Start using ACE voluntarily, Customs specialists’ advice

Procrastinating importers and exporters who cheered the latest delay in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mandatory use of the Automated Commercial Environment  (ACE) for filing documentation are only hurting themselves if they don’t start using ACE when it becomes voluntary on November 1, Customs specialists say.

The start of mandatory filing under ACE has been pushed back from November 1, to next year February 28, 2016. ACE offers benefits to the trade community such as smoothing information flow between companies and the 50-plus federal government agencies that are involved in processing trade documentation. ACE also opens up better lines of communication between service providers such as customs brokers and forwarders and importers and exporters.

“This is our year for ACE,” Pat Fosberry, Corporate Export Transportation Manager, told the annual South Carolina International Trade Conference. After waiting 20 years for implementation of Customs’ electronic trade platform, an additional wait of four months is rather easy to take.

In her blog last week, Los Angeles Customs and trade attorney, Sue Ross said it was good that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) delayed key roll-out dates for ACE until next year. She said the federal agencies that process trade documentation, and many companies in the trade community, were simply not ready for full implementation.

As of now, the use of ACE is ‘allowed and encouraged’ for the electronic filing of entries and entry summaries beginning November 1.

“The trade community will share the benefits. Importers will be able to file data much sooner in the process than they do now, and a wealth of trade data will be available for all participants in the importing and exporting process.

“The trade community, however, should also be aware that with access to more data sooner than before, CBP will be better able to carry out its trade compliance mandate more effectively, Ross said in her blog.

February 28 is the new date when ACE becomes mandatory as the replacement for the current Automate Commercial System. Also on that date, several other federal agencies will begin using ACE. Implementation of ACE accelerates in the second half of 2016, with another half-dozen agencies joining the portal. On December16, 2016, ACE becomes the single window for all government agencies that process trade documentation.

Brenda Gibson, Customs’ Assistant Port Director in Charleston, said ACE was not established simply to make life easier for Customs and Border Protection.

The bottom line for the trade community is that ACE will soon become a reality, so importers and exporters that have avoided pilot programs or are waiting for the full implementation trigger before filing through the ACE platform should work with their brokers and forwarders immediately to migrate their operations to CBP’s new electronic platform, the trade symposium was advised.


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