages.

 

My priorities for the future of the Association continue the hard work of my predecessors, the continued committed work of all the subcommittee chairs, vice-chairs and committee members, along with the support that we all receive from the Washington staff. As evidenced by the information in this Annual Report, together we are working arduously to achieve these key Association goals:

 

  • Accomplish a smooth transition to ACE on November 1, by encouraging our members to integrate ACE into their business processes immediately, while also working closely with CBP to identify any functional impediments that could hinder the successful interface with ACE.
  • Continue our role as a leading association working with the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC) to meet Executive Order 13659, requiring all 47 Partner Government Agencies (PGA) involved with international trade to interact with the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016.
  • Keep working, through all our committees, to ensure that the trade community appreciates and understands the relevancy of the services provided by customs brokers and OTIs.
  • Maintain our ongoing and very productive relationships with other major trade associations in Washington.
  • Develop strategic relationships, like with CBP, with many of the other government agencies that affect our business, such as Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Commerce (DOC), U.S. Census Bureau (Census), Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to name a few.
  • Demonstrate the NCBFAA’s critical role in the global market through involvement with the International Federation of Customs Brokers Association (IFCBA), North American Customs Broker Association (NACBA) and the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG).

 

The NCBFAA has been touting November 1 as a critical date not only for the customs brokerage industry but also for the entire international trade community given the indispensable service our industry provides. Through our involvement with the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (COAC), the International Trade Data System (ITDS) Board of Directors, Trade Ambassadors at the Trade Support Network (TSN) for CBP, Customs Electronic Systems Action Committee (CESAC), the NCBFAA has closely monitored the ongoing progress of the ACE initiative throughout its development by tracking software needs, regulatory issues, financial impacts, and the numerous other effects this project is having on our community.

 

Under the leadership of Mary Jo Muoio and Dan Meylor, the Customs Committee is working on a number of critical issues that impact our industry including, ACE migration, ITDS Single Window, Permitting, Broker Known Importer Program (BKIP), which you will read about in this report. The Customs Committee also has a number of subcommittees that have done an amazing job in other areas that impact all of us, such as Ken Bargteil in the ACE Strategy Task Group and Part 111 Rewrite Committee, Fred Klemashevich in the Automation Committee, and Tom Molloy with the ISF Subcommittee. All the chairs and individuals on these committees regularly engage government agencies on behalf of our industry and continue to direct policy for the industry as a whole.

 

Transportation Committee Chair Jan Fields, Vice-Chair Melzie Wilson, NVOCC Subcommittee Chair Rich Roche, Airfreight Subcommittee Chair Donna Mullins, and Export Compliance Chair Paulette Kolba, along with their committee members, continue to address key issues on our behalf with the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), BIS, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of State. Owing to the efforts of the Transportation Committee, the NCBFAA is a well-respected Association that these agencies turn to and rely on for expertise on many different issues involving the OTI trade community.

 

The Regulatory Agency Committee, chaired by Roger Clarke and co-chaired by Mike Lahar have had no small task this last year dealing, and initiating policy, with the other government agencies involved in international trade. With President Obama’s February 2014 Executive Order 13659 requiring all federal agencies involved in international trade to be on the International Trade Data System (ITDS), the Committee has been meeting regularly with these agencies and working closely with ITDS Board of Director members Sandra Scott and Stuart Schmidt to meet the December 2016 deadline.

 

The Association and I rely heavily on Customs Counsel Alan Klestadt, General and Transportation Counsel Ed Greenberg and Legislative Counsel Jon Kent for their informed advice on all the challenges confronting the NCBFAA and, by extension, the membership. Their work not only provides the Association with valuable legal and regulatory advice, but also assists us in working directly with the federal agencies, Congress and other Washington-based associations shaping the policy that impacts our industry.

 

The NCBFAA continues to aggressively seek out more members under the leadership of Bruce Goodwin, working directly with Chrystal Hunter in the Washington office, and continues to see growth in our membership, as companies understand the benefits of joining an Association that pro-actively addresses issues directly affecting their businesses. The NCBFAA Board of Directors is very engaged in the formal on-boarding of new members and believes the experience for new members is very positive.

 

Michelle Francis assumed the chair of the Affiliated Presidents Network (APN) this past year and continues to work closely with these very important local affiliates on behalf of the NCBFAA. In the coming year, this group will be crucial to the success of the ACE migration and it cannot be repeated too often that the NCBFAA very much appreciates all the efforts each of the local association presidents undertakes on behalf of all of our members.

 

Annual Conference Committee Chair Shane Garcia and Government Affairs Conference Chair Gerry Becnel have done outstanding jobs in support of these two events, which are the only opportunities for all our members to gather, network, learn, lobby, and meet face-to-face with senior leadership from all the government agencies. In light of the growing attendance, I believe our members really appreciate these Conferences.

 

The NCBFAA Educational Institute (NEI) continues to grow and add value to the benefit of every one of our members. Education is the key to success, something which Ken Bargteil and Federico (Kiko) Zuniga espouse every day in the programs and webinars they provide to the industry. In almost all the advertisements I see from all facets of the trade community regarding education offerings, prominently displayed is the NEI Logo and the phrase “CCS/CES Points available,” which visibly demonstrates the growing influence the NEI enjoys.

 

With ACE migration required for all members of our community by November 1, along with the implementation of the ITDS and the 47 PGAs, 2015 is going to be a very challenging year but I firmly believe that, with all the volunteers and our wonderful staff in Washington D.C., the NCBFAA is poised to assist our members make these implementations as seamless as possible. The NCBFAA is here to assist, guide, educate and be a voice on behalf of all our members and I look forward to my second year as President because it offers me the opportunity to meet not only the NCBFAA’s goals, but also those of our members.

 

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Executive Vice President’s Report
By barbara reilly, CAE

 

Continue to Aim High reflected the mantra for the NCBFAA Team in 2014, as we said goodbye to current Chairman of the Board, Darrell Sekin and welcomed our new President, Geoffrey Powell, who near the beginning of his term shared with us that he was particularly focused on "Member Benefits." That became obvious early on as he participated in numerous meetings and events with our various federal regulatory agency partners as well as by serving on several committees where he has fostered productive conversations among the Officers, Standing Committee Chairs, Affiliated President Network (APN) leadership, Headquarters operations and the membership at large through timely reports in the Monday Morning eBriefing.

 

The new APN Chair, Michelle Francis, has some large shoes to fill following the previous dedicated Chairman, now NCBFAA Treasurer, Scott Larson, who continues to serve as APN Officer Liaison. This specific committee not only continues to foster meaningful conversations between the numerous Affiliated Association Member Presidents on their day-to-day operations, but also shares information with their local memberships, and communicates with the NCBFAA Headquarters Team on various presentations, event coverage, profiles and projects pertaining to transition management in their local associations.

 

These Committee Members, along with the demographically diverse Officers and Board of Directors, are the conduits that solidify the framework and governance of the Association. And speaking of diversity, as the Association celebrated its 117th year, it was noted that for the first time in history, more women than men were serving in leadership positions, including on the Board of Directors, as Committee Chairs, or presiding over Affiliated Associations.

