April 15, 2014

CBP’s Approach to CEEs Continues to Evolve

By Kathleen M. Murphy, Beata K. Sphuler and Mollie D. Sitkowski

On March 28, 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) posted an updated version of its procedures for its Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs) in response to a recent Federal Register notice and policy shifts by its headquarters. Importantly, CBP formalized its announcement that it will shift processing of all electronics, pharmaceuticals, and petroleum entries to their respective CEEs, regardless of whether the importers of those entries are participating in those CEEs.

The Trade Process Document (the Document) provides guidance on “Filer Responsibilities” and “Revenue Collection,” as well as the new entry types which are being shifted to the CEEs. This guidance is much more practical than the Federal Register notices; although, to the extent that any guidance in the Document conflicts with the Federal Register notices, the notices control.

The Document details how to submit entry summaries using the Document Imaging System and where revenue should be sent. In essence, where revenue is due, the payment or ACH receipt should be sent to the port rather than the CEE. The document also details the process for the rejection of a participating account’s entry summary; it describes the process for Foreign Trade Zone, Trade Fair, and Temporary Importations under Bond entries.

At the recent International Compliance Professionals Association conference in Orlando Florida, Anne Maricich, the Director of the Electronics CEE, spoke regarding the evolution of the CEEs. Currently, the Electronics CEE processes 30 percent of the electronics entries and has accepted participants that are Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) certified, even if they are not members of the Importer Self-Assessment (ISA) Program (previously the CEEs had only been accepting participants who were members of both). She stated that the Apparel, Footwear and Textiles CEE and the Base Metals CEE are also accepting participants that are C-TPAT certified but not in ISA.

This move toward accepting participants who are C-TPAT certified, yet not members of ISA highlights CBP’s general move toward a broader Trusted Trader program that combines the C-TPAT and ISA programs. Trade professionals have anxiously awaited CBP’s formal announcement in the Federal Register concerning the Trusted Trader pilot. However, Elena Ryan, CBP Director of the CEEs Transition Team, indicated recently that the announcement would be delayed due to legal reviews. Ms. Ryan also spoke regarding additional processes for the CEEs that have been delayed, including customs broker permits and broker management.

For more information on how CBP’s evolving approach to CEEs will affect your company or the anticipated Trusted Trader program, please contact one of the authors listed above or any other member of Drinker Biddle’s Customs and International Trade Team.

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