My colleague Janine Tramont recently sat down with Ann Marie Paul, Director of the Industrial & Manufacturing Materials Center of Excellence and Expertise in Buffalo, NY, to discuss the significance of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection center and how it changes trade in the Buffalo Niagara region and the greater United States.
What are the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Centers of Excellence and Expertise?
In 2011, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began a key initiative to advance U.S. economic competitiveness with the goal to improve efficiencies for both CBP and the trade community and to transform customs procedures to align with modern business practices. One such way to do so was through the introduction of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs).
Introduced in an effort to reduce costs for businesses and government by streamlining trade processes and systematically enforcing U.S. trade law, the CEEs provide one-stop processing for the trade community using a team of industry-focused CBP experts located virtually nationwide. According to CBP, this approach will “increase the uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and further strengthen critical agency knowledge on key industry practices.”
CEEs are aligned by industry sectors and include: Agriculture & Prepared Products; Apparel, Footwear, & Textiles; Automotive & Aerospace; Base Metals; Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising; Industrial & Manufacturing Materials; Information Technology & Consumer Electronics; Machinery; Petroleum, Natural Gas, & Minerals; and Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals.
CBP hopes the introduction of such Centers will allow quicker clearance times while providing additional services to importers.
What does the Industrial & Manufacturing