SHIPPING INDUSTRY FALLS IN LINE WITH 24-HOUR RULE
U.S. Customs has reported no major instances of failure by the shipping industry to comply with the first enforcement phase of its new advance manifest regulation.
Effective since Dec. 2, Customs requires both vessel operators and non-vessel-operating common carriers to file their cargo manifests to the agency prior to loading on ships overseas. The agency gave the industry until Feb. 2 before it started to enforce the regulation.
“We can tell that people are trying (to comply),” said Elizabeth Durant, executive director of trade compliance and facilitation for U.S. Customs at a National Cargo Security Council meeting in Washington. “We’re pretty encouraged by the improvement (in manifest data quality) in what we’ve seen so far.”
During the early enforcement of the so-called 24-hour rule, Customs’ National Targeting Center in Washington is focused on unacceptable cargo descriptions, such as FAK (freight all kinds) and STC (said to contain) listed on inbound manifests.
Durant said the agency is “not nitpicking” with these descriptions. The agency simply wants a “good faith” effort on the part of the industry to comply with the 24-hour rule. Accurate and timely manifest information is important for Customs to prevent terrorists from using the international supply chain to conceal weapons of mass destruction, she said.
Customs will initially issue “do-not-load” messages to vessel operators and NVOs on the Automated Manifest System that fail to provide proper cargo descriptions on their manifests.
The liner carrier industry has not experienced a rash of “do-not-load” messages since the enforcement of the 24-hour rule took effect.
The head of the World Shipping Council, a Washington-based representative for the liner industry, called the agency’s enforcement a “smart strategy.”
“Customs is doing the right thing,” said Christopher Koch, president and chief executive officer of the World Shipping Council in an interview. “They’re doing a thoroughly professional job.”
However, Koch warned that Customs is only “at the starting gate” of enforcing the 24-hour rule. “There’s a lot of stuff associated with this rule that has not yet been wrestled to the ground,” he said.
Customs plans to soon turn its attention to more rigorous enforcement of shipper and consignee information listed on manifests. The once common use of forwarder-to-forwarder, NVO-to-NVO and bank-to-bank designations for shipper and consignee is no longer acceptable, Durant said.