New Move Towards Streamlining Import/Export Filings

The newest official step in streamlining the import and export process came with a declaration by the government recently.  On February 19, 2014, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13659.  The EO was published in the Federal Register on February 25, 2014 in volume 79, number 37.

The EO is a concrete governmental issuance that is creating a deadline for agencies to implement a single portal for import and export filings.  The single portal is known as the International Trade Data System (ITDS).  The ITDS concept was established by Section 405 of the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006.  In an effort to solidify the creation of the consolidated portal, the EO has set a deadline of December 31, 2016 for the portal to become active.

Currently, businesses must submit import and export data through various government agencies.  The range of agencies involved imposes a variety of technical filing requirements, which is time consuming for a business to navigate, as well as overwhelming.  Typically, the filings are also often done in paper form by smaller and medium sized companies. The ITDS will make a concerted effort to help these companies, who may not otherwise have sophisticated trade compliance departments, to efficiently submit filings.

As part of implementing the ITDS by the 2016 deadline, participating agencies must have the systems in place to use the ITDS as the primary means of receiving certain data, and other relevant documentation, required for the release and clearance of imported cargo for export.  Also, the Department of Homeland Security must confirm that the ITDS has the operational capabilities to enable users to transmit a harmonized set of import and export data to fulfill U.S. government requirements for the release and clearance of goods.

The EO also requires the ITDS Board of Directors to define the standard set of import and export data elements to be collected. The Board will also periodically review those data elements to update them as necessary, and are required to make a timetable of implementation available to the public, as well as agency implementation plans and schedules.

The Executive Order also establishes the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC).  The BIEC will develop management procedures to encourage compliance with relevant regulations, streamline Federal Government systems to reduce cost, engage with stakeholders to improve supply chain management, and assess opportunities to facilitate electronic payments of duties and fees upon importation. The BIEC will also encourage other countries to establish a similar single portal system, to help facilitate trade and relevant data sharing across international borders.  The BIEC must deliver a report on the implementation of its various functions by July 1, 2014, and then annually until July 2016.

By Jennifer Horvath, Attorney