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US forwarders want clarity on new CBP electronic air cargo manifest rules

© Michal Bednarek |aircraft securityjpg

© Michal Bednarek

The US Airforwarders’ Association has expressed concern over plans by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to make forwarders file electronic air-cargo manifests in advance of flights.

There has been little take-up by forwarders of a pilot project in which they would file house and air waybill details directly to CBP and then tell carriers they have done so.

“CBP is considering changing the rules to bring the forwarders into the picture, to submit house air waybill data before departure,” said Airforwarders’ Association chief Brandon Fried. We are not sure what that is going to look like.

“The forwarder has data early on, but that data can change, and we don’t want to be sanctioned for inaccuracies. We want the chance to correct.

“And not all forwarders have sophisticated technology,” he added. “Everyone needs easy access to get it done. The devil is in the detail, and we are waiting for details from the CBP. Our interactions with them are open and straightforward; they can talk to me now, or later – but I am not going away.”

Mr Fried said it was important for forwarders to “be in the room” when new legislation is proposed. The association is also talking to the TSA on new security arrangements proposed for 2021.

“TSA is planning a new programme like the known consignor programme. Freight will be screened on all cargo flights. And there will be other security requirements.

“We are working with the TSA on what actually happens. We are ‘in the room’.

“The basic, over-arching idea is that there is fair and equal access to flights while adhering to security standards consistent with global requirements.”

He added that there had recently been some beneficial changes. The Indirect Air Carrier Management System (IACMS) and the Known Shipper Management System have been simplified.

“We have still not got over the data hump with government agencies, and are still submitting paper,” said Mr Fried. “But – things have improved.

“There are two required management system platforms that forwarders must access, and they are awkward and archaic, and that hadn’t been addressed.

“Finally, the TSA has authorised the re-engineering of both systems which will make it easier for members and shippers. The issue is not the process, it’s access.

“As far as data-sharing goes – it’s the wild west out there. We want to get to a place where one filing does all things. It doesn’t make sense not to.  We want to make it as seamless as possible, but I know it’s not easy.”

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