U.S. Customs and Border Protection this week notified the trade sector about procedures it has established in the event of a strike, lockout or labor slowdown at West Coast ports if the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and maritime employers can't agree on a new contract.
The current contact expires on June 30th. Indications from the negotiations are that the sides will agree to extend the existing agreement for awhile, if necessary, to allow more time to complete a new multi-year deal.
CBP said if a trade disruption occurs, vessels and cargo could be diverted to other ports, and that all ports that could be impacted have developed business resumption plans to ensure rapid restoration of Customs services for vessel and cargo clearance.
The mitigation procedures were developed with cooperation with the trade community, the agency said. It will will publish notices when the interim procedures go into effect and when normal processing resumes.
CBP has three primary ways of communicating alerts about events that could delay cargo: a Unified Business Resumption site
on the agency's homepage; a Cargo System Messaging Service (CSMS) by subscription; and a subscription e-mail service.
In a CSMS message on Wednesday, Customs provided instructions for shippers on how to file customs and other import documents for various scenarios in which ships are diverted
to foreign ports (such as in Canada or Mexico), to other West Coast ports, or to East Coast or Gulf ports. Instructions vary depending on whether the cargo is discharged or not.