OTTAWA — The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has some questions and concerns regarding U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recent announcement that it will be requiring mandatory reporting of residue in tanker trailers entering the United States.
"Soft" enforcement will begin on September 29, 2012, CBP said, with full enforcement beginning on December 28,2012.
The CTA said that the agency has yet to explain what exactly "hard" or "soft" enforcement means and neither has it explained to the trading community how it should comply.
The rule, originally published in 2009, will require all empty tanker trucks, ISO 20-foot tanks, rail tanks and large bulk carriers to provide a manifest and file a customs entry for all cargo residues entering the United States.
"Prior to this change, cargo residue was treated as part of the Instrument of International Traffic, exempting it from manifest and entry requirements," CTA explained. "Under the ruling, residue left in a tank truck after unloading will have to be measured and valued — basically treated like any other commodity for CBP purposes. CBP’s supposed rationale for the rule is to safeguard the health and safety of its front-line officers. However, the ruling extends beyond chemicals and hazardous materials to include all liquid or dry bulk commodities, including such things as corn syrup."
There are a number of questions that need to be answered, CTA said, like how to assign value to a residual quantity which in essence has no value, or how to determine the weight of residue when it can’t be seen inside a tanker.
CBP’s response has been to warn carriers that simply reporting a ‘zero or near zero’ value could raise a red flag with CBP officers and may lead to increased inspections at the border.
Then there are questions about the ownership of residue, an important liability issue, CTA said. This, too, has gone unanswered by CBP, except to say that where there is no clear owner or importer of record, the residual cargo can be deemed abandoned by the consignee, thus making the carrier by default the owner.
CTA said this runs the risk of exposing carriers to new penalties and fines and force them to begin obtaining importer bonds or securing the services of a customs broker to comply with entry filing requirements.
If burden of compliance rests with carriers, it could also impact negatively on a trucker's ability to use the border FAST lanes, CTA said.
It's a move that looks to be flying in the face of the new Perimeter Vision Action Plan. “None of this makes much sense in the context of the new Perimeter Vision Action Plan and the agreement on better borders and reduced red tape, recently agreed to by the Canadian and US governments,” said CTA's David Bradley.
“Despite repeated requests from industry on both sides of the border, CBP has failed to provide any meaningful guidance about how it will enforce the new rules or what will reasonably be expected from carriers in order to comply,” he says. “It looks like CBP doesn’t know itself but for some reason is pushing ahead anyway.”
CTA is advising carriers whose trucks enter the U.S. to discuss the issue with customers to ensure the importer or owner of the residual commodities is clearly indicated.
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