Month: August 2013

Oakland Terminals Open … But Movement of Containers is Slow

The Oakland terminals were open today as the protesting truck drivers did not return this morning. It looks like we are in the clear… for now.

Our information from drivers is that they have been able to get into all terminals. However the action is slow. Long waits continue. We ask for patience and understanding from importers as truckers try to clear up two days of missed deliveries and terminals/carriers have been unwilling to extend free time.

The new executive director at the Port of Oakland, Chris Lytle, has been working hard to bring a coalition of involved parties (terminal operators, carriers, truckers, the city of Oakland) together to find solutions to the problems that have created all the discontent at the ports. Please see the attached letter that was distributed to various truckers.

The following JOC article pretty much summarizes the experiences at the port of Oakland over the past seven weeks. We understand the frustration of importers and exporters at the port of Oakland. We ask again that they please not shoot the messenger (freight forwards and customs brokers) who are working hard to facilitate the movement of shipments out of ports as quickly as possible.

 

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x1019

Advertisements

Oakland Terminals Update: Open,… but not really?

We’re receiving mixed messages about the Oakland terminals. Oakland law enforcement officers are on site in an attempt to allow drivers past protesters at the terminals. The protesting (angry owner operators) truck drivers did show up this morning for a second day.

As of roughly 10:20am this morning however, we still see very few trucks moving into the terminals.

Cameras from SSA Terminal: I’ve seen a lone truck here and there moving through the terminal.

B58gatewest1 b58security

 

 

 

Cameras from Ben E. Nutter Terminal – There are a few trucks getting through.
stsoakCamera2 stsoakCamera1

 

The key problems we are seeing today are as follows:

1.) Many truck drivers are afraid to drive to the terminals for fear of reprisal from protesters.

2.) The terminals are NOT extending free time. We have importers whose containers are running up against the last free day before storage starts. The terminals are indicating it is not their problem that the containers were not picked up due to protesters. At the same time, new appointment times to pick up containers are often two or more days later, exacerbating the amount of storage charges due.

My import team has indicated to me that we are receiving a number of calls from angry importers. I sympathize with the importers who are unable to get their containers quickly enough. However I do ask that importers not shoot the messenger.

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x1019

More Trouble at the Port of Oakland: Truckers Protesting

Having spent the past month dealing with extremely heavy congestion at the port of Oakland due to terminal consolidation, longshoremen issues, and an increase in ISF related examinations, we were hoping to see a gradual return to normalcy in the coming weeks. While we were still seeing delays and uneven handling of containers at the terminals, we were starting to see some containers move out of the terminals in a more normal manner last week.

As of early this morning, various groups of truck drivers have been protesting at terminals in Oakland. SSA terminal and Ports of America have already shut down for the day due to the protests. One trucking company has advised us that there is a protest at one of the yards where drivers store their trucks overnight. This particular group of protesters is preventing drivers from getting to their trucks.

We’re still trying to see whether other terminals will also shut down. We will provide additional updates as we receive them.

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x1019

The Reality of ISF Enforcement and What it Means for Importers

We’ve been waiting for a couple of years for active ISF enforcement. Apparently Customs has finally decided to get tough on ISF filings. The decision to start more strictly enforcing ISF filings was an apparent reaction to the big drop in ISF compliance in the beginning of the year. Customs apparently saw a decrease in ISF compliance from the mid 90 percentile to the 80 percentile range.

 

What we have seen in the past year or two is that shipments with ISF non-compliance were at a greater risk of an x-ray (NII – Non-Intrusive Inspection) exam. However this was by no means consistent, nor were we ever informed specifically that Customs was examining the shipment because of ISF non-compliance. As of July 15th, we have seen the following:

