Major ACE filing challenge ahead after second deadline cleared

The second filing for US Customs and Border Protection’s new electronic filing system came and went last weekend without major issues.

Last weekend deadline was only for a fraction of the total filers that will be required to onboard this year. The trade industry and Customs eyes are now firmly fixed on the upcoming June 15, 2016 filing deadline for the Food and Drug Administration, the largest partner government agency involved and one that by many accounts has struggled the most with the transition.

It’s been an ironic start for the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) designed with the intent of streamlining cross border trade and allowing shippers to easily transmit document to government agencies saving time and money. The system now three times behind schedule, twice delayed and more than $1billion over budget has been notoriously plagued with issues.

“Nevertheless, the May 28 milestone passed successfully with filing rates remaining consistent with prior weekends and processed normally, Customs spokesman, Katrina Skinner said.

Over the weekend, Customs reached a new daily high for ACE entry filings which hit 84 percent of Customs target for all ACE filers. The daily high for entry summary filings however has remained at 98 percent.

It was a relief after the initial roll out of Customs new Automated Commercial Environment was riddled with system errors and glitches while slowdowns continue to plague the system in the days preceding Saturday’s rollout.

“Unlike some previous rollover dates, the transition went relatively seamless with minimal errors,” says Director of Research Development at Global Logistics software developer Descartes System, Fany Flores- Pastor.

The process was more than likely made easier by the small size of the filers required to onboard over the weekend. Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) users represent a much smaller portion of entry filers than those that came online in April, Flores Pastor said.

After the relatively early transition into the next phase of ACE this past weekend, Flore- Pastor said her eyes are on the looming deadline for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) filers.

“Our eyes are more closely fixed on what some may consider the most significant milestone on June 15. With FDA flagged shipments, some of the more complex to import, the June transition is more of a true test of the ACE system of record as it approaches maturity,” she said.

The FDA was originally assigned a to- be –determined date sometimes later in the second quarter and May 28 was originally set to be the deadline for no fewer  than a dozen Partner Government Agencies (PGA’s).

The FDA however is now expected to meet a fast approaching June 15 deadline, while those other PGA’s will now be required to file and have their corresponding shippers file in the ACE portal later in the second quarter on an as yet- unspecified date according to Customs.

They include the Agriculture Marketing Service; Bureau of Alcohol; Tobacco;  Firearms and Explosives; Centre for Disease Control; Consumer Product Safety Commission;  Defence Contract Management Agency; Directorate of Defence Trade Controls; Drug Enforcement Administration; Enforcement and Compliance Commission;  Environmental Protection Agency; Fish and Wildlife Service; Food Safety and Inspection Service; Foreign Agricultural Service, National Marine Fisheries Service; Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Office of Marine Conservation; Office of Textiles and Apparel; Alcohol and Tobacco; Tax and Trade Bureau and United States Trade Representative.


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