 

Under Membership Committee Chair Bruce Goodwin, NCBFAA Membership is at an all-time high. And by supporting programs such as the Emerging Leaders Mentor Program (ELMP) the organization continues to cultivate future committee members, chairs and potential leaders, who will continue to strive to aggressively communicate, educate and advocate on behalf of the industry.

 

More specifically, in terms of communication, the NCBFAA launched a new logo, brand mark and modernized the look of its website to enhance its positioning among trade associations and increase recognition among its constituencies. The improved website has enhanced navigation that facilitates user information searches as well as updating and maintenance of the site. One of the major enhancements we expect to effect in the coming year is the capacity for extracting analytical information about the use of our Website so that we can target the changes needed to make the site more effective in serving the membership.

 

Under the leadership of Chair Ken Bargteil, the NCBFAA Educational Institute (NEI) continues to offer a significant number of webinars and courses in a convenient online format covering timely industry topics beneficial for both participants and instructors. The NEI front line team, along with the accounting and communications departments, is currently engaged in rolling out a new, more robust Learning Management System (LMS) with significant assistance from IT expert, Steven Powell. This step represents a substantial expansion in the reach of the NEI, as the LMS’ flexibility and scalability provide the NEI with a tool that enhances its ability to offer timely and valuable educational opportunities to the logistics community. More extensive coverage of the important work of the NEI can be found in Chainman Bargteil’s report below.

 

When it came to advocating on behalf of the trade, the Government Affairs Conference Chair Jerry Becnel rallied the troops once again to successfully update and advise our Leaders on the Hill on significant trade issues, in one of the most successful conferences to date.

 

With the assistance of the NCBFAA Team that includes Communications Director Tom Mathers, Meeting Department Director Kim O'Beirne, Accounting Director Kimberly Murphy, Project Assistant to EVP Drenda Williams, Membership Development Coordinator Chrystal Hunter, Administrative Coordinator Stephanie Watson, Projects / Administrative Coordinator Larry Moore, NEI Executive Director Federico "Kiko" Zuniga, NEI Director Cecilia Ferrara, NEI Development & Compliance Coordinator David H. Tran, and NEI Administrative Assistant Claire Bui, our Association, as the Voice of the Industry, is able to continue bringing the findings of our dedicated Volunteers and our member consensus to the proverbial “table,” which ultimately reinforces the role of NCBFAA.

 

Based on this annual overview, let me reiterate what former President Jeff Coppersmith said many years ago when he reminded everyone of his initial tap on the shoulder, "Get Involved!" You might find it's the beginning of an informative dual learning curve: on the one hand, you will have greater appreciation for the breadth of the industry you are represent; on the other hand, you will gain a much deeper understanding of the workings of the NCBFAA.

 

There is so much to take in, but the choice to become involved is up to you. You can't wait for someone to tell you that you should get involved in this issue or on that committee - you need to seek out opportunities to develop yourself. Show up! Contribute new ideas! Get involved! Together we can all recognize the many opportunities that will benefit you and the NCBFAA.

 

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Treasurer’s Report

By Scott Larson

 

Since taking the oath of office as Treasurer, the first year has been interesting and challenging at the same time. My predecessor, William App, had things in great shape and continued to offer his assistance and knowledge throughout the transition, which has been a tremendous help and much appreciated.

 

Our FY-2014 has closed ahead of budget projections thanks to the efforts of all the Committee Chairs in keeping the expenses to a minimum and the office in keeping a tight line on expenses. A copy of the FY-2014 financial report can be found on the back page of this Annual Report.

 

We aggressively approached the FY-2015 budget; each of the Committee Chairs did a great job of providing their projections within the strict timeline. This gave us time to thoroughly review each line item and make a comparative analysis from previous years. We have an optimistic outlook on membership and the ability to continue the growth of the NCBFAA Educational Institute (NEI). The cost to run the organization as well as to provide our membership with those services and values they’ve come to expect, continues to increase.

 

Great challenges lie ahead, some of which may change the very way we conduct our businesses. We will continue to monitor and address those challenges for our membership while providing the Committees with the financial support necessary. FY-2015 will be challenging in many different aspects; we will hold the line on expenditures to the best of our ability while providing unmatched professionalism to our members.

 

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Customs Committee Report
By Mary Jo Muoio, LCB, CCS

 

With no rest for the weary, the Customs Committee’s full agenda of work continued uninterrupted from 2013 into 2014. We hit the ground running with the first in-person meeting on January 25 and continued throughout the year with monthly full committee conference calls, bi-weekly and monthly subcommittee calls (Automation, Importer Security Filing, Centers of Excellence & Expertise, and Role of the Broker), quarterly face-to-face meetings, several committee strategic meetings, many meetings with CBP, Congressional briefings, CBP webinars, conference presentations, countless phone calls, and enough email to make your head spin!

 

All of the work done by the Customs Committee, counsel and countless volunteer members focuses on what is in the best interest of our members and our industry; the past year saw those efforts key on several crucial issues:

 

Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)

If 2013 was the “year of getting serious about ACE,” then 2014 was the year of the “Great Race to ACE.” The Customs Committee has kept its eye on what it will take to reach the finish line successfully. CBP, Partner Government Agencies (PGAs), software developers, and brokers all have a shared responsibility in the success of ACE. In 2014 the Customs Committee ACE Taskforce reconvened to continue their work. This Taskforce focuses on the strategic issues of ACE development including prioritization of development, need for robust training of CBP users, need for Business Rules documents (user guides) published before brokers are expected to use ACE functionality, well thought out integration of the PGAs, and post-2016 continuation planning.

 

Critical to ACE efficiency is the integration of the PGAs into the International Trade Data System (ITDS), essentially an automated one-stop shop for regulatory filings. President Geoffrey Powell represents the NCBFAA at outreach meetings of the BIEC, which is tasked with managing this integration process. President Powell supports the interests of the NCBFAA membership at regular BIEC meetings that he prepares for by speaking with representatives from the Customs Committee and NCBFAA representatives to the TSN ITDS subcommittee.

 

Although the Customs Committee Automation Subcommittee meets regularly with CBP to iron out operational issues related to ACE functionality, certain functionality challenges still persist for brokers. These include the House Bill Release issue, gap in automation with container freight stations (CFS) and similar locations as well as full ebond messaging. We encourage CBP to accelerate ACE release across the ports of entry and to train CBP users so that brokers can switch from ACS to ACE with minimal additional disruption to their businesses.

 

International Trade Data System (ITDS)

Last March only two of 47 PGAs were testing in ITDS. One member active in the EPA pilot reported on the challenges they encountered with this pilot. Aggressively testing they found the process to be tedious, the programming difficult, and the process very time-consuming. Another member active in the USDA/FSIS pilot reported on the challenges they encountered due to misalignment between entry construction and FSIS controls, which are not tagged to the HTS or entry line. This causes significant additional work for the broker to compore FSIS reporting information to the entry. It is the proverbial square peg in a round hole.

