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Do You Keep Your Manifest Information CONFIDENTIAL?

posted by Jennifer Diaz April 15, 2013 0 comments

Did you know importers and consignees can request that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) keep your manifest information confidential?

If you are currently letting your competitors know your source, read on, and learn how to keep your private data private!

Pursuant to the privacy statute, 19 C.F.R. § 103.31 (d) the public is allowed to collect manifest data (e.g., bills of lading) at every port of entry. This information is limited to vessel manifests. Air, rail, and truck manifests are not available to the general public in any form.

 

Websites such as panjiva.com, datamyne.com and importgenius.com (to name a few) collect and publish the names of importers, suppliers, and manufacturers from vessel manifest data. This can be troubling for some, as your competitors are able to access information related to the sourcing and/ or manufacturing of your products. However, an importer/shipper may make a request to CBP for confidentiality. The confidential protection is valid for 2 years, thereafter, you have to renew your request.

 

The public may obtain manifest data at every port of entry. However, Section 103.31 states that

Only the name and address of the shipper, general characteristics of the cargo, number of packages, gross weight, name of the vessel, port of exit, port of destination, and country of destination may be copied and published.

The regulation also states that

An importer or consignee may request confidential treatment of its name and address contained in inward manifests, to include identifying marks and numbers. In addition, an importer or consignee may request confidential treatment of the name and address of the shipper or shippers to such importer or consignee.

It is essential that you send in renewal requests 60 days prior to the expiration of the 2 year confidentiality period.  The importer will receive a response when the confidentiality request has been granted and it will state the effective time period.

 

CBP sent a message to trade on Feburary 7, 2013 (CSMS #13-000064), titled "improperly formatted ACE ocean manifest data resulting in release of confidential data."  CBP made it clear that after an importer requests confidentiality, and its granted by CBP, the importer must be sure the commercial party names submitted to CBP always match – CBP will not grant confidentiality if you use any variation of the name originally requested. One incorrect keystroke by an individual who is processing the information can result in a new variation of company information that is not covered by the grant of confidentiality. CBP has stated that the release of confidential data is strictly the result of improper data entry by users and not by CBP programming or system errors. 

 

To assure you send an effective request for confidentiality and so your competitors don’t have access to your private data, contact me today!

Best PracticesCBPDepartment of Homeland SecurityEventsExportFDA IssuesImportSpeakingU.S.Customs

Jennifer Diaz Speaks After Dominic Veneziano at Global Clinical Sourcing & Supply Summit

posted by Jennifer Diaz February 27, 2013 0 comments

I’m thrilled to be included as a speaker in the upcoming Global Clinical Sourcing and Supply Summit in Philadelphia.  I’ve included all the pertinent details about the summit and even a discount for you, my loyal readers! 

WHAT: Global Clinical Sourcing and Supply Summit.  Includes a FDA Address by Domenic Veneziano, Director of FDA’s Division of Import Operations and Policy, and Industry Perspectives by speakers from Merck, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, AstraZeneca, and much more. The full agenda may be seen here.

WHEN: March 4-5, 2013

WHERE: Radisson Plaza – Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia, PA

WHO: You will benefit by attending if you are a Vice President, Director, Manager, or other Senior Executive from a pharmaceutical or biotech company with responsibilities in: Clinical Supplies, Supply Chain Planning and Forecasting, Clinical Labeling, Clinical Sourcing, Procurement, Investigational Materials, Global Logistics, Clinical Contracting, Clinical Packaging

WHY: My portion of the Summit will cover an update on current import and export control, discussion of free trade agreements in place and top trading partners, top tips to utilize when importing or exporting to assure compliance with federal government laws and regulations, and how to effectively resolve issues from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when importing. 

To give you EVEN MORE of an incentive, email me for the Promo Code to save $500 off the registration fee!  Offer expires on March 4, 2013 – so don’t delay!

