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NCBFAA wants CBP follow-up from weekly trade calls

The association, which represents the country’s customs brokers and freight forwarders, seeks better engagement between Customs and Border Protection and industry software vendors.

The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) is frustrated by what it perceives to be a lack of follow-up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials after the agency’s Thursday calls with the trade.

“All too often, questions that impact the entire trade community are met with the response ‘we’ll take that back’ and then either individual follow-up is given to the specific member of the trade community that is asking the general question or no answer or follow-up is ever given to anyone in the trade,” said NCBFAA President Amy Magnus in an Oct. 3 letter to Jim Byram, CBP’s Office of Trade director. 

Image: NCBFAA President Amy Magnus

The NCBFAA’s biggest concern with the lack of follow-up from CBP’s weekly trade calls is the negative impact that it has on the industry’s software vendors. They cannot properly make changes or improvements to their software if they do not have clear direction from CBP, Magnus said. 

The association has asked CBP to “reengage” the software industry through the monthly meetings of the Trade Support Network (TSN), which offers the agency recommendations on developing its programming for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). 

“While NCBFAA represents the software vendors that are NCBFAA members, we believe that there is great value and vital dialogue that occurs within the TSN that should be ongoing as ACE continues to be enhanced,” Magnus wrote.

Magnus also emphasized the need for the software industry’s involvement prior to publishing any changes to the ACE CATAIR (Customs and Trade Automated Interface Requirements) or Supplemental Guides to “provide the trade with timely and adequate software.” 

In addition, the NCBFAA urged CBP to seek input from industry representatives of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) before pursuing new ACE programming. 

“The software vendors need to be made aware of any changes prior to the change and with enough lead time so we can discuss the impact to the trade and the many software systems in production,” she added.

Magnus said the NCBFAA has requested a meeting with CBP officials to find ways to improve its engagement with the software vendors.

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.