American Shipper



   The World Shipping Council generally supports U.S. Customs’ efforts to keep terrorists out of the supply chain through the use of advance cargo information, but wants to avoid delays to legitimate container traffic.

   Under the 2002 Trade Act, Customs is required to promulgate regulations to receive advance inbound and outbound cargo information from all transport modes of the shipping industry by Oct. 1. Customs must also consult with the industry, a phase the agency refers to as the “strawman,” when developing these regulations.

   Effective Dec. 2, Customs implemented regulations that require advance cargo manifest information from ocean carriers and non-vessel-operating common carriers 24 hours prior to loading on U.S.-bound vessels overseas.

   Customs has proposed requiring a date/time of lading data field under the strawman proposal. The World Shipping Council said it does not support the inclusion this data field.

      The association said one way for Customs to check compliance in this area is to “spot check the records of a ship’s log to see when it departed from a foreign port and compare that to when the cargo declaration information was filed.”

   The World Shipping Council also recommended that Customs continue the practice of allowing carriers to transmit authorized manifest amendments and corrections.

   “This is very important,” the council said. “It is essential that Customs not limit AMS (Automated Manifest System) filing carriers’ ability to file manifest amendments that occur as a result of normal business operations.”

   In the outbound ocean freight strawman, Customs indicated that it intends to use the Automated Export System (AES) Vessel Transportation Module as the system to receive export cargo information prior to export from the United States.

   Currently, the AES Vessel Transportation Module allows approved ocean carriers to transmit available booking data to Customs 72 hours in advance of departure, following up with the complete export manifest details within 10 days after vessel departure from a U.S. port.

   “The Customs strawman appears to envision carriers’ continued filing of advanced booking data in addition to the filing of advanced manifest information 24 hours before departure,” the World Shipping Council said.

   The council believes that Customs should seek additional export information from shipper’s export declarations (SEDs) filed by the U.S. principal party in interest.

   “Requiring carriers to file their cargo declaration information before vessel loading was, for reasons based in large part on Customs’ AMS system, determined to be the necessary way to obtain advance information on inbound cargo,” the council said. “That does not mean the same solution should automatically be applied to outbound cargo, especially when one recognizes that Customs’ information systems for outbound cargo allow other options to be considered.”

   “Alternatively, Customs could require a carrier to file a complete manifest 24 hours before vessel loading or departure, as is required for inbound cargo, but in that case, it would appear that also filing advance booking information would be unnecessary and should be eliminated,” the council added.

   In addition, the World Shipping Council questioned why Customs does not address mandatory advance electronic cargo information obligations for NVOs for outbound shipments.

   The World Shipping Council also urged Customs to develop an exemption process for outbound breakbulk cargoes and not include empty container manifests before vessel loading.

   “We recognize and appreciate that the strawman proposals were designed to foster thinking and preliminary comments regarding how best to support the twin goals of enhanced supply chain security and the efficient flow of commerce,” the council said. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with Customs, in the development of appropriate, secure and trade-facilitating Trade Act regulations.”