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Trade and Travel Letter to CBP Industry Colleagues

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Cargo Priorities under Sequestration

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /< /span>

Using lessons learned from the impact of previous trade disruptions, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and trade stakeholders strive to improve our business resilience strategy to secure the supply chain and facilitate legitimate trade and travel. As a roadmap for effective prevention and recovery, the following framework seeks to minimize the impact of trade disruptions:

  • Improving the automated systems and processes for receiving advance information on cargo and passengers and using that information for targeting terrorism risks or other threats;
  • Modernizing our commercial operations, and working with our trade partners to secure the nation and to keep commerce flowing;
  • Integrating other government agencies into our risk-based strategy and into a seamless process that is both efficient and effective; and
  • Working with other countries to secure the global trade lanes and with the World Customs Organization to promote a global and more unified approach to supply chain security.

In the face of sequestration, CBP has identified the following information to be critical for business resumption:

  • Companies that participate in CBP partnership and modernization initiatives, such as Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS), will continue to have access to their respective CBP point of contacts. This would include supply chain security specialists, account managers, and Center of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) personnel, to assist with any inquiries. Providing such access to our Trade partners that have invested time and resources to participate in CBP programs is important to CBP.
  • Recognizing the significance of sufficient communication channels, CBP will hold national-level weekly telephone conference calls. The Office of Field Operations (OFO) and Office of International Trade (OT) Headquarters staff, coordinated through the Office of Trade Relations, will engage cargo industry stakeholders to discuss any trade issues that may be the result of sequestration.
  • CBP will ensure that its core antiterrorism mission is not compromised. Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) serve a critical role in this mission and will continue to be used at their current rate. However, industry stakeholders should note that there may be some delays in cargo processing.
  • Due to the nature of the type of cuts the sequestration demands, there will be no special procedures for conveyance diversions. Unlike the business resumption plan during Hurricane Sandy, all ports will be operating with reduced resources, providing no realistic gain for conveyance diversions.
  • CBP is continuing to coordinate with other U.S. government agencies to assess how the sequestration plans of other agencies will impact the flow of international trade. For example, CBP identified that the sequestration plan of the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) may not have a significant impact on trade transactions at the port level.

In preparation for operating under sequestration, CBP has redirected resources toward only the most critical, core functions within (OFO) and has discontinued or postponed certain important but less critical activities in an effort to reduce budget expenditures. The mandated across-the-board spending cuts took effect on March 1, 2013. The cuts tied to the sequestration will be made equally across our agency, with no preference by port of arrival. The first, immediate cuts will reduce overtime beginning March 1st, and personnel furloughs may begin in mid-April. CBP managers at the field offices and ports of entry conducted an in-depth analysis of their operations to identify any current activities, duties, and hours of operation that could be adjusted to mitigate the impact of the significant reductions in expenditures mandated b y the sequester. However, given the magnitude of the reductions, we currently estimate that there may potentially be delays up to several hours at land border crossings, passenger processing times may increase by about 50 percent, and there may be up to an additional five days added to cargo inspections at ocean ports of entry.

Once furloughs commence, there may be more risk-based adjustments made regarding other inspections, with less impact to trusted travelers and trusted traders. There could be some eventual delays in providing advice and rulings. Additionally, strategic initiatives such as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and the rollout of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) may be impacted.

Advice for Importers

  • Pre-filing Entry Data – While not all importers are participating in CBP trade facilitation initiatives, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of pre-filing entry information. Pre-filing the entry gives CBP and other federal agencies an opportunity to conduct risk assessments and resolve outstanding issues before the cargo arrives in the United States and allows agencies to provide the trade with a release decision as early as possible.
  • Perishable Commodities – CBP will continue to process perishable commodities as a top cargo priority.
  • Other Government Agencies – CBP will work with its partner government agencies that have oversight responsibilities for import and export shipments to minimize the disruption caused by sequestration.
  • CBP Partnership Programs – At this time there are no plans to eliminate or reduce trade facilitation benefits for CBP trusted trader participants. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) members will continue to receive priority (“front-of-the-line”) treatment for examinations. As a tangible benefit for the substantial efforts taken to secure the supply chain, C-TPAT companies are 4-6 times less likely to undergo an inspection. During the first 30 days of the sequestration (March 1-30) we expect minimal delays. However, once the furloughs commence, delays will impact shipments for trusted partners that have been designated for examination.
  • Communication – CBP is committed to ongoing communication with the trade community, both at the national level and through communication at the port level, as port directors reach out to their local stakeholder groups. Additionally, CBP managed accounts have their assigned CBP account managers to assist them with any issues that arise and the CEE staff to provide guidance.

Please note that due to the fact that CBP will redirect all available resources to the most critical core functions, non-mission critical expenditures such as travel and training will be curtailed. While regrettable, this means that trade stakeholders should not plan on attendance by CBP personnel (or as a speaker) for conferences or meetings in the near to mid-term. CBP will ensure to keep conference and meeting hosts apprised as conditions develop.

Questions and Responses Regarding the Impact of Sequestration on Imports

U.S. Customs & Border Protection / 

1. How is CBP communicating information to stakeholders about the effects of the sequestration?

Response: CBP port management will be reaching out to advise stakeholders of any changes in port operations, including procedures for shipment specific inquiries and hours of service. Companies that participate in CBP initiatives and programs such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), Importer Self-Assessment (ISA), and Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEE) may also reach out to CBP staff such as supply chain security specialists, account managers, and CEE personnel who may assist with inquiries.