 

At the September 17 Committee meeting, CBP noted that PGA integration was going very slowly. While a methodical approach may be a good thing, the NCBFAA is concerned that established CBP and Presidential Executive Order deadlines will put the brokerage community under tremendous stress. CBP Senior Trade Advisor Maria Luisa Boyce stated that CBP’s deadlines were “well thought out” and “CBP had put its name and reputation on it.” Acknowledging CBP’s good intentions, the NCBFAA Leadership and Customs Committee remain concerned that requiring the use of ACE and ITDS puts substantial pressure on the brokerage community given the dwindling time left to prepare.

 

In meetings with CBP, the Customs Committee repeatedly notes that the change from ACS to ACE and the evolving process for communicating with 47 other agencies makes this a very expensive time to be a customs broker. With the Government proclaiming efficiencies and cost savings to be found with ACE and ITDS, it is the Customs Committee’s objective to mitigate the costs and burdens transferred to the customs broker and to ensure that our customers have accurate expectations of what this mandated change requires.

 

Broker Regulations

CBP has drafted revised broker regulations, which should be published for comment shortly. These proposals reflect significant input from the NCBFAA, especially regarding continuing education, relations with unlicensed individuals, and employee reporting, among other things. The Customs Committee Broker Exam working group had great success working with CBP on changes to the exam administration, content, grading and contesting processes. As more exams are administered with these revisions, the Group’s work will continue by studying the impact of these changes in order to fine-tune the results, if necessary. The objective of this activity is to ensure that the broker exam tests the applicant’s ability to:

 

  • Know the regulations.
  • Perform the customs business functions of a customs broker.
  • Provide the applicant with a predictable experience so they can properly prepare.

 

Permitting

After broad consultation with the membership, the NCBFAA presented proposed regulatory change to CBP regarding permitting regulations. NCBFAA aggressively ‘socialized’ this discussion within the membership and the larger brokerage community over the last several years. It was important for our members to understand the impact that ACE and full utilization of RLF could have on the makeup of brokerage companies. The NCBFAA proposed a supervision ratio of 1 licensed broker to 12 employees engaged in the conduct of customs business because it reflects a consensus among our members that active involvement of a licensed individual is critical to the mandate of responsible supervision and control. It also reflects our changing work processes where remote management is common and supervision can be performed by a licensed individual in one location for employees in various other locations. It was important to the NCBFAA that broker regulations for permitting preserve the engagement of a licensed broker and remain adaptable to changing business processes. It was also important to the NCBFAA that CBP understand how critical the engagement of a licensed broker was to ensuring accurate import declarations on which CBP can rely.

 

Customs Business

While always on the radar of the Customs Committee, the definition of customs business was actively discussed by the Committee through the year. Coming out of the discussion on permitting, the Committee looked at the current definition and interpretations of customs business. As the proposed permitting regulations call for the supervision of employees engaged in the conduct of customs business, defining that term is essential to counting those employees. For now the regulatory definition and CBP interpretations persist. However, the Committee has challenged CBP’s enforcement of the regulations and called for action against those engaged in, but not licensed to conduct, customs business - in and out of the Customs territory of the US.

 

Broker-Known Importer Program [BKIP]

This past year, the Broker-Known Importer Program went from concept to ready-to-launch status. This achievement demonstrates that our community plays an integral role bringing value to our clients and to CBP. Through this program, participating brokers will conduct interviews with their customers and send an indicator as part of the entry transmission that this importer is known to the broker and is aware of their compliance obligations as an importer. In turn, CBP will take this flag in as part of their risk segmentation criteria. CBP benefits by having information about an importer that they otherwise would not know; importers benefit by an increased awareness of their compliance obligations and by having a positive indicator in their CBP risk profile; brokers benefit by having engagement with their clients, which should result in more accurate customs declarations and as a unique contributor to their positive risk profile within CBP.

 

Importer Security Filing (ISF)

The Customs Committee ISF Subcommittee comprised of NCBFAA Regular and Affiliate Member volunteers, organized conference panel and webinar discussions on the enforcement policies and issuance of liquidated damage claims associated with ISF for the trade community. Reaching hundreds of logistics firms, these discussions included CBP representatives along with subject matter experts from the industry.

 

In addition, the Subcommittee worked directly with CBP to clarify information capture in an effort to facilitate the identification of transactions involving liquidated damage claims. As a result of these efforts the receipt of claims without identifying information has continued to diminish.

 

Large Broker & Forwarder Subcommittee

The Large Broker & Forwarder Sub-Committee (LB&F) focuses on the impact of CBP, FMC and other government agency directives, actions and initiatives on large member corporations. As a subcommittee of the Customs Committee, the LB&F is charged with the identification of issues, the sharing of member perspectives and proposed solutions, and then elevating the information with comments to the Customs Committee.

 

In 2014, the LB&F convened via bi-monthly conference calls. The main topics discussed were:

 

  • 19 CFR part 111 Rewrite and associated topics, notably a specific definition of “Customs business” and the proposed National Permit recommendations.
  • The rollout and broader implementation of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise.
  • ACE development, including programming.
  • The PGA Pilot.
  • Broker employee information in the ACE portal.
  • The Broker Pre-Certification Program for ISA.
  • The Broker Known Importer program.

 

Members of the LB&F also met in face-to-face meetings to discuss the 19 CFR Part 111 Rewrite with Customs Committee representatives and CBP officials.

 

Issues escalated to the Customs Committee by the LB&F include:

 

  • Notifications and penalties from CBP on Importer Security Filing deficiencies.
  • ACE broker employee reporting, issues with personal broker employee information being available on the ACE portal.
  • Questions for CBP regarding PGA messaging and the release process for PGA entries
  • Proposed revisions to CBP Form 5106 changes and the potential impact on the trade community.
  • Post importation claims for preferential tariff treatment.

 

The LB&F Committee will meet via conference call throughout 2015, and will evaluate opportunities for in person meetings at NCBFAA Conferences.

 

Centers of Excellence and Expertise

The Customs Committee CEE Subcommittee has been very engaged with CBP on the broker’s role in this major component in CBP’s Trade Transformation. The subcommittee is working very hard to help develop processes for the broker to work with the CEEs and on how the CEEs and brokers will communicate on an ongoing premise.

 

The Customs Committee tackled many day-to-day issues affecting our members. These include delays in PMS (Periodic Monthly Statement) authorizations, coordination, ebonds, confidentiality, recordkeeping, entry corrections due to missing invoices, entry corrections related to FTA claims, mail delivery of bond insufficiency notices, employee reporting, navigating the new CBP website, and Broker ISA-Precertification pilot, Trusted Trader pilot, disaster recovery, simplified summary concept, CBP financial reform initiatives, Customs APPs, broker visits, proposed changes to first sale, and revised Customs Form 5106, among other things.

