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Broker-Known Importer Program Offers Another Option to Expedite Shipments

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has announced the implementation of the Broker-Known Importer Program, which offers an additional avenue to enhance the sharing of trade intelligence between importers and brokers and between the trade community and CBP. With a limited number of importers expected to avail themselves of the Importer Self-Assessment and Trusted Trader programs, BKIP offers a way for CBP to use the importer-broker relationship to further identify reputable importers and thus narrow the field of actors on which it focuses its enforcement resources. However, it is unclear at this point exactly how CBP plans to use the BKIP and whether many brokers will participate.

Under this voluntary program, licensed customs brokers work with their importer clients to review in greater depth their import programs in the context of import regulations. A review should cover issues such as antidumping and countervailing duties, intellectual property rights, classification and valuation, free trade agreements and preference programs, country of origin, marking and supply chain security as well as documentation and information requirements for customs clearance, recordkeeping and drawback. Brokers may not rely on reviews conducted by other brokers and must redo their reviews periodically. Reviews are thus expected to result in increased compliance understanding on the part of importers as well as improved entry accuracy.

The broker uses an electronic indicator on the entry (functionality that has already been deployed in the Automated Commercial Environment) to signal to CBP that the importer is known to the broker and that the review has taken place. This indicator will factor into CBP’s cargo risk segmentation, which may improve the importer’s risk profile in CBP’s targeting system and thus help expedite shipments at the time of arrival. Additional benefits under this program may also be extended to importers in the future.

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg member Lenny Feldman said he feels BKIP is a good idea conceptually, particularly for small and mid-sized importers that CBP may not be as familiar with. ST&R senior director, customs and international trade, Tom Gould added that it could prompt brokers to improve their efforts to get to know their importer clients. Feldman said he is hopeful that CBP will provide more guidance on how it views BKIP and what practical effects it may have. For example, Gould noted, some brokers have said they will automatically send the BKIP indicator for some of their larger and already known importers, but it appears that CBP prefers that the indicator be used more judiciously. At one recent meeting CBP officials suggested that a broker might transmit the BKIP indicator for an importer’s entries filed in one port but not for entries filed in another port if the broker is not familiar with the importer’s at the latter location.

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