U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Federal Maritime Commission said they have signed an agreement to share data from CBP's Automated Commercial
Environment-International Trade Data System
(ACE-ITDS) "in order to strengthen the balance of facilitation and enforcement regarding the regulation of ocean carriers and other entities involved in ocean trade."
"This is a significant step forward toward ensuring greater security, compliance and facilitation of cargo in the maritime environment," said Acting CBP Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU)"envinces a continuing partnership" between the two agencies, Mario Cordero, the chairman of the FMC, said. He added that the exchange of information would enhance the trade and transportation data available to his agency and further security at ports.
The MoU will allow data from CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and other systems to be transferred directly to the FMC for use in fulfilling its regulatory duties and responsibilities.
Press releases from the agencies said this direct transfer of data will conserve resources of both agencies and ensure compliance with the SAFE Port Act.
The agreement, signed during a ceremony at the FMC on July 19, specifies the specific data elements to be shared, the legal authority of FMC to receive the data, and the conditions under which FMC may use, store or share the information.
They said ACE-ITDS trade data is protected by the Trade Secrets Act and that both agencies are obligated under the agreement to properly safeguard the data.
While not commenting specifically on last week's announcement, Ed Greenberg, general and transportation counsel for the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), told American Shipper
that the industry could benefit from CBP and the FMC working closely.
For example, when there is congestion at ports or disruptions — for example, after the Sandy storm disrupted port operations in New York, or in 2002 when a lockout of longshoreman halted container traffic at West Coast ports — he said CBP has taken steps to facilitate the movement of cargo.
He said the NCBFAA has requested that the FMC consider procedures that would require carriers to post on the FMC Web site contingency plans in the event of port disruptions. - Chris Dupin