Prospects bright for U.S. customs brokers, says new Customs deputy
Importers will still rely on brokers even after U.S. Customs and Border Protection finally installs its new automated import/export filing system sometime within the next couple of years, said Deborah Spero, the agency’s acting deputy commissioner in waiting.
Some brokers fear a loss of business when Customs begins to use the Automated Commercial Environment for filing entries, but history shows that brokers have continued to thrive as the agency has become more automated, Spero told the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America convention last week.
“I don’t see irreconcilable differences. I see partnership and I see CBP listening” to broker concerns, Spero said, one week before officially taking over for outgoing Deputy Commissioner Douglas Browning.
Spero, who spent most of her time at Customs dealing with trade compliance issues as assistant commissioner of strategic trade, said importers and Customs are relying on brokers to make sure shipping documents are filed properly.
In 1995, more than 2,600 entities filed entries through the Automated Broker Interface and 1,600 of them were brokers. Today, brokers still file the majority of import documents. The 2,300 brokers that use ABI account for 70 percent of all ABI filers, Spero said.
Brokers will continue to have plenty of work because U.S. imports continue to rise and as more small companies become importers they will need to rely on the expertise of brokers she said.
More than 1,200 brokers have applied to join the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, she said.