Trade Community Upbeat on CBP Centers of Excellence and Expertise in Initial Survey
Trade community members who have utilized the Centers of Excellence and Expertise being opened by U.S. Customs and Border Protection have largely had a positive experience, according an initial survey of CEE users conducted in March. Just over half the 769 survey respondents identified themselves as importers, and the industries most represented among respondents were textiles, apparel and footwear; industrial and manufacturing materials; and consumer products and mass merchandising.
Of the nine percent of survey respondents who are currently CEE participating account members, 54% are also members of the Importer Self-Assessment program and 100% are participating in the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Three-quarters of these respondents said they were very satisfied, and over 96% had their issues resolved, after contacting a CEE. Most said they contact the CEEs a few times a year, often to discuss C-TPAT questions and procedures, and their primary trade facilitation concerns include cargo holds and CBP requests for information (CF-28s). In addition, most respondents said they have seen benefits such as fast shipment delay resolutions, direct contact with CBP and transparency into CBP requirements.
The survey revealed similar information on the 21% of respondents that are CEE non-participating account members. These respondents primarily contact CEEs about C-TPAT questions and procedures, CBP holds and release times, and exams, and their top trade facilitation concerns were also CF-28s and cargo holds. Nearly 20% reached out to CEEs on compliance issues and 61% of those said they received adequate assistance. Benefits cited included one-point contact and transparency into CBP requirements.
In addition, survey respondents:
- ranked the ability to file all required import data electronically in one location (single window) as their greatest partner government agency facilitation desire;
- recommended that CBP expand Industry Working Group membership and provide risk assessments and CEE metrics, or returns on investment, to CEE users;
- suggested that CBP maintain an open CEE environment where customers can discuss potential compliance issues, increase customer awareness, share compliance best practices and integrate PGAs into the CEEs;
- encouraged CBP to offer expanded opportunities within the CEEs even without membership in CBP trusted trader programs;
- said CBP should enhance current CEE account-based management by considering expedited clearance for CEE-managed accounts, providing updates and guidance on compliance issues and sharing industry metrics; and
- suggested that CEEs act as an ombudsman on behalf of PGA holds/delays.