NCBFAA Annual Conference Takeaways

Our own Liz at NCBFAA

Last week, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) held its annual conference in Tucson, Arizona. Our Director of Import Operations Liz Deaton was in attendance. The conference brings together customs brokers and freight forwarders from across the United States and many of the vendor partners with whom we work including software, compliance, and surety companies. While everyone at the conference is technically a competitor, the shared knowledge and experiences, and solutions are important, especially today, to increase collaboration across the entire supply chain.

At the conference, presenters come from across the government entities that regulate imports including CBP, FDA, and Fish & Wildlife. The group also covers transportation and forwarding issues, and understandably the issue of demurrage, detention, and carrier behavior was a hot topic, including the state of affairs in Southern California and what this year might hold.

There were three key takeaways that Liz heard will affect importers and should be on their radar screens moving through 2022.

The FMC is stepping up demurrage and detention action.

The FMC’s Chairman, Daniel Maffei, spoke to the group in a few sessions and while he was unable to comment on the Hapag Lloyd fine which was public at the time and the nearly identical amount imposed on Wan Hai Lines, the FMC is eagerly looking for opportunities to press carriers on this issue. Chairman Maffei also said that the agency would be willing to look at bringing a case and testing their jurisdiction and reach not just on cargo on the water, but for ocean cargo moving on a through bill of lading to an inland point by rail. He hinted at the possibility of working collaboratively with the Surface Transportation Board who has jurisdiction over railroads to find a way to hold them to account.

Withhold Release Orders and the UFLPA are accelerating in importance.

A panel discussion dedicated to Withhold Release Orders and specifically about the UFLPA (which CBP pronounced as “Oof-el PAH” to the assembled crowd) drove home the short timetable between now and June 21st when the legislation becomes law. We wrote about it here already, but CBP shared this slide of their proposed timeline for both education and implementation between now and then:

We continue to stress to our clients to identify and confirm those sources which come from within the targeted area and understand that this is a “guilty until proven innocent” approach for the agency because of how the legislation is written. The moment we are able to request exemptions which must both be granted by the Commissioner and notified to Congress, we will do so.

Meet the term “ally-shoring”

During a session on the agency’s long-planned updates to both the regulations which govern how brokers are managed and how the agency operates, Brandon Lord, Deputy Executive Director of Trade Policy & Programs in the Office of Trade at CBP utilized the term “ally-shoring.”

While we are all certainly familiar with “on-shoring” and “near-shoring”, Lord hinted that CBP will look to trading partners with shared national economic security because, “National economic security and prosperity is everyone’s business,” and that the US may slightly pivot their trade policy to look more favorably to and want to do more with countries who share the market’s geopolitical outlook.

As with any conference, whether for sales or education, there are countless small tips and tricks that we return home with and evaluate for their effectiveness in helping Argents’ customers be better throughout their supply chains. We’ll keep everyone apprised of these plans and if you’d like to be a participant in any progressive or new programs that we are testing for our wider client base, contact your Argents representative to learn more and sign up.