Business, Freight News, Sea

US trade continues despite government shutdown

[ October 11, 2013   //   ]

Freight forwarders and NVOCCs said that they had not experienced any difficulty in moving shipments to or from the US, despite the Congress budget dispute that has led to many government services being shut down. Despite fears that customs clearance would be hit, there was no sign in mid-October that this was happening, although some export agencies and the Federal Maritime Commission had shut down some operations.

Gary Waller of Essex-based consolidator Alliance Group said: “So far, there have been no problems with air or sea services to the US. Everything is moving normally.”

Bob Andrews at Romford-based forwarder Globelink Fallow also confirmed: “We have seen no effects so far.”

Likewise, Mick Frearson, managing director of Tamworth based Cargo Marketing Services said that there were no difficulties and that it was “pretty much business as usual”. Cargo Marketing’s US agent said that US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) remained “largely operational” as 90% of its employees had been designated essential. All ports of entry are open for business, including CBP Field Operations, as are CBP Centers for Excellence and Expertise. CBP will continue all “revenue collection” activities such as drawback, fines, penalties & forfeitures). While technicians and other back office personnel have largely been furloughed, and post-release operations are expected to be delayed, CBP’s main functions of cargo inspection, revenue collection and border security should not be affected.

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), continue to carry out inspections, although the APHIS website is down and permit reviews are delayed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also contining to conduct port-of-entry inspections of imports into the U.S, though some FDA specialists will not be available for consultation. The FDA will continue high-risk recalls and investigations.

For exports, the AESDirect system for filing Electronic Export Information (EEI) is still operationa but the US Export Assistance Center is closed until further notice.

The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) , which oversees rate and tariff-filing as required under US law had effectively suspended all operations and its employees had been furloughed. The FMC is not accepting or reviewing any filings such as carrier agreements, applications for registration as ocean transport intermediaries or accept or act on any complaints during the shutdown.

The FMC’s online databases such as the NVOCC Tariff List, and List of FMC Licensed and Bonded OTIs) are unavailable, and the FMC will not respond to email or phone inquiries. All pending FMC proceedings are stayed.