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Hurry Up…and Wait

The border between Canada and the US remains a vast and concrete physical entity, but the "border" in the figurative sense also looms ever-larger as Customs administrators on both sides continue to up the regulatory burden imposed on all supply...


The border between Canada and the US remains a vast and concrete physical entity, but the “border” in the figurative sense also looms ever-larger as Customs administrators on both sides continue to up the regulatory burden imposed on all supply chain stakeholders.

The aim? A world of smoother trade flows, and harmonized regulatory regimes, with attention paid to perimeter security, of course.

The path to getting there? Probably anything but the smoothest.

Ruth Snowden, executive director at the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA), remembers meetings with Canada Customs officials in the 1990s when talk of release decisions prior to arrival at the border was still a vague concept.

Advance to 2010, and the now Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will soon begin accepting electronic manifests containing cargo and conveyance data, (first from highway carriers), with electronic transmission of the carrier data mandatory one year after the CBSA’s planned Web portal becomes available.

“We’re almost ‘cleared to land’ on eManifest, having come down from a 37,000-ftlevel,’ said Oryst Dydynsky, vice-president of cross border and regulatory affairs with the Descartes Systems Group and a consultant on many CBSA committees.

Dydynsky spoke recently at the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters 19th Annual Conference and Trade Show on Emerging Issues in Customs and Compliance.

“The movement of data and documents has become more important than the movement of the goods themselves. The documents are still going to be there, but they will move differently,” he said.

While the Advanced Commercial Information (ACI) Highway eManifest was scheduled to begin this month, CBSA recently indicated that a delay to implementation would be necessary, with testing by industry available this month and the actual project launch delayed to September.

Highway carriers have already expressed concerns about policy, from the inbond movement of goods, to end-state design issues such as changes and amendments, to manifest information post-arrival.

“CTA supports getting it right the first time with realistic deadlines,” said Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley.

Jason Proceviat, acting director of the stakeholder consultation and implementation division at the CBSA, said that the agency, the oldest serving government department in Canada, has moved from a revenue focus to the provision of integrated border services, health, safety and security.

“This new mandate has changed the game and direction for us. We don’t act unilaterally -we administer about 90 pieces of different legislation and over 40 programs at the border,” he said.

eManifest aims to deal with volume issues.

“This whole project is about implementing those tools to enable us to do that,” said Proceviat of one of the largest projects CBSA has undertaken, and which is supported by Bill S2 Customs Act legislation, which received Royal Assent in June of 2009.

“This will have impacts if you are not prepared and are not ready. We recognize there will be investments for companies, and these may be significant for the SMEs. If you feel that eManifest is not for you, you will have options,” he said.

CBSA is developing an enhanced automated risk assessment infrastructure (business intelligence technology and a data warehouse), with an eManifest portal reporting option, an integrated passage system, and the incorporation of transponder technology. A Web portal, similar to those using ACE from the US, will be available to those needing tools. The portal will be “free of charge,” but there will be costs relating to data entry, with regard to having staff to enter the data and someone to monitor any error messages.

“Our desire is to harmonize as much as possible with US Customs and Border Protection. We recognize that the US has transponder technology that we’d also like to implement as a harmonization effort,” said Proceviat.

Stakeholders may transmit advance information to Customs through EDI systems or the eManifest portal. They can also use a VAN (value added network), a public EDI network, a third-party service provider, or the Customs Internet gateway (CIG), which provides trade chain partners with a direct connection to the CBSA.


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