 

The NCBFAA membership has benefited from the service of countless volunteer members who have served on this and other committees and off-spring subcommittees, working groups, task forces and the like. Currently the Area Representatives to the Customs Committee are:

 

  • Area 1 Joe Trulik, FedEx Trade Networks Transport & Brokerage, Romulus, MI
  • Area 2 Mary Jo Muoio, OHL dba Barthco, Philadelphia, PA
  • Area 3 Cynthia D. Allen, DHL Global Forwarding, West Columbia, SC
  • Area 4 Myra Reynolds, John S. James Co., Savannah, GA
  • Area 5 Scott Larson, MOL Logistics (USA) Inc., Elk Grove Village, IL
  • Area 6 Gary Ryan, Airport Brokers Corporation, Seattle, WA
  • Area 7 David Meyer, DJS International Services, Inc., Colleyville, TX
  • Area 8 A E Neto Roser, Roser & Cowen Logistical Customs Services Ltd, Brownsville, TX
  • Area 9 Daniel Meylor, Carmichael International Service, Los Angeles, CA

 

The roster of the Customs Committee goes way beyond the Area Representatives as the Committee is supported by many wise advisors including NCBFAA officers, NCBFAA past presidents and past committee chairs and co-chairs We are expertly represented and counseled by Customs Committee Counsel Alan Klestadt (who is not just a lawyer, but a licensed customs broker as well) and NCBFAA Legislative Representative Jon Kent. The value of their tireless, earnest, and effective representation of our interests cannot be overstated.

 

The Customs Committee addresses issues as varied as our businesses. Subcommittees or working groups have been established for the more enduring ones; these groups come and go as issues warrant and participation is open to any NCBFAA Regular Member. Current groups focus on the Importer Security Filing chaired by Tom Malloy; Remote Location Filing chaired by John Peterson; Broker Regulations and Role of the Broker and ACE Taskforce chaired by Ken Bargteil; Broker Management chaired by Cindy Allen; Trade Interruption and Resumption Planning chaired by Mary Ann Comstock; Centers of Excellence and Expertise chaired by Barb Adamson; Automation Chaired by Fred Klemeshevich; eBond chaired by Matt Brauner; ITDS co-chaired by Sandra Scott and Stuart Schmidt; Broker Exam working group chaired by Angie Quintanilla; and Anti-dumping (AD) & Countervailing (CV) Duties chaired by Myra Reynolds.

 

Myra Reynolds, Michelle Maslow-Hauser, and Gary Ryan always volunteer to take minutes of committee meetings and do an excellent job. This is a significant volunteer contribution which hampers their ability to participate in meetings. We do not want any areas to be under-represented with the Area Representatives distracted by note-taking; during 2015 an NCBFAA staff member will attend Customs Committee meetings to take and transcribe notes. This will also afford staff a wonderful opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of our business.

 

The Customs Committee meets monthly on teleconferences organized by Committee Vice-Chair Dan Meylor as well as in person several times a year and also holds full-day meetings with CBP several times a year. Many, many single-subject meetings are held throughout the year both as internal meetings and with CBP, as issues warrant. The subcommittees meet on individual schedules.

 

The Customs Committee and supporting groups attempt to focus our resources on issues with the greatest impact on the NCBFAA membership. Local issues are addressed by the Area or APN Representative from that locale. The Customs Committee monitors local issues to watch for trends or situations that should be addressed nationally. While never making the official Committee agenda there are countless questions answered and issues resolved on a weekly basis. Dan Meylor tirelessly investigates, responds and connects the proper parties daily. He also ensures that the tremendous planning and communication demands of the Committee are handled efficiently and consistently. Amy Magnus, wearing her ACE Ambassador crown, responds to members’ frequent questions and vents regarding ACE. She then gets lessons learned published in the NCBFAA Monday Morning eBriefing to inform the entire membership.

 

The Customs Committee works closely with other NCBFAA committees and groups including the Regulatory Affairs Committee, Drawback Committee, Carriers Best Practices Committee, Large Broker Forwarder Committee, Affiliated Presidents Network, CESAC (Customs Electronic Systems Action Council) and the Transportation Committee as well as coordinate with external groups including the TSN (Trade Support Network), COAC (Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and other associations.

 

The Customs Committee continued the tradition of coordinating our meeting agendas with the Transportation Committee to foster intercommunication between the committees. This is becoming increasingly important as CBP turns their eye to export compliance and investigates forwarder regulation. The NCBFAA along with the Transportation and Customs Committees are monitoring these developments and ensuring that the Government considers our valuable input.

 

As someone who has been active in the NCBFAA for almost 30 years I have a little insight about the caliber of talent in our Association. It runs deep and wide. It also runs strong—the contributions made by countless very smart and talented members on behalf of other members, our Association, our country, and our industry is staggering. We all benefit from these immeasurable contributions.

 

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NCBFAA Drawback Committee
By Michael V. Cerny
      

In 2014, the Drawback Committee continued its work on drawback modernization. Many members of our Committee are engaged with CBP through the Trade Support Network and other organizations regarding the development of ACE. For filers of consumption entries, the transition to ACE is imminent. By contrast, for drawback filers, there is nothing in ACE right now to which drawback filers can transition and any future process is still being developed. However, drawback is scheduled by CBP to be completed and deployed in ACE in late 2016 and we are working now with CBP to shape how this future process will look, and to find ways to enhance functionality to the benefit of our members, the trade, and CBP. We anticipate working on the ACE development of a completely electronic drawback summary that will be transmitted via ABI in ACE, possibly with the use of document imaging for submission of backup documentation.

 

We have been working on two important issues, one that has been having a current impact on drawback, and another that promises to in the future. First, CBP has once again instituted a post entry compliance measurement program in an attempt to respond to the criticisms posed by the General Accounting Office about how CBP monitors drawback filings and accounts for drawback paid out. The number of claims reviewed is small, only 400 nationwide each year. However, our experience has been that the 100 percent review done post entry can result in requests for significant documentation, some of which is quite old. We have worked closely with CBP to modify the parameters of requests, and CBP has made changes to accommodate claimants and filer. However, the jury is still out on this program, and we will continue to work with our members and CBP to fine tune the program or find an alternative.

 

Second, we have been working with CBP on their plans to eventually transition drawback into the new Centers of Excellence (CEE). Our membership believed that moving the current drawback process into a CEE would be counterproductive, at least until drawback becomes completely electronic. We provided a position paper to CBP and the current CBP thinking is now that drawback will not be included in the CEE until it becomes completely automated in ACE. We appreciate CBP listening to the voices of our Committee members.

 

Third, we are continuing to monitor the activities in Congress to reform the drawback process through legislation. In the new Congress, we are working in conjunction with other organizations, and Senate Finance and House Ways & Means staff, on language to be included in the larger Customs Reauthorization bill that would simplify drawback. As always, we are very thankful to NCBFAA’s Legislative Counsel, Jon Kent, for his hard work in ensuring that our voices are heard on Capitol Hill. We will continue to fight for statutory language that is acceptable and beneficial for our membership.

 

Members of our Committee have been working with the NEI in developing the new Certified Drawback Specialist Program. This program promises to provide a specific designation for those brokers specializing in drawback. We hope to have the program up and running by the end of 2015. The Committee wishes to thank NEI Chairman Ken Bargteil for working with us to develop this important program as well as Anne-Marie Bush, who is leading this effort on behalf of our Committee.

