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Practice Areas

Progress Being Made Toward Single Window for Trade Data

Monday, November 25, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Federal agencies are making progress in developing the International Trade Data System and the trade community has identified a number of features that should be included, according to a recent report from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection advisory panel. At a Nov. 15 meeting of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of CBP (COAC), the One U.S. Government at the Border Subcommittee provided an update on the status of ITDS efforts and the full committee adopted seven recommendations for further work in this area.

ITDS’ overarching goal is the utilization of the concept commonly known as the Single Window, a system through which traders’ reporting of imports and exports to the applicable federal agencies and those agencies’ subsequent admissibility determinations will all be transmitted electronically. A subcommittee report notes that the current process is costly and time-consuming because it is largely manual and paper-based, with 21 agencies requiring 139 forms for imports and eight agencies requiring 55 forms for exports.

Ongoing Efforts

CBP is conducting a number of initiatives as part of its effort to develop ITDS. According to a report from the 1USG Subcommittee, the current status of these efforts is as follows.

PGA Message Set. The participating government agency message set creates a single, harmonized set of trade-related data collected in the Automated Commercial Environment on behalf of PGAs. CBP is expecting to launch soon two initial pilot tests of the PGA message set in which import data will be collected, validated, extracted and transmitted directly to the appropriate agency. One pilot will involve filers submitting data for vehicles, engines and ozone-depleting substances to the Environmental Protection Agency with respect to ocean shipments at the ports of Newark and Long Beach. The other pilot, which will be conducted at the ports of Champlain (truck), Houston (ocean) and Philadelphia (ocean), will see filers submit data for meat, poultry and egg products to the Food Safety and Inspection Service.

At an ITDS board meeting in June attended by members of the 1USG Subcommittee, all parties agreed that early and timely filing of data for the PGA message set is imperative. At the same time, a mechanism must be in place to allow data correction, and it is understood that CBP supports a full replacement of the data when corrections are required. Concerning recordkeeping requirements for the data submitted to PGAs, the general consensus at the board meeting was that the data is sufficient and that the PGA forms containing the data may not be needed.

PGA Interoperability. This is the pipeline through which data is transmitted between ACE and PGA systems. According to the subcommittee, five agencies – the FSIS, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Coast Guard, the Agricultural Marketing Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service – are currently receiving automated import data from ACE via PGA interoperability and CBP is in the process of onboarding additional agencies. In addition, CBP deployed earlier this month capabilities that streamline the input of findings from inspections conducted by CBP agricultural specialists and use PGA interoperability to seamlessly transmit the data to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, resulting in a workload reduction of 33% for agricultural specialists.

Document Image System. The DIS allows trade users to electronically supply the documents needed during the import and export process. CBP announced last summer an expansion of the DIS pilot that allows additional agency forms to be accepted via the DIS and reduces the data required to accompany the transmitted forms.

Exports. CBP plans to deploy in April 2014 the first phase of a re-engineered Automated Export System that will provide a single window view for CBP, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Industry and Security for export shipments and licensing data. The subcommittee states that this modernized platform will enhance control of federally-licensed shipments, including arms and ammunition, by the inclusion of additional business validations and the ability to electronically decrement various license types for various PGAs. In addition, CBP will transmit export data to Census on a daily basis, eliminating the current weekly extracts of data.


The full COAC approved Nov. 15 the following recommendations, which the 1USG Subcommittee expects to use to determine its plan of work for 2014.

- CBP should accept 1USG unified import filings, including PGA data, up to 30 days prior to the shipment’s departure from the foreign origin. CBP should pass the PGA message set data to the PGA upon receipt, and the PGA should review it for admissibility as early as possible, well in advance of the cargo’s arrival. Upon receipt of 1USG unified import filings, CBP should provide clear, concise and coordinated messaging to the trade on the status of entry release data and PGA data submission through ACE. There should be a consistent message set that, among other things, provides examination information for planning purposes. 

- Trusted trader program participants who submit full advance data should be provided a CBP/PGA cargo release response message (not the anticipated status information received by non-trusted traders) prior to arrival of the cargo, according to a defined and predictable timeline based on mode of transportation. In the absence of a credible threat and/or real evidence of a good’s inadmissibility, shipments for trusted traders should not be delayed or detained based on the mere appearance of a violation without observed evidence of an actual violation.

- CBP, PGAs and the trade community should develop an efficient process to allow timely and early electronic corrections of data, whether or not the information is considered material for admissibility purposes. Entry corrections should be allowed before or after arrival through the ACE corrections and deletions program. The correction of clerical errors should not impact CBP or PGA targeting of trusted traders. In addition, the trade community should be notified if the PGA makes an adjustment or updates the data filed by the trade.

- CBP should work with the PGAs to define the most workable and efficient way to incorporate the relevant PGAs into the Centers for Excellence & Expertise, with the ultimate goals of making admissibility decisions, fostering transparent and standardized decision making to facilitate a predictable supply chain, providing an empowered point of contact to whom issues may be escalated, and facilitating trade education and communication.

- CBP should work with the FDA to provide for electronic notification via ACE when an FDA Notice of Action is issued.

- CBP should encourage PGAs to (a) review the efficiency of their entry release processes, identify clearance bottlenecks and work to reduce those chokepoints and (b) provide admissibility decisions at the time of cargo release.

- CBP should work with the FDA, the CPSC and any other PGA that utilizes CBP’s penalty or liquidated damage systems to define and publish penalty mitigation guidelines for the PGA, taking into account an importer’s trusted trader status.

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