Date: Mar 13, 2012
U.S. Customs has informally notified industry groups that, in the second quarter of this year, it will pursue a new initiative to reduce the burdens on chemical imports and expedite their entry into the country. Customs plans to expand the activities of its "Center of Excellence" covering pharmaceutical import issues to chemical import issues as well. The center has a staff that aims to coordinate the Customs chemical expertise around the country and that is meant to become a central resource for fielding import issues affecting the chemical industry. The center's staff is also meant to review entries for all "trusted partners" in the chemical industry. Customs should be contacting companies in that category soon to inform them of this initiative.
To be a "trusted partner" an importer must participate in the "Customs - Trade Partnership Against Terrorism" ("C-TPAT") and the "Importer Self-Assessment Program" ("ISA"). These are existing Customs programs that require importers to implement particular import compliance and security programs in exchange for faster import clearance and fewer audits. Now, with a dedicated staff to review a qualifying chemical importer's entries, Customs is expected to clear those entries even faster. In particular, the dedicated staff should be available to help address issues in any port that might result in delays or detention. Even if an importer is not part of C-TPAT or ISA, it can contact the center for assistance.
Whether Customs will meet its goals in the second quarter is, of course, uncertain. A dedicated chemical import staff could, however, be a very valuable resource. The potential of this center would also create more value for C-TPAT and ISA participants. In addition, Customs says it will need chemical industry importers to help educate the center's staff so that they concentrate their efforts on the most critical issues. We will be working with industry groups to organize resources for such training. Please feel free to share your ideas with us in that regard.