 

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Bylaws Committee Report
By Lee Hardeman

 

The Bylaws Committee was tasked this year by former President Darrell Sekin to make a recommendation to prohibit more than one person from any single firm from serving as a voting member on the Nominating Committee. After much discussion, the Committee decided that this prohibition should apply to all principal standing committees (Customs, Budget & Finance, Nominating, and Transportation). The Committee prepared wording for the Board of Directors that would just amend the Bylaws for the Nominating Committee as well as wording to apply the change to all four principal standing committees. After consideration of both measures, the Board of Directors adopted the change for all principal standing committees. On April 7, the membership approved this change to the Bylaws during the Annual Meeting at the 2014 Annual Conference in Summerlin, NV.

 

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Legislative Representative’s Report
By Jon Kent
 

It’s commonly understood that the 113th Congress in 2014 failed to meet even the most limited expectations. This was particularly true in the international trade realm, where Congress failed to advance the customs reauthorization, GSP, miscellaneous duty suspensions, or authority to negotiate trade agreements. While a few bright spots occurred, the November elections generated a consensus that Congress needs to make 2015 a year for demonstrating that it can resume its role in our national governance.

 

First, addressing the bright spots, Congress passed legislation that finally addressed the inequities of the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), where funds are routinely diverted away from port dredging and into the general fund of the U.S. Treasury. Substantial credit belongs to California and Louisiana members of Congress who negotiated a phase-out of this diversion. Their work resulted in a process for gradually increasing funds dedicated to port operations until 100 percent will be available in 2024. The year-end Omnibus Appropriations Bill came close to meeting the target funding level for 2015.

 

Another bright spot was the 2014 NCBFAA Government Affairs Conference, where our members renewed their annual lobbying campaign with their local Congressional representatives. Customs brokers and forwarders carried not only the concerns of the national association, but were afforded the opportunity to address local issues and demonstrate the lobbying power of their regional associations. A highlight this year was our work with the chairs of the Congressional Port Caucus, who convened a special meeting for NCBFAA spokespeople to outline the issues of greatest concern to our community.

 

The meeting was also addressed by its Co-Chair, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and key staff of his and fellow Co-Chair, Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA). During the first day of the GAC, attendees were also addressed by the top trade staffers for the House and Senate, new FMC Commissioner William P. Doyle, CBP’s Deputy Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan, and federal agency experts on import and export policy. Special credit for the conference needs to be accorded the GAC Committee Chair, Jerry Becnel, J.W. Allen Co., Kenner, Louisiana, who organized program development, worked with NCBFAA Staff on logistics, and made sure that every detail was attended to. And, another kudo belongs to NCBFAA Staff for their usual fine work in organizing the multitude of moving parts that comprise a successful GAC.

 

So, what can we expect from 2015? There is high optimism for the conclusion of multilateral trade talks in the Pacific Region and for meaningful progress in the negotiations with Europe. Both the President and the Republican Majority in Congress want to enable this with the passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which will strengthen our hand at the negotiating table and provide a streamlined process for eventual Congressional consideration of the completed trade pact. Nonetheless, battle lines are being drawn within the Congress by those seeking stronger labor, environmental and currency manipulation enforcement provisions. Much of the trade legislation left over from the 113th Congress will likely follow in the path of TPA, succeeding if it succeeds. NCBFAA will continue to champion these and other initiatives, which include reducing port congestion, evolving a “freight policy” that facilitates inland transportation, and ensuring that ACE and ITDS Single Window are completed to standard by the end of next year.

 

As always, NCBFAA is grateful for your loyal support of our efforts.

 

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NCBFAA PAC Annual Report
By Jon Kent

 

Despite a lackluster year in the United States Congress, customs brokers and forwarders continue to show their confidence in the NCBFAA and its legislative responsibilities. The NCBFAA PAC seeks to support candidates for Congress who are attentive to our international trade objectives. The Association places particular emphasis on logistics-related matters, such as revisions to the customs statutes, ocean and air transportation legislation, and trade bills that enhance the ability of our clients to conduct profitable import and export operations. These are therefore the goals of the PAC.

 

Through the generosity of our PAC donors and the hard work of the PAC Committee, the NCBFAA PAC raised $16,565 in donations in 2014. This enabled us to make political contributions in the amount of $10,500. Because of the lack of legislative activity in our areas of emphasis, the PAC Board of Governors was very selective in the donation of these funds, preferring to conserve our resources for a more active time. Still, there were a number of candidates who have earned our support over several years or who can be instrumental in addressing our 2015 objectives.

 

NCBFAA PAC is bi-partisan and donates to both House and Senate races. In 2014, we donated campaign contributions to five Republicans and six Democrats, which included six members of the Senate and five members of the House. Senate contributions included: Charles Grassley (R-IA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN). House contributions included: Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Charles Boustany (R-LA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and Janice Hahn (D-CA).

 

To accomplish this, NCBFAA is grateful for the continued support and loyalty of Association volunteers who devote substantial time at the Annual Meeting and Government Affairs Conference in raising funds for the PAC. The #1 catalyst for this work is the committee chair, Kathy Murray, who has consistently provided the energy and organizational ability to make NCBFAA PAC successful year after year. One of her great accomplishments has been the recruitment of a cadre of inspired and relentless fundraisers – who include Michelle Francis, Julie Moore, Leah Ellis, Lisa Gingerich, Kathy Carlson, Mary Peglow and Maurine Cecil.

 

Many thanks to you all.

 

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Transportation Committee Annual Report

By Janet Fields and Melzana Wilson

 

As always we’ve had a busy year representing our NCBFAA membership with issues surrounding the movement of cargo both international and domestic. Our committee covers all facets of facilitating cargo – if it’s international cargo and it moves – we cover it.

 

Of particular note, the Association’s effort to head off a number of proposed changes to the regulations of the FMC was successful. During the year, as a result of comments filed by the NCBFAA and a large number of members, the FMC agreed to withdraw most of the regulations that had been proposed in an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in its Docket No. 13-05, Ocean Transportation Intermediary Licensing and Financial Responsibility Requirements. Among other things, this would have required all OTIs to reapply for licenses every two years and pay a fee for doing so, increased bond limits, imposed a complicated claim processing system and established controls on advertising. Although the FMC dropped many of the more objectionable proposals, it nonetheless issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in that same docket in October 2014 that still contained a number of burdensome proposals. Again, the NCBFAA filed comments in response and the Commission will be issuing its decision concerning those proposals later this year.

 

Similarly, during 2014 the Association filed comments with the BIS regarding that agency’s proposal to let USPPIs delegate licensing responsibility to foreign parties.

 

The Association has continued to press the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for its interpretation of the scope of the exemption from the MAP-21 licensing/bonding requirements that the NCBFAA was able to obtain for customs brokers and OTIs. While the Association continues to believe that the exemption is sufficiently broad to encompass all inland activities undertaken by its members that relate to the movement of international cargo, the FMCSA has not yet opined on this even though the request for that opinion has now been pending for almost 18 months. We will continue to follow up on this important point.

 

Our committee published and updated four documents for use as valuable resources on exports and domestic transportation and we plan to introduce a forwarder specific “Red Flag” tool at the annual conference.