If that’s not enough for you, I leave you with an additional TOP 10 Reasons to Attend: 

  1. Hear directly from the FDA on Import processes and requirements
  2. Optimize your communication strategies with clinical operations
  3. Understand the risks and rewards with central versus local sourcing options
  4. Ensure efficiency while meeting the expectations of sites, patients and regulators
  5. Develop strategies to monitor the changing regulatory requirements in emerging markets
  6. Analyze the complex logistical and distribution challenges in India
  7. Effectively resolve U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issues
  8. Establish a metrics-driven system to enhance contractor performance
  9. Reengineer current packaging process to streamline efficiency
  10. Navigate global quality, compliance and regulatory challenges

To give you EVEN MORE of an incentive, tell them Jennifer Diaz sent you by using Promo Code GCSSP5 and save $500 off the registration fee! Offer expires on March 4, 2013 – so don’t delay!

Department of Homeland SecurityImportTSA

TSA 100% Screening – The Air Cargo Advance Screening Pilot Takes Off

posted by Jennifer Diaz June 27, 2012 0 comments

On May 16, 2012, the Transportation Security Administration [TSA] announced – starting December 3, 2012, all international passenger air carriers destined for the United States will be subject to 100% cargo screening. TSA’s website advises: “[g]lobal shippers and U.S. importers should contact their logistics partners to determine if these measures may have any impact on their supply chain.” This process requires enhanced screening for shipments designated as higher risk, while lower risk shipments will undergo other physical screening protocols.

How Can Your Supply Chain Remain Streamlined?
There is an Air Cargo Advance Screening [ACAS] pilot strategic plan underway to keep global supply chains efficient. ACAS is a voluntary initiative allowing carriers, forwarders and shippers to submit electronic data about cargo before it is shipped.  TSA and CBP will have a fast and efficient new ways to screen vast amounts of cargo and zero-in more quickly on which specific items require further scrutiny, and which cargo items are cleared to get in the air faster.

Recently, at the AirCargo 2012 conference in Miami, CBP Deputy Commissioner Thomas Winkowski stated “[t]his is our new roadmap. . .this will lead everyone in this room toward a better, more secure way of moving cargo by air. . . To date, we have successfully processed 14 million transactions and proved that the system works.” Of those 14 million transactions, less than one percent required further scrutiny. Winkowski stated “ACAS is a game changer.

For more information regarding how these changes will affect your company’s global supply chain beginning this December, or updates on the ACAS program’s implementation and how to apply, contact attorney Jennifer Diaz at (305) 260-1053 or JDiaz@becker-poliakoff.com.

Jennifer Diaz is the Chair of the Customs and International Trade Department at Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. She earned her J.D. from Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. Jennifer is admitted to practice law in the state of Florida and is board-certified in International Law by the Florida Bar.

Department of Homeland Security

A Conversation with DHS Secretary Tom Ridge

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 20, 2012 0 comments

On January 26, 2012, I attended an exclusive, "off the record dinner for Florida business and community leaders to discuss the growing global national security and economic challenges our country faces today." The guest speaker was none other than the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge.  I was fascinated by what I heard from Secretary Ridge.

I had expected the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the first Secretary from 2003 to 2005 of the then new U.S. Department of Homeland Security to give the usual law enforcement speech about  securing U.S. borders and ports, counter-terrorism, deporting illegal immigrants, etc.  None of those ideas were discussed directly. Instead, the entire discussion initiated by Secretary Ridge was about promoting international trade as a way of ensuring economic security, and through our economic security, we maintain our leadership in the world.  Even after I peppered him with questions, he did not waiver.  Such a transformation was both surprising and impressive considering the current "5 Core Missions" of DHS.

The delightful dinner was sponsored by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. The USGLC is a broad-based, bipartisan coalition of more than 400 businesses, non-profits, faith-based, and community leaders led by Honorary Chair Colin Powell.  I am a member of the USGLC’s Florida Advisory Committee.

The new wisdom from Secretary Ridge should be seriously considered by our political leaders.  But, that’s just the view of one customs and international trade attorney. 

Department of Homeland SecuritySeizures

Notice of Detention of Merchandise by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 24, 2011 4 Comments

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a February 22, 2011 60-Day Notice and Request for Comments regarding its use of a "Notice of Detention".  I know, a lot of you are saying to yourselves, "When did CBP starting using Notices of Detention," and my response to you is "That’s a darn good question!"

