Background

A hurricane that came ashore in Louisiana this week has damaged shipping facilities and closed stretches of the Mississippi River, a vital trade transportation artery. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has issued information on shipments that need to divert to other ports as a result as well as other affected operations.

A Reuters article reports that the hurricane “has disrupted grain and soybean shipments from the Gulf Coast, which accounts for about 60% of U.S. exports, at a time when global supplies are tight.” The article notes that “a roughly 75-mile stretch [of the Mississippi River] remained closed to all vessel traffic due to downed power lines and sunken vessels in the river.” Bloomberg adds that the hurricane resulted in “broken grain elevators, widespread power outages, and shuttered export terminals” in the area, prompting some shippers to shift exports to the Pacific Northwest and possibly “forcing big buyers such as China to look elsewhere.”

Diversions

CBP has identified the following actions that should be taken at the time of a cargo diversion necessary due to hurricane damage.

- If both the entry and summary have already been filed at the original port, nothing needs to be done with either the entry or the summary.

- If a certified summary has already been filed at the original port, nothing needs to be done with it.

- If the entry has already been filed at the original port but the summary has not, the summary should be filed using the same entry port where the entry was filed.

- If neither the entry nor the summary has been filed at the original port, both the entry and summary will be filed at the new (diverted) port.

Alternatively, if the cargo is offloaded at ports in Mexico or Canada for routing into the U.S. via rail or truck instead of being diverted to another U.S. port, manifests will need to be provided by border carriers in the appropriate systems, original entries destined for original U.S. ports will need to be canceled and refiled for the new land border port, or an in-bond move will need to be requested to move the cargo to the port of entry. 

In addition, when diverting to another port or for ships that have already diverted, the new destination port should be sent to this email address.

CBP has advised ports not to penalize carriers for Trade Act violations caused by diversion of cargo.

In-Bond

CBP officers have been instructed to avoid issuing liquidated damage claims against overdue in-bonds due to general supply chain issues and will continue with that policy until conditions ease.

Export

Export filers should be aware of any changes to the transportation data, including date of export and port of export, and be ready to amend as appropriate. Export license expiration dates should also be checked to ensure current validity. Any issues with licenses should be directed to the issuing agency.

Post-Release/Payment

CBP recognizes that although the majority of filings and payments are submitted electronically, some filers may still encounter trade interruptions resulting from the hurricane and other weather-related incidents. If a filer is not able to comply with the entry summary filing or payment deadlines due to the hurricane, they should contact their assigned client representative. CBP will take difficulties caused by the hurricane into account when determining if it is appropriate to pursue liquidated damages for late filings and deposits.

Copyright © 2021 Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.; WorldTrade Interactive, Inc. All rights reserved.

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