NVOCC-GAC SUBMITS ADVANCE MANIFEST COMMENTS TO U.S. CUSTOMS
The Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carrier-Government Affairs Conference said U.S. Customs’ proposed advance manifest rules raise concerns for the ocean freight consolidators, but with some modification aren’t insurmountable for the industry to follow.
The NVOCC-GAC was formed late last year in response to concerns about how proposed maritime security regulations would be applied to the consolidators. The group’s membership comprises both medium and large NVOCCs that operate globally.
On Aug. 8, Customs proposed regulations that would require ocean carriers and NVOCCs to file their manifest data 24 hours prior to loading in overseas ports.
“The daunting task of becoming part of a cargo security program that would require accurate information submitted electronically to U.S. Customs 24 hours before cargo is laden onboard a vessel at a foreign port causes immense concerns to the NVOCC community,” the NVOCC-GAC said in a filing of comments to Customs.
“It raises issues of technical competency; of dealing with the operational consequences of boxes not making scheduled sailings, and boxes being detained; and, of course, the NVOCC-GAC is seriously mindful of the penalty consequences of breaching these regulations,” the group said.
The NVOCC-GAC said they would be willing to participate in Customs’ Automated Manifest System with some modifications to the proposed filing rules.
To prevent confusion of which NVOCC containers may be loaded on vessels, Customs needs to develop a “green light” or official electronic notice in AMS for the ocean carriers. It should not be left up to the NVOCCs to tell the ocean carriers when they can load their containers, the group said.
The NVOCC-GAC also said Customs’ advance manifest rules must show an understanding of the industry practice of co-loading. “It should be clear that the NVOCC that appears in the shipper or consignee box of the masterbill is the NVOCC with reporting duties and responsibilities for all the cargo in the box,” the group said.
The NVOCC-GAC also said it accepts the new responsibilities related to participation in AMS and compliance with the international carrier bond requirements for the industry. However, the group said that “NVOCCs are not assuming any other new roles, and the bond obligation should reflect that.”
In addition, the NVOCC-GAC requested that measures be taken by Customs to ensure confidentiality of its manifest data.
“Absent an outright prohibition on public disclosure of all manifest information (which has been proposed in congressional legislation), as an alternative, NVOCCs should be permitted to request biennial certification from Customs for their underlying importer and/or consignee customers as ‘attorneys-in-fact,'” the NVOCC-GAC said. “Under the current law, NVOCCs may have no standing to request confidential treatment of manifest information because they are neither the importer nor the consignee on their house bill of lading.”