The law, 19 U.S.C. 1499 and 19 CFR 151.16, allows CBP officers at the border to stop and search persons for merchandise.  If the CBP officer discovers something suspicious, and takes it from you, then it has been "detained".  In exchange, the CBP officer is required to send to the importer or passenger a Notice of Detention form no later than 5 business days from the date of the examination, stating that: (1) the merchandise has been detained, (2) the reason for the detention, and (3) the anticipated length of the detention. 

That all sounds reasonable, but the problem is that the legal requirement is often ignored by CBP.  Often, a Notice of Detention is never issued by CBP to the importer, or is issued late or does not state the reason for the detained merchandise.  I  have seen a few hundred Notices of Detention over the past 21 years as a customs lawyer, but have never seen one that described "the anticipated length of detention."

The Request for Comments asks the public for "ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected."  I have a way to enhance the quality of the CBP Notice of Detention – follow the law and issue it every time, on time, and accurately.   For those who want to respond formally to CBP, click on the link for the address to address comments before April 25, 2011

Department of Homeland SecurityTSA

Does the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Make Us Safer?

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 17, 2011 3 Comments

I read a fascinating article entitled "HOMELAND SECURITY HASN’T MADE US SAFER," written by Anne Applebaum, a columnist for the Washington Post and Slate.  It was in the January/February issue of Foreign Policy magazine.  The article criticized the massive spending of time and money by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  Ms. Applebaum aimed her barbs right at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with the comment:  "As for the TSA, I am not aware of a single bomber or bomb plot stopped by its time-wasting procedures."

I started thinking about it, and even as a pretty well informed customs and international trade attorney, I could not recall a single incident either.  I have seen the indignities of TSA personnel at the airport force handicapped and elderly people out of their wheelchairs.  I have also been the victim of TSA officers groping around my private areas during one of their random, ‘enhanced pat down’ searches.  For a rollicking good laugh, I encourage you to read the official TSA Blog.  People say the strangest things about their air travel experiences to the TSA from the supposed privacy and safety of their computers.

The TSA submitted a budget request of $8.1 billion for fiscal year 2012. With the billions of dollars spent by both the Bush and Obama Administrations over the past 10 years in the ‘War on Terrorism’ and in support of ‘homeland security,’ the question of whether or not the TSA’s 43,000 trained and certified Transportation Security Officers make us safer through its passenger and baggage screening procedures is still debatable.

I would still like to meet the idiot savant who came up with the 3-1-1 TSA rule about carrying liquids aboard an airplane.  I can’t figure out why we had the technology to send men to the moon in 1969, but in 2011 still have to take our shoes off before walking through a TSA x-ray machine.  I guess the silver lining in all this is that, relatively speaking, the air and ocean cargo screening procedures by the TSA are much better thought out and reasonable.

Department of Homeland Security

Free Trade Agreements: Good or Bad?

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog January 9, 2011 2 Comments

I am still troubled by the Wall Street Journal lead article on October 4, 2010 with the headline "Recession-Weary Americans Sour on Free Trade."  I asked myself why would Americans who live in an economy built successfully on the principles of capitalism and free enterprise be against international trade?  The WSJ article stated that a poll concluded that 53% of Americans said free trade hurt, rather than helped, the U.S. economy, a statistic that increased from 46% in 2007 and 32% in 1999.  My bold prediction is that 2011 will be the year that the Obama Administration successfully finalizes free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, and then Congress passes laws approving them.

Americans sometimes want their cake and eat it too. They want American companies to make and export more airplanes, more tractors, and more wheat and corn, all the while shopping at their local department stores and buying merchandise made in, and exported from, China, Indonesia, and Mexico.   As stated in the WSJ by my law school friend Myron Brilliant, Senior Vice President at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

When we knock down [trade] barriers in those [foreign] markets, we create jobs here [in the United States]. We’ve got to trade to create jobs in our country.

Boeing employs tens of thousands of employees in the United States to produce airplanes to sell overseas.  American farmers grow wheat and corn in amounts far beyond what could be consumed in the United States.  Caterpillar sells more tractor equipment overseas than it does in the United States. According to CNN.com, the U.S. International Trade Commission has estimated that reducing customs duties in the U.S.-Korea trade agreement will increase exports of American goods to South Korean by at least $10 billion per year.