 

  • USPPI Information Sheet
  • Shipper’s Letter of Instructions, with accompanying regulations
  • Collect Notification of Release (sample)
  • Door Delivery Notification of Release (sample)

 

Our Logistics Committee has collected and reviewed software available for vetting of domestic truckers and hopes to provide our membership with a listing of available options at the 2015 Annual Conference.

 

Export Compliance Chair Paulette Kolba accepted the honor of representing our committee, our Association and our country in Prague with the US State Department. She met with the licensing authorities from the EU countries, representatives of U.S. Government agencies, and private sector compliance experts discussing government/private sector cooperation and compliance programs.

 

Our Export Compliance Committee holds monthly conference calls with the export compliance experts from 30 freight forwarders across the US to discuss and address topics ranging from Anti-Boycott, CBP Export Penalties, Russia and Cuba sanctions, Exports in ACE, Export Control Reform, Routed Export Transactions, vehicle exports, the challenges in incorporating compliance requirements into our operations processes, and everything in between. The committee addresses any “out of the ordinary” issues directly with the government agencies and has had success with government agencies realigning some practices.

 

Individual members of the Transportation and compliance committee are also actively engaged with CESAC to stay abreast of the automated pre-departure manifest requirements, the Trade Support Network (TSN) to stay abreast of other ITDS requirements for export, the COAC export mapping working group and the BIS Regulations and Procedures Technical Advisory Committee (RPTAC) where we have made verbal and written statements regarding Routed Export Transactions and Anti-Boycott issues. This committee is committed to representing freight forwarder interests in the export compliance arena.

 

Donna Mullins heads our Air Freight Committee and traveled to Washington several times last year to meet with the Transportation Security Administration to discuss air freight issues. We filed comments requesting a study of the competitive balance of Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) pilot requirements and urged further consideration for Trusted Shipper testing.

 

Our NVOCC Chair, Rich Roche and others focused on port congestion issues, attending the various FMC Forums, presented testimony and filed comments regarding the problems being created by the carrier and port practices. We have met frequently with the FMC to discuss the industry challenges for OTIs and our clients.

 

A great example of our influence was demonstrated late last year when our members received notices from various steamship lines of an immediate implementation of port congestion surcharges. Our Transportation Counsel, Ed Greenberg, reached out to the FMC as to the legitimacy of such action, as they were published without sufficient notice, and often ambiguous. Due to the Association’s effort, the FMC agreed and were ultimately required that all of these surcharges be delayed. The result of this was that none of the carriers ended up actually imposing any of these congestion surcharges.

 

We trust you can readily see the value of our committee and recognize the hard work of our committee chairman and members. We welcome members to join us in the future.

 

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NCBFAA Regulatory Agencies Committee Annual Report
By Roger Clarke


 

The past year has been very challenging for the Regulatory Agencies Committee (RAC) with implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), ITDS/PGA integration into ACE, Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) proposals and FSIS pilots. The RAC mostly addressed the various NPRMs relating to the FDA FSMA and CPSC regulations. The RAC prepared three formal NCBFAA comment documents which were filed with various agencies.

 

In responding to the FDA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food, the RAC supported an adaptable, performance-based approach rule to sanitary transportation of food products that included clear and precise definitions placing responsibility on the appropriate parties in the supply chain. To avoid confusion, the RAC further insisted that the definition of “Shipper” must reflect that person with knowledge and control of the food product moving through the international supply chain. This movement, in the RAC’s view, may not be linear; instead it is subject to highly complex dynamics affecting various parties from the manufacturer to the consumer. The word “Shipper” has various meanings under different circumstances, making it especially important that the final rule is very clear in identifying the responsible party. The RAC further pointed out that although the customs broker is heavily involved in the logistical aspects of international trade movements, the customs broker does not have the requisite knowledge to identify the sanitary transportation requirements, cleaning procedures or temperature conditions to prevent adulteration.

 

Another important issue for us this year was related to the FDA’s Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) proposed rule, specifically identifying the FSVP importer responsible for the foreign supplier verification. In our comments on the proposal, we strongly urged that the FSVP importer should be the U.S. person with a direct financial interest in the food importation and with the knowledge and control to conduct meaningful supplier verifications. Because under FSVP the “FDA Importer” may or may not be the importer of record, the FDA must provide clear guidance on how the process works for identifying the FSVP importer. The RAC suggested that if there is no U.S. owner or knowledgeable consignee at the time of entry the FDA should explicitly require the foreign suppliers and the foreign importers of record to affirmatively contract with a U.S. person or entity to be their agent responsible for supplier verification.

 

Late in the year, the RAC weighed in on the CPSC Electronic Certificate of Compliance proposals noting the need for a clear definition of “Importer” as the responsible party to certify that a product is safe. The RAC is concerned that the proposals, by defining the importer as “the importer-of-record” might invest that responsibility in a customs broker who may be well qualified to electronically transmit certification data but is certainly in no position to certify a product’s safety. Instead, the RAC suggested that CPSC follow the lead of FDA by making it clear that the "importer" is a person with a direct financial interest in the product. The RAC also expressed serious concern over CPSC’s ability to handle the annual volume of product certifications and/or data fields this proposal would generate. In closing its comments, the RAC recommended the Commission consider: flexibility; complexity of the supply chain; time frames for filing data; limit the number of data fields; and flag by HTS number.

 

Although the RAC began the year by continuing its schedule of monthly one-hour conference call, it was soon discovered that, with the workload of regulatory issues facing the industry, one-hour was not enough and the calls increased to 1½ to 2 hours. We were fortunate to have both representatives from the FDA Prior Notice Center and Division of Import Operations (DIO) attending our monthly calls. The RAC Subcommittees also have made contact with Customs and Border Protection Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (CBP-A) and the Federal Communications Commission. The RAC had an open phone discussion with a CBP-A representative.

 

Due to regulatory issues and considerations, the FDA top management decided to use the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (COAC) as its primary conduit to the trade community. A newly formed COAC subcommittee, with the NCBFAA well represented, conducted phone meetings to determine issues with FDA procedures and to develop 40 proposals for presentation to the full COAC. Out of the subcommittee proposals 11 FDA enhancements were presented to FDA. These proposals paralleled many of the RAC issues presented to FDA during our conference calls and have now been elevated to top levels of FDA management.

 

In connection with this realignment, the Division of Import Operations (DIO) informed the RAC that COAC issues would take top priority. However, DIO advised us that our past relationship would continue but that our issues, while still on the table, would take a back seat to any issues presented by COAC. COAC will continue to address FDA policy issues while the RAC will direct our efforts towards operational procedures.

 

In October the RAC opened a discussion with FDA on the proposed Verified Qualified Importer Program (VQIP). This program is in development pending publication of the final importer verification regulations and development of standards for third party verifiers. The VQIP program may piggyback on CBP programs like C-TPAT, Importer Self-Assessment and Trusted Trader, and though not required for VQIP, these programs could also be applied to some of the VQIP requirements. FDA is also proposing some form of fee structure for the VQIP program.

