The government shutdown: Only tomorrow knows

dusk at the Washington monument

The US has now experienced a Government shutdown for over a month (the longest in US history) and it becomes increasingly important to stay alert for all orders that are entering or leaving the United States by all modes. Since my last post, there have been some status updates to some of the residual effects caused by the US government shutdown. 

As a reminder, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and TSA agents are considered essential personnel and are continuing to operate at ports of entry around the country. However, not all personnel are working, and some requests for data/information are not being addressed during this situation. Other US government agencies are considered essential while some agencies have run out of fundings, therefore requests/inquiries are not be addressed.

As of January 25th, here is the most current recap of transportation-related agencies and the shutdown as it relates to imports

  • CBP employees still working include CEE directors and assistant directors, entry specialists, import specialists, some information technology staff (though not ABI representatives), and Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures staff, but any national account managers have been furloughed.
  • CBP has halted work on rulings (though the eRulings portal is still accepting requests), regulatory audits, and refunds (e.g., drawback, protests, post-summary corrections, though interest will eventually be paid where applicable).
  • CBP is still enforcing deadlines for the trade community (e.g., protest and drawback claims, CF 28/29 responses, Enforce and Protect Act duty evasion proceedings, audits) but its own responses may not be held to normal timelines.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency is largely shut down but CBP has a protocol for handling critical EPA-regulated cargo release issues through the port of entry or CEE officials.
    Food and Drug Administration trade functions such as prior notice processing are continuing to operate.
  • C-TPAT security validation visits/processing do not occur during a shutdown.
  • As for Partner Government Agencies (PGA), cargo release differs depending on the operational capacity of the PGA. If an importer receives a "may proceed" message, the shipment should be good to go. If there are ongoing issues with the shipment, then it may have to be redelivered.  CBP is handling the redeliveries on behalf of the PGAs.
  • CBP is aware of the EPA's formaldehyde rule and is working with EPA on the final list of HTS numbers subject to the rule. However, the HTS list will not be finalized until after the shutdown.
  • There will be no supplemental resources in Miami to handle the influx of flowers imported for Valentine's Day - this could make for a short supply and a large increase in price.
  • CBP indicated that they have contacts (albeit limited) at all PGAs. For example, EPA has a skeleton crew, but there have been no major issues reported. NOAA (Tuna) has been an issue. As with any PGA issues, importers should contact the local port first or myself. If your questions cannot be answered by contacting your Port of Entry or Center of Excellence and Expertise, please email otentrysummary@cbp.dhs.gov.

 

Here is the rundown on exports:

  • 2019 Schedule B Numbers were not incorporated into ACE and a certain group of numbers has caused the rejection of the EEI filings. At this time the government agencies have been notified however an update will not take place until the furlough has ended. Please keep watch of these EEI filings to avoid any delays with cargo loading.
  • No Export licensing (Bureau of Industry Security or State Department) is taking place at this time.
  • No new/amended US export licenses are being actioned at this time, meaning no OFAC, BIS or DDTC licenses are be approved, you are able to move goods under your license exceptions if your commodity and destination qualify under the regulations, please note: ensure great documentation support is in place if you use license exceptions or exemptions with your exports. 

Full moon over capitol hill

Most US Government agencies websites are down or not updated therefore if you are researching or reviewing US regulations please be careful as the details you are seeking may be limited or outdated. Many small to medium-size businesses seeking to get started with exporting will find sites like “export.gov” unavailable, so the only resource available may be World Trade centers or you may contact me with your inquiries or questions. With no resolutions to the shutdown in sight, we in the supply chain world, along with countless other businesses and industries, remain in a holding pattern. 

As always, if you have any specific questions or concerns about your shipments and any possible residual effects of the shutdown, please reach out to me directly.