SHIPPERS, INTERMEDIARY GROUPS DECRY PROPOSED ADVANCE MANIFEST FILING
Seven industry groups rejected a U.S. Customs Service proposal calling for the electronic transmission of a vessel’s manifest 24-hours prior to lading before departure for the United States.
“We respectfully request that the NPRM be withdrawn,” the groups said in the letter. “The proposed regulations will only serve to interdict the smooth flow of legitimate commerce and economically disadvantage NVOCCs (non-vessel operating common carriers), importers and other various entities involved in commercial trade.”
The comments were filed to Customs in a letter sent Monday by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America; the Business Alliance for Customs Modernization; American Association of Exporters and Importers; Joint Industry Group; Pacific Coast Council of Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers; International Association of NVOCCS Inc.; and the Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association. The groups were responding to a notice of proposed rulemaking the agency posted in the Federal Register Aug. 8.
“The unintended effect of these proposals will be to severely impede the normal commercial flow of trade,” they said. “While Customs believes that the proposed amendments are necessary and required for the protection of this country, we do not believe the contemplated changes will achieve that end.”
Additionally, the groups said that Customs NPRM uses ambiguous language to describe what is required for precise descriptions contained on manifests. The proposed rule would give Customs an “unreasonably wide scope of authority” in determining whether a manifest is compliant.
The group added that the precision of the data on a manifest is too dependent on the shipper’s willingness to furnish such information. “There is no guarantee that a description received is in fact a reliable description,” they wrote.
''The letter’s signers said they felt that the proposed regulations are only applicable to ports participating in the Container Security Initiative, a Customs public-private program that calls for pre-screening of cargo prior to departure of U.S.-bound ships. Several nations, including Germany, France and Singapore have signed up to participate in CSI. “The proposed regulations outline a set of procedures only for CSI ports,” the letter said.
Other issues the group raised in the letter include:
* The ruling increases security risks by requiring unsecured cargo to remain on foreign docks longer.
* The rules are unenforceable in a non-electronic environment.
* The NPRM does not address situations where licensed and bonded NVOCCs ‘co-load’ cargo.
* The recently enacted Section 343(a)(1) of the Trade Act of 2002 does not grant authority for Customs to require information for cargo before importation.