At the national level, OFO and the Office of International Trade (OT) Headquarters staff will participate in weekly telephone conference calls, coordinated through the Office of Trade Relations, with cargo industry stakeholders to address the impacts of the sequester on imported shipments. As part of the weekly conference call, OFO, OT, and industry stakeholders will discuss modifications to this document to address impacts caused by sequestration.

2. What impact will the sequestration have on CBP radiation portal monitors (RPM) staffing?

Response: CBP will ensure that its core antiterrorism mission is not compromised. OFO will carry out its responsibilities to prevent the entry of terrorists and/or terrorist weapons into the United States, and under no circumstances will CBP abdicate or diminish our commitment to this critical aspect of our responsibilities. CBP port directors will determine the extent to which budgetary reductions will impact CBP RPM staffing hours of operation and notify trade stakeholders accordingly. The budget reductions for overtime expenses which take effect on March 1 will impact some CBP ports’ ability to staff RPM locations. Once personnel furloughs commence, staffing resources will be further reduced.

3. What affect will sequestration have on CBP’s ability to respond to other trade disruptions (natural disasters, labor disputes, etc.) during sequestration?

Response: CBP field locations have continuity of operation plans that provide for a response to more than one incident at a time. In the event of an additional event that results in a trade disruption, CBP will engage with industry stakeholders to coordinate an appropriate response.

4. Will there be any special procedures for conveyance diversions during sequestration?

Response: Unlike a trade disruption caused by natural events, the cuts tied to the sequestration would be made equally across the agency, with no preference by port of arrival. Since CBP ports of entry will not be closed, there will be no special procedures for conveyance diversions. Since all ports will be operating with reduced resources, diversions would likely be an expense without any realistic gain. Under existing procedures, conveyance diversions are reported to the port director.

5. Will CBP be requiring vessel masters arriving directly from foreign locations to wait until business hours to process crew and passengers?

Response: CBP port directors will be reaching out to advise stakeholders of any changes in the procedures for processing conveyances that arrive outside the hours of service.

6. What effect will the sequestration have on shipments designated for examination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? 

Response: OFO will continue to perform the required cargo inspections of regulated perishables with associated conditions of entry based on plant pest risks identified by USDA. CBP is working with other partner agencies (PGA) to assess the impact of those PGA’s sequestration plans CBP strongly encourages continued dialogue between trade stakeholders and the local partner agency points of contact for specific information on the impacts of the sequestration.

FTC Warns Small Businesses: Don’t Open Email Falsely Claiming to be From FTC

Federal Trade Commission   /

[March 4] The Federal Trade Commission is warning small businesses:  An email that pretends to be from the FTC with “NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT” in the subject line is not from the FTC.

The email falsely states that a complaint has been filed against their company.  It contains a link to consumer complaints, a link to contact the FTC, and an FTC telephone number – but the email is fake.

The FTC’s advice:

  • Do not open the email
  • If you have opened it, do not click any links or attachments because they may install a virus or other spyware on your computer.
  • Delete the email.

To learn more about malicious software (malware), visit

United States of America and the Republic of Iraq Announce Progress on Entry into Force of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement

U.S. Department of United States Trade Represenetative /

Baghdad – The United States and Iraq today announced that the bilateral United States-Iraq Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), first negotiated in 2005, is likely to enter into force later this year, providing a bilateral forum devoted to fostering greater trade and investment between our two countries. The announcement follows the Iraq Council of Representatives’ recent ratification of the TIFA text and bilateral meetings in Baghdad this week.

After an exchange of diplomatic notes brings the TIFA into force later this year, the first meeting of the Joint Council for bilateral consultations on trade and investment issues can take place in 2014. Intended to continue efforts to improve the economic relationship between the United States and Iraq, Joint Council meetings will provide a permanent forum for annual senior-level discussions on trade and economic issues including services, transparency, worker rights and intellectual property.

Two-way trade between the United States and Iraq in 2012 was $21.3 billion, with U.S. exports to Iraq at $2.04 billion, and Iraqi exports to the United States at $19.3 billion. Over the past several years, U.S. companies in the energy, defense, information technology, automotive, and transportation sectors have become increasingly active in Iraq.

More Than $14M of Fake Handbags Seized by CBP in L.A.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection /

Los Angeles — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex seized 1,500 high-fashion leather handbags bearing counterfeit “Hermès” listed trademark. Had the goods been genuine, the seized handbags would have an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $14,100,000.

The merchandise, which arrived from China in two shipments, was seized by CBP officers on February 12 and 26.

“Once again, this seizure demonstrates the high level of skill and vigilance of our officers in protecting the intellectual property rights of companies and individuals, as well as, preventing the proliferation of counterfeit luxury handbags, potentially damaging our national economy,” remarked Todd C. Owen, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Director of Field Office Los Angeles.

Approximately $1.26 billion worth of counterfeit goods originating overseas were seized by CBP in 2012. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India and Taiwan are the top five countries of origination for counterfeit goods seized by CBP.

Nationwide, handbags and wallets comprised the greatest number of counterfeit items seized by CBP last year, with the value of seizures up 142 percent compared to 2011. Of the approximately $511 million in handbags and wallets seized, more than $446 million came from China.

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