  • The port of Oakland started making use of newly activated cargo hold abilities for shipments that were non-compliant. All shipments are now required to be compliant and will be held until they come into compliance.
  • We have seen a dramatic increase in x-ray / NII exams. Almost every shipment with ISF non-compliance is marked for an x-ray exam. In fact, we are now able to see through our Customs Entry messaging whether the exam is being held due to ISF non-compliance. We have in only a few instances been able to mediate and prevent the exam.
  • The exam sites around the United States, not just Oakland, have been extremely busy due to the sudden increase in x-ray exams. In Oakland, where most of the x-ray exams are done at the terminals, we have seen delays extending past the normal five free days of storage time. The terminals have been offering free time extensions in these cases. We received a message today from Price Transfer’s exam site in Los Angeles that Customs is only today (August 7th) working on examining containers that in-gated at their facility on July 31st. That is a full 7-8 day delay!
  • We have NOT yet seen the any liquidated damage claims from Customs although they have made it very explicit that they will begin assessing penalties of up to $5000 per violation.

What can importers take away from the new realities of ISF enforcement?

  1. Make sure the ISF is being filed ON TIME. This requires getting the ISF information in a timely manner so that it can be filed 24 hours prior to vessel departure.
  2. Expect longer delays at the ports when your shipments are scheduled for an x-ray / NII exam. This is regardless of whether the exam is a result of ISF non-compliance or some other reason. The sheer number of x-ray exams due to ISF non-compliance has resulted in dramatic increase in the number of days it takes to complete the exams.
  3. As the number of shipments increase along with the urgency of those shipments during the peak shipping months, it becomes even more paramount for importers to make sure they have their Customs documentation and information clear, organized, and on time for ISF and Customs entry filing in order to avoid what we can expect to see is a congested Customs exam system.

– Jimmy Ting

Great World Customs Service

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x.1019

MUST READ for Food Importers: FDA Publishes Proposed Rule for Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food

This is posting is a MUST READ for importers of food products (whether for humans or animals).

1.) The FDA published on July 26, 2013 a set of proposed regulations meant to help ensure that imported food meets the same level of public health protection as that required of domestic food producers. In doing so, they have created a proposed program (Food Safety Verification Program) that I believe will put a great burden on the food importing community.

The FSVP required importers to conduct audits and keep records of their suppliers. There are various exceptions.  However most medium and large importers of food products will be required to greatly increase the record keeping of their food imports. The FDA has published a number of diagrams/flow charts that help explain to importers the possible required tasks they will have to follow. I highly recommend that importers familiarize themselves with the rules. 

The potential impact of the rules is quite vast. I expect larger importers with strong relationships with large food manufacturers probably will be able to implement the FSVP the most smoothly. While they will have the most work to do, they will also have the manpower, expertise, and relationships necessary to make sure the FSVP is implemented. I am most worried for mid-sized and especially smaller food importers.

 

2.) FDA also published a proposed rule for Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors. What importers should understand is how FDA proposes to use 3rd party auditors. Thus far, they have mentioned three possible uses:

  • FDA is expected to create a Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP) which is expected to allow for expedited review and entry of food into the United States. Such a program may be welcome news to importers who are tired of the length of time it is taking FDA to currently process entries. Under FDA’s proposed regulation, importers would have to import from certified facilities (reviewed by the accredited third-party auditors).
  • FDA will have the power to required manufactures be certified by accredited third-party auditors as a condition of entry if FDA deems the product is a safety risk.
  • FDA also expects that importers may voluntarily begin to rely on third-party auditors as a progress of complying the the FSVP even in instances where it is not a requirement to use a third-party auditor.

Keep in mind that the rules mentioned above are only “proposed” regulations. Now is the time for importers to put in their comments.

– Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x1019

 

 

GSP Expiration

GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) expired on July 31, 2013.  We now have to wait over a month (until the second week of September) for Congress to reconvene and hopefully take up the issue of extending GSP. There is no guarantee that Congress will renew GSP.

 

Importers who were relying on GSP duty savings will begin to see their products entered dutiable under Column 1 general duty rates.  For entries that would have benefited from GSP, we are marking the entries to make sure that they will be automatically reprocessed should Congress eventually renew GSP with retroactive benefits. We do recommend that importers keep detailed records of which entries they are paying duties on so that when/if Customs does refund duty payments, importers receive the appropriate amount back.

 

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x1019