 

The RAC continued to pursue FDA Filer Review Guidelines and Addendum. FDA Division of Import Operations and Policy Director, Capt. Domenic Venezianio, has promised us that the draft document would be furnished to the RAC for review in the near future. This document will be extremely important as we move into ACE. We need to have FDA expectations for filers and a set of standards codified in a written document. A national standard and a due process procedure will be needed for filer review uniformity.

 

The committee continued our discussion on the renewal process for the 2014 facility registration. We also continued the discussion and issues related to the designation of a U.S. Agent in the registration process.

 

Another project of great interest to the RAC is the Centralized Entry Review Pilot. The committee reviewed and opened dialog with FDA regarding major deficiencies and data omissions uncovered during the pilot. The FDA found that broker/filers submitted an incorrect product code for 40 percent of entries filed in both pilot and non-pilot ports. They also found that insufficient electronic information was available to make an electronic admissibility decision in 70 percent of the non-pilot and 17 percent of the pilot entries. FDA also found low usage by filers of the FDA ITACS system. The committee expressed the NCBFAA’s desire to work with FDA to help increase the level of data quality through education, training, and develop more useful tools for filers and importers to use.

 

RAC members have volunteered for many of the ITDS/PGA/CBP data workgroups to develop ACE/PGA programming and business rules. It is hoped pilot programs will be conducted prior to the November 1, 2015, entry release implementation to give both sides ample time to develop a workable process. From initial discussions PGAs will be looking for more accurate data in the ACE processing environment and an increase in mandatory data elements to complete entry processing.

 

The RAC will continue to develop communications with the major PGAs who have hold authorization. We hope to both educate and address systemic ACE interface issues as they arise. As we move into ACE, the RAC needs membership support by notifying us of PGA/ACE issues as they arise. The RAC will continue asking various agencies to clarify what their expectations are for data requirements and assumed additional filer responsibilities. We will address the various business rules and proposals as they are published.

 

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NEI Annual Report
By Kenneth Bargteil


 

Three years into its current five-year plan the NCBFAA Educational Institute has made impressive progress. Areas of particular note would be I.T., marketing and accreditation. In the area of information technology the NEI acquired and deployed its own learning management system (LMS), LOGISTICS•EI; engineered and hosted by Meridian Knowledge Solutions LLC. To protect the integrity of our Educational Institute a soft launch was elected and scheduled for the 2015 incoming CCS class. Final migration is planned for the second quarter of 2015. Once fully implemented the NEI LMS will be user driven and offer a comfortable and highly accessible learning environment encompassing all of the NEI educational resources.

 

Also remarkable, in the area of marketing, is the growth of our Quarterly Program. This resource for NCBFAA membership and the entire trade fraternity provides the most comprehensive calendar of educational events available. A corollary to the growth of the NEI Quarterly Program is the nearly ubiquitous presence of our NEI logo and continuing education awards program in industry promotion of webinars, seminars and conferences. 2014 saw an unprecedented advance in market penetration of the NEI brand. … but that should not leave an impression that the NEI is all about revenue. 2014 also saw the NEI make more free of charge educational opportunities available to our community than ever before. The NEI is all about education and is proud to serve that core and vital function for the NCBFAA and the entire trade population.

 

At the outset of the current five-year plan it was clear that we had embarked on an extremely challenging mission. Central to our enterprise is the accreditation of NEI as an institution of higher education built on a distance learning model. The disciplines of Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management are becoming more sophisticated, changes in these fields are coming more quickly and the demand for well trained, highly skilled and expert professional is growing at an increasing pace. These conditions all argue for the need of an institutional leader for developing the abilities of individuals seeking employment or advancement in the career paths we are attempting to foster. That is the need the NEI aspires to satisfy. In 2014 we achieved a milestone in that path as the NEI became a licensed educational institute in the jurisdiction of Washington, D.C.

 

Much remains to be done. Under the current auspices of our Certified Customs Specialist (CCS) Subcommittee the Master Customs Specialist (MCS) and Certified Drawback Specialist (CDS) programs made strong progress for expanding our curriculum along both the vertical and horizontal axes in 2015. Also organized under the CCS banner was the Transportation Work Group with the expectation that course curriculum in this area would continue the lateral expansion of our NEI certifications, laying the groundwork for comprehensive Global Logistics and Supply Chain Management credentials within the walls of the NEI. The Certified Export Specialist Subcommittee is preparing to add an Export 101 module to its curriculum and recreate the core CES curriculum for uploading to the NEI LMS. The planning and preparation stages for work in this Subcommittee on vertical expansion on the CES platform also moved forward in 2014.

 

In 2014 the Content Subcommittee met the dual challenges of leadership transition and curriculum uploading. This Subcommittee, with responsibility for solicitation, validation, organization, management, maintenance and delivery of all NEI content is attempting to create the NEI library, archives and wiki. These will become the repositories of NEI content and will inevitably be the critical element for success in our venture. The Policy Subcommittee fully supported its role in defining and nurturing the NEI; ensuring that it is firmly rooted in the best traditions of NCBFAA and that its roots continue to reach out in an ever-expanding way to the larger trade community.

 

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Ocean Carrier Best Practices Committee Report
By Melzana Wilson

 

The joint Carrier and NCBFAA Ocean Carrier Best Practices Committee (OCBPC) was formed to help carriers, customs brokers, forwarders and NVOCCs understand how their roles and practices affect service to their mutual customers. The committee’s goal is to establish non-binding best practices for the ocean transportation industry to facilitate efficient operations and help international trade flourish.

 

The OCBPC is jointly chaired by Transportation Committee member Kristiann App and Customs Committee member Melzana Wilson.

 

Points addressed in this past year with carriers included:

 

  • Carrier timeliness in processing ACH payments.
  • Implementation of Japan’s 24-hour manifest.
  • Status of China’s AMS.
  • Impact of ISF on carriers.
  • Practices of carriers to not move cargo on their bond to bill of lading noted ports.
  • Issue of carriers changing port of export without notice, particularly on the northern border.

 

This trade approach with the carriers by the NCBFAA standing committees gives the trade a platform to represent our carrier concerns with one voice. The carriers have been very supportive with feedback on issues of concern to the trade and have provided feedback as new programs have rolled out especially with countries adopting programs such as our own Automated Manifest filings. The input from both the carriers and the NCBFAA representatives has help to clarify and address both sides concerns in facilitating supply chain operations for our mutual clients.

 

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Affiliated Presidents Network (APN) Report
By Michelle Francis

 

As reflected in its charter, the Affiliate Presidents Network (APN) Committee facilitates information sharing, lines of communication and identification of common issues among the local Affiliated Associations and the NCBFAA. It accomplishes this through monthly teleconference calls as well as meetings during the NCBFAA’s Annual Conference in the spring and its Government Affairs Conference every fall.

 

During our teleconference calls and meetings we discuss a wide variety of issues/topics pertaining to successfully and efficiently running a local association.

