NCBFAA Criticizes Senate Maritime Penalty Provision As A

Tom Mathers
Phone: (202) 466-0222
 
For Immediate Release

Washington, DCIn a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee today, National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, Inc., (NCBFAA) President sharply criticized a maritime penalty provision in a Senate Commerce Committee-approved bill. Under the proposed measure, cargo left on a pier for more than five days would have to be sent to a General Order warehouse or face up to $5,000 in penalties per bill-of-lading. The objectionable provision is contained in S. 2279, the Maritime Transportation Security Act. 
        In his letter to the bill’s sponsors, Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, NCBFAA President Zuniga explained how the bill "creates an inconsistent clash with existing customs law and existing security measures, resulting in an untenable ‘Catch-22’ for importers and customs brokers." 
        The NCBFAA President pointed out that "S. 2279 imposes a $5,000 penalty per bill of lading if the container is not moved from the pier within 5 days. Yet, neither the customs broker, nor the importer, nor the steamship line is authorized under existing law to transport the container until entry and release occurs and a permit for its delivery is granted."
        NCBFAA questioned whether "we really want a container selected for a CBP examination or subject to an agency hold to be whisked off to a General Order warehouse? This would only serve to undermine and further delay the VACIS inspection or the more intensive examination at the CES."
        In conclusion, NCBFAA admonished legislators for overlooking "the fact that there are already powerful incentives for the importer to do everything in its power to move the container off the pier. The primary incentive occurs after 48 hours, when the steamship lines start assessing demurrage charges, which can be very substantial. It is also in the interests of commerce and the importer that goods move to market quickly…When it does not move, it is more often than not due to a hold placed by a government agency."
        With headquarters in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA (www.ncbfaa.org) represents nearly 700 member companies - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs) and air cargo agents. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the strong, 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 eBriefingQuarterly NCBFAA Bulletin, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.

 

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