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NCBFAA Shares View on CBP Oversight With Congress
Washington, DC: In testimony before the House Subcommittee on Trade, National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) President Darrell Sekin, Jr., highlighted the role of customs brokers in the importing process and detailed their collaboration with Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The NCBFAA President emphasized the importance of automation, which he called “a powerful tool, facilitating smooth trade flows and sharpening enforcement of trade laws.” That is why his first point to the committee centered on funding for development of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).
“The funding request from the Administration is inadequate and the pending House appropriations bill guarantees nothing for ACE development,” Mr. Sekin explained, “Currently, ACE functionality is a bridge that only goes half-way over the river. Practically speaking, it cannot process entries – its core responsibility – until ‘release’ is finished.” Without funding for this last critical component, the NCBFAA President told the committee “the system promises little incentive for customs brokers --who file 97% of the entries-- to participate.”
He then spoke about the role of the broker, noting that the broker is “committed to meeting CBP’s exacting standards and rigorous regulation…..in exchange for the privilege of engaging in customs brokerage.” He described this as the “grand bargain” between CBP and the customs broker, where “Customs can rely on the accuracy and integrity of the information they receive; a customs broker assumes a special, unique place in accomplishing the agency’s mission.”
In light of this, he said, CBP is seeking to expand the broker’s role “as a ‘force multiplier’ because one customs broker reaches, educates and acts for a multitude of importers, most notably small and medium-sized businesses.” By leveraging the reach of customs brokers, CBP hopes to further facilitate trade and promote the vitality of the American economy.
He warned, however, that this approach has its limits since customs brokers are retained to work in the interests of his client, the importer, where “he must direct his primary loyalty.” Nevertheless, he said, there are many ways that customs brokers can collaborate with CBP, noting how the NCBFAA “and CBP have worked intensively together to explore ways to achieve this and to meet the challenges of commerce in the 21st Century.” President Sekin focused on four areas of collaboration:
· Education and Certification
· Customs Broker Responsibilities
· Support for New Customs Programs
· Advocate For A Series of High-Priority Customs Issues
More specifically, he called for enhanced professionalism of customs brokers through certification programs and practical experience requirements; He also pointed out that these customs broker responsibilities were under discussion with CBP:
· Clarifying the broker’s responsibility to validate new clients;
· Modernizing the regulations to align with current electronic capabilities and business practices
· Participating in the Importer Self-Assessment (ISA) pre-certification program, potentially performing the comprehensive review of the ISA applicant’s package and evaluating the applicant’s readiness to participate in the program; and
· Promote the interests of the broker’s small and medium-sized clients who would otherwise qualify as “trusted partners.”
The NCBFAA is also helping to market several CBP initiatives, including, ACE, the Centers for Excellence and Expertise, and the Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) pilot. Finally, the NCBFAA is involved in promoting a number of public policy issues designed to improve the performance of the agency, including; ACE funding, drawback, Anti-dumping/countervailing duties, role of the broker, Court of International Trade (CIT), Other Government Agencies, and CBP Field Operations.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents nearly 866 member companies with 100,000 employees in international trade - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), NVOCCs and air cargo agents, serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefing and various meetings as well as conferences throughout the year.
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