Trade Processing Continues but Other CBP Functions Curtailed as Shutdown Continues

Friday, January 11, 2019

Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is prioritizing the movement of cargo during the ongoing federal government shutdown but a number of its other trade-related functions have been put on hold. The following information on the current status of these services has been provided by CBP officials and members of the trade community.

(Click here to register for ST&R’s Jan. 15 webinar on what importers and exporters need to know during the shutdown.)

– Most cargo processing operations are being maintained. Traders experiencing cargo delays should contact the applicable port of entry or Center of Excellence and Expertise.

– CBP employees still working include CEE directors and assistant directors, entry specialists, import specialists, some information technology staff (though not ABI representatives), and Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures staff.

– National account managers have been furloughed.

– Entry liquidations are still being done, though without refunds where applicable, and the Automated Clearinghouse is fully functional for duty payments.

– CBP has halted work on rulings (though the eRulings portal is still accepting requests), regulatory audits, and refunds (e.g., drawback, protests, post-summary corrections, though interest will eventually be paid where applicable).

– CBP is still enforcing deadlines for the trade community (e.g., protest and drawback claims, CF 28/29 responses, Enforce and Protect Act duty evasion proceedings, audits) but its own responses may not be held to normal timelines.

– The Environmental Protection Agency is largely shut down but CBP has a protocol for handling critical EPA-regulated cargo release issues through port of entry or CEE officials.

– Food and Drug Administration trade functions such as prior notice processing are continuing to operate.

– HTSUS records were updated prior to the winter holiday and are mostly current for 2019 but do not reflect any developments since the shutdown began. Customs brokers have access to most 2019 duty rates through their ABI systems but the online searchable, PDF, and paper versions of the HTSUS made available by the International Trade Commission will not be available until after ITC staff return to duty.

– Problems related to changes in the HTSUS for reporting units of measure cannot be resolved at this time because both CBP and ITC staff who handle this issue are furloughed.

– CBP is not capable of processing the Section 301 tariff exclusions recently approved by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative or addressing additional exclusion requests and will issue further instructions after the shutdown ends.

– There have been no major issues with the opening or processing of quotas, some of which (e.g., steel) are already closed.

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