A private sector group recently raised concerns about the trade community’s readiness to meet the Nov. 1 deadline for mandatory filing of all electronic entries and corresponding entry summaries in the Automated Commercial Environment. The Trade Support Network, a group of importers, customs brokers, self-filers, forwarders, shippers, consultants, trade associations and software service providers that has been working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the development and deployment of ACE, told CBP and participating government agency officials at a June 23-25 meeting in Washington, D.C., that while the trade generally supports CBP’s aggressive push to transition from ACS to ACE, there is still a sense of unease about the significant changes required to meet the Nov. 1 deadline.

A TSN press release notes that CBP “has made amazing progress with ACE applications development and deployment over the past several years” due to the efforts of the ACE Business Office and the adoption of the Agile methodology for software development, which has given CBP the ability to develop code that can be deployed into ACE production without waiting for the entire application to be completed.

However, there are still some areas of concern. For example, ACE entry summary has been available since 2009, but with only four months left before the Nov. 1 deadline only 60 percent of ACE entry summaries are filed through ACE, a number that falls to less than 10 percent for ACE cargo release. CBP’s goal is to target 200 of the top filers and urge them to start filing in ACE, but this is less than 10 percent of all filers. In addition, companies are worried that there will be insufficient time to fully integrate ACE cargo release and entry summary with all the new PGA data element requirements into their upstream and downstream business processes. The TSN therefore warned that “blind adherence to the mandated date has a real potential to create serious economic disruptions to businesses and international commerce in general.”

CBP encouraged the trade to vigorously test in the ACE certification environment so it can continue to build metrics to measure CBP and trade readiness, which it is assessing in real time. However, neither CBP nor TSN indicated whether the Nov. 1 deadline could be pushed back if at some point that readiness is determined to be insufficient.

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