- Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) will have until Dec. 9 to secure their transition to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), American Shipper reports.
- Originally scheduled for Sept. 16, Acting Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said the agency delayed the implementation due to industry feedback as well as concerns over customs agents' ability to transition in hurricane-affected FTZs.
- The transition to the ACE will continue through Feb. 24, 2018. Beginning Sept. 16, the ACE will begin duty deferral forms and Importer Security Filings, while statements, Manufacturer ID Creation and now electronic FTZ admissions (e214) will join the portal in December.
Digitization may be a buzzword in 2017, but delays in ACE-implementation show just how difficult the process can be in reality.
The ACE is the CBP's version of a single-window system, wherein the U.S. government can track, control and process all imports and exports through a modern platform. For shippers, this has the benefit of removing paper-based procedures, and streamlining regulatory processes. "ACE should offer enhanced cargo security, faster release, and improved reporting for those shippers that can get control of their master data," according to Nathan Pieri, chief product officer for Amber Road, a global trade solutions provider.
The U.S. is not the only country embracing single-window initiatives. Customs regimes around the world consistently experiment on the best way to track cargo, but the rise of digitization has made unified platforms a popular option. The European Union explored a single-window option for maritime transport in 2015, for example, and rumors surrounding a cross-border single-window initiative surfaced as a trade-facilitation initiative that could be achieved by NAFTA. Most recently, globally-integrated trade took a big leap with the World Trade Organization's Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entering force, bringing 112 countries together on customs standards.
However, "global trade is inherently hard and when you look at these single window initiatives from around the world, the complexities usually translate to higher levels of investment and time to fully deliver," Pieri told Supply Chain Dive. "As with any large scale IT project you have many stakeholders, shifting requirements, and changes in technology mid-stream. So, (delays are) par for the course."
American Shipper reports the main concern for FTZ's transition to single-window was that it had not been tried and tested throughout the entire process. As a result, FTZ's feared a small glitch could undermine the entire process. Bumps along the road are to be expected, but all concur the initiative will eventually lead to progress.
A year ago, Humberto Caballero of the El Paso and Ciudad Juarez based Caballero Agentes Aduanales & Customs Brokers exchanged a few e-mails with Supply Chain Dive on the issue. “ACE has some faults that must be corrected and methods they have to ‘digitalize’ like some export processes among others,” said Caballero. “In Mexico we have had it since 2013 and it’s been a process with a lot of headaches and issues to be resolved, but commerce has been expedited.”
But, “at the end of the day all actors need to adapt to change as we have no other option," he added.