 

These topics include increasing membership, educational offerings, association policy, and association procedures, among others. All APN members have access to the APN Organizational Documents website on the NCBFAA website. This website is a compilation of association management resources for the exclusive use of Affiliated Presidents. The material covers a wide range of topics including, by-laws, budget preparation, treasury operations, insurance needs, committee management, meeting scheduling, educational programs, communication tools, human resources, legal issues, association management, marketing initiatives, and member relations.

 

The APN currently includes 28 local broker and forwarder associations.

 

  • Atlanta International Forwarders and Brokers Association
  • Baltimore Custom Broker & Forwarders Association
  • Boston Custom Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association
  • Brownsville Licensed Customs Brokers Association
  • Customs Brokers & International Freight Forwarders Association of Washington State
  • Chicago Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association
  • Colorado Customs Brokers Association
  • Columbia River Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association
  • Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of Northern California
  • Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association of Charleston, S.C. Inc.
  • Customs Brokers/International Freight Forwarders of VA
  • Detroit Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association
  • Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association, Inc.
  • Houston Customhouse Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association
  • Independent Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Savannah
  • International Freight Forwarders & Custom Brokers Association of New Orleans
  • International Freight Forwarders/Customs Brokers Association of Charlotte
  • J.F.K. Airport Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association
  • Laredo Licensed U.S. Customs Brokers Association, Inc.
  • Los Angeles Custom Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association
  • New York/New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders & Brokers Association, Inc.
  • Nogales U.S. Customs Brokers Association, Inc.
  • North Texas Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association
  • Northern Border Customs Brokers Association, Inc.
  • Philadelphia Customs Brokers Association
  • San Diego Customs Brokers Association
  • Washington Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association
  • West Texas/New Mexico Customs Brokers Association

 

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CESAC Report
By Melzana Wilson

 

A voluntary, open, transportation industry forum, Customs Electronic Systems Action Committee (CESAC) provides a cooperative environment for exchanging ideas and resolving technical issues between the transportation industry and CBP’s Automated Commercial System (ACS) and ACE as well as with the ITDS, which includes those participating government agencies involved in U.S. imports and exports.

 

CESAC’s members represent all modes of transportation (Air, Ocean, Rail and Truck), trade sectors (NCBFAA, World Shipping Council, American Trucking Association, International Air Transport Association, Association of American Railroads, Terminal Operator and Port Authority Subcommittee), OTIs, customs brokers and software providers as well as any concerned government agency that may wish to participate.

 

The Transportation and Customs Committees have long recognized the importance of CESAC and each has a representative. Michelle Maslow Houser, Brauner International Corp., Jersey City, NJ and Melzana W. Wilson, Mallory Alexander International Logistics, LLC, Memphis, TN represent the Customs Committee while Merit Tremper, Merit Trade Consulting Services LLC, South Elgin, IL represents the Transportation Committee.

 

As representatives we attend the three scheduled meetings as well as participate with subcommittees and working groups within CESAC that conference call on a regular basis depending upon the issue.

 

This past year has been a busy one as both the trade and government move from ACS to ACE in data entry and processing.

 

Major topics addressed have included:

 

  • House Bill Release.
  • ITDS and visibility to all supply chain participants.
  • Hierarchy of holds/releases.
  • Automated Export Manifest Filing.
  • Export Split Shipments.
  • Visibility of Seal Changes by CBP to trade.
  • FROB freight and clearances.
  • ISF.
  • Trade Disruption.
  • Diversion Incidents.

 

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Membership Committee Report
By Bruce Goodwin

 

Throughout 2014, as we do each year, the NCBFAA has spent a significant amount of time stressing membership growth and with this attention has seen our Association grow to 969 total members (85 new members in 2014):

 

  • Regular                                      789
  • Affiliate                                      120
  • Associate                                      32
  • Affiliate Associations                   28

 

As has been stated many times before, key to the success of any association is its membership and the NCBFAA is no different. Imagine the professional talent that our Association has to choose from for leadership on our Executive Committee and all of the other extremely important committees that make up the NCBAAA. I have stated in the past that we just can’t rely on the Washington, DC office to expand our membership numbers; it is up to us as members, to also sell the Association to non-members that we are acquainted with or to your local association members who are not yet members of the NCBFAA.

 

Why do companies join the NCBFAA? They see the outstanding work being done and the information being passed on by our Customs Committee and our Transportation Committee, the updates that are received by the Regulatory Agencies Committee and the weekly updates available in the Monday Morning eBriefing. The Association’s legal team, consisting of customs council, transportation council and legislative representative, make sure that our voice is heard at CBP, FMC and Congress. These professionals help us deal and communicate in their respective areas of expertise.

 

Now we come to a very important reason why membership numbers are extremely important. They provide 35 percent of the Association’s funding that is used to protect our industry and make sure that we are invited to the “table” whenever matters pertaining to our industry arise. It is critical that the NCBFAA is able to have its say on these regulatory and legislative issues.

 

CBP is advising that, in the near future, licensed brokers will have to put in so many hours of “continuing education” every year/two years. The NCBFAA’s educational programs, so ably administered by its NEI department, are ideally suited to fulfil that CBP plan. Our CCS and CES programs have grown in the past few years to a point where importers and exporters/shippers consider that certification an imprimatur of professionalism when selecting a transportation agent. NEI is also a great source for inexpensive in-house employee training via webinars. These offerings allow the employees to learn without going off-site and the sessions are very reasonably priced.

 

I want to thank all of you who continue to sing the praises of the NCBFAA to non-members. I also want to thank my committee for their input and help. As members of the NCBFAA you are already involved, so help us just a little more to reach the highly achievable goal of 1,000 members in 2015!!

 

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Large Broker & Forwarder Sub-Committee Report
By Joe Trulik, Chair

 

The Large Broker & Forwarder Sub-Committee (LB&F) focuses on the impact of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and other government agency directives, actions and initiatives on large member corporations. As a subcommittee of the Customs Committee, the LB&F is charged with the identification of issues, the sharing of member perspectives and proposed solutions, and then elevating the information with comments to the Customs Committee.

 

In 2014, the LB&F convened via bi-monthly conference calls. The main topics discussed were:

 

  • 19 CFR part 111 Rewrite and associated topics, notably a specific definition of “Customs business” and the proposed National Permit recommendations;
  • The rollout and broader implementation of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise;
  • ACE development, including programming; the PGA Pilot;
  • Broker employee information in the ACE portal;
  • The Broker Pre-Certification Program for ISA; and,
  • The Broker Known Importer program.

 

Members of the LB&F also met in face-to-face meetings to discuss the 19 CFR Part 111 Rewrite with Customs Committee representatives and CBP officials.

 

Issues escalated to the Customs Committee by the Large Broker & Forwarder Subcommittee include:

 

  • Notifications and penalties from CBP on Importer Security Filing deficiencies
  • ACE broker employee reporting, issues with personal broker employee information being available on the ACE portal
  • Questions for CBP regarding PGA messaging and the release process for PGA entries  
  • Proposed revisions to CBP Form 5106 changes and the potential impact on the trade community
  • CSMS Message 14-000460 – Post Importation Claims for Preferential Tariff Treatment

 

The LB&F Committee will meet via conference call throughout 2015, and will evaluate opportunities for in person meetings at NCBFAA Conferences.

 

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