PortMiami has been working feverishly to bring back transshipment to Miami.

Step one was PortMiami’s outreach to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).  PortMiami Director Bill Johnson wrote a letter to Acting CBP Commissioner, Thomas Winkowski, dated June 26, 2013, asking CBP to develop a pilot program, “with a transshipment inspection protocol pilot for PortMiami.”

According to PortMiami’s letter to CBP Commission Winkowski,  prior to 9-11, “transhipment made up over 22% of the cargo trade  at PortMiami.” Now, that transshipment cargo goes through Panama, Freeport, and Kingston. 

You may be asking, what’s the rationale for the move to other ports away from PortMiami? 

The answer, CBP’s increased inspections of transshipment goods, resulting in cargo delays and added expenses.  A specific example is CBP’s intensive examination of goods checking for intellectual property rights violations, and seizing goods that are non-compliant, when alternative ports are not as proactive.  CBP confirmed that after 9-11, almost all transshipment cargo was inspected, now, CBP is down to under 5% (a much more reasonable number).

CBP confirmed that its mission is to protect the nations borders, but, also to “PROMOTE AND EXPEDITE TRADE AND COMMERCE,” which is wonderful to hear from CBP!!

CBP leaders are active on this committee and CBP has 4 lofty goals:

  1. As a result of PortMiami’s efforts, a new task-force has formed, and CBP is actively partnering with PortMiami to ensure its success.  It is called the “Transshipment Committee” and will meet quarterly at PortMiami. Terminal Operators and ALL other stakeholders are welcome.  The first meeting took place on November 15, 2013, and the next will likely take place in February, before the State of the Ports.
  2. CBP has assigned a “Customer Service Manager” from CBP. Robert Martin, Chief of ATCET will take on this role. Terminal operators will have direct contact with Chief Martin to discuss delays and help facilitate the flow of legitimate cargo.
  3. Kenneth Haeffner, the APD of Trade for CBP will take on a new role in charge of “Outreach” and has promised to work with the Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association (FCBF) on an “In-Bond” class to assure all stakeholders understand all in bond requirements, especially the Importer Security Filing (ISF) requirements as they relate to in-bonds.
  4. The terminals will provide CBP a list of all in transit merchandise, in advance, and CBP promised to coordinate the expediting review of in transit merchandise (as CBP does for perishable goods).  CBP will also coordinate physical exam efforts to assure goods are examined and released expeditiously so the goods can make their next sailing.

CBP promised it is “committed and will do everything in its power to expedite transshipment’s.”

The Transshipment Committee additionally discussed new protocol suggestions, best practices, and how to market Miami as the new transshipment hub!

This is extremely hopeful for Miami, as we prepare for post Panamax ships to arrive and the trade community sets up the infrastructure we need for additional cargo, its wonderful to have CBP on the same page helping facilitate and expedite legitimate cargo!!

The Journal of Commerce wrote a piece on this story on November 25, 2013 – titled “CBP Aims to Improve Cargo Clearance at Miami.”

If you want to learn more about future meetings, have in transit cargo on hold by CBP or have any questions generally, contact me at jdiaz@bplegal.com anytime.