With the Republicans now in control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. Senate, it is my hope that both my Republican and Democratic friends who understand and appreciate the benefits of international trade will embrace free trade agreements. That sure would help achieve President Obama’s ambitions of doubling U.S. exports within 5 years.  Customs duties imposed by the United States on foreign made, imported products, and customs duties imposed by Panama, South Korea, and Colombia on U.S. made products is really just another form of taxation. Since we all detest taxes, let’s join together and pass these free trade agreements in 2011.

Department of Homeland SecurityFoodImport

U.S. Congressional Trade Committee Questions CBP and ICE

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog May 24, 2010 0 comments

On May 20, 2010, the top management of both U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade.   Chairman Tanner said the hearing was "to strike the right balance" between trade facilitation and security.  Unfortunately, the Committee heard all about the enforcement success of both ICE and CBP without hearing about the difficulties faced daily by importers and customs brokers.

Chairman Tanner accurately stated:

There has been a growing concern that, in particular, CBP’s modernization of trade functions, facilitation of trade, and enforcement of traditional customs laws have appeared to lag while the agency tightened security screening of passengers and cargo.

ICE was particularly proud of its accomplishments by its National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.  In ongoing Operation Guardian, ICE has interdicted substandard, tainted, or counterfeit products, including food and medicine that pose health and safety risks to American consumers.  $26 million of such condoms, circuit breakers, toys, extension cords, honey, and shrimp were seized by ICE and CBP.

What was not revealed was how many unnecessary delays and expenses were caused by ICE and CBP for the legitimate merchandise that entered or transited the United States.  In order to determine the effectiveness of the targeting programs used by CBP, Congress needs to inquire about the number of detentions and examinations by CBP, and the consequential financial costs to importers.  The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also concerned with properly targeted imported food shipments, as indicated in its May 6, 2010 report on "Food Safety".

Does CBP do a good job at targeting imported shipments?

Department of Homeland Security

Who Should Give Advice to U.S. Customs?

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 25, 2010 3 Comments

I attended the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs and Border Protection (COAC) meeting on February 25, 2010 in Miami.  The 20 private sector members of COAC are jointly selected by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury, and include knowledgeable customs compliance and logistics personnel from such prominent companies as DHL, APL, Hasbro, and GE.  The COAC meets four times a year to discuss creating or changing the policies and procedures of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as they affect the international trade community.

The Miami meeting included an introduction by Acting Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar, referred to as “Chief” which is his title with the CBP component U.S. Border Patrol.  Chief Aguilar spoke about “security,” “resilience,” and “protecting customs and exchange” which apparently is the new terminology for the former “facilitating international trade”.  His introduction focused on assessing and mitigating risks of people and cargo entering the United States.

Substantive presentations were made by, among others, Therese Randazzo, Director, IPR Policy and Programs, Office of International Trade on behalf of the IPR Subcommittee.  Therese discussed the new IPR sample bond form for trademark and copyright owners to use to get samples of detained or seized merchandise from CBP.

Rich DiNucci, Director, Secure Freight Initiative, Office of Field Operations on the topic of Importer Security Filing, stated there were 2,300 ISF filers with 141,000 unique importer record numbers. Rich stated that the timeliness of the ISF or “10+2” filing has increased to 75%.  No penalties would be issued by CBP for ISF filing errors or failure to file…for now.

Bradd Skinner,  Director, Industry Partnership Programs, Office of Field Operations, spoke about C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism). Bradd announced that CBP now had 9,710 certified C-TPAT members, a dramatic increase from the original 7 members in 2001.  1,200 new members were added in 2009.  CBP Security Supply Chain Specialists conducted 14,000 validations so far in 87 countries.  297 companies were suspended or removed from C-TPAT in 2009.

The COAC is an excellent way for private sector persons and companies to interact with top level CBP and Treasury personnel regarding the critically important, and sometime competing, objectives of security and trade. Now more than ever, our Government needs to listen closely how to improve the daily lives of its citizens. Chief Aguilar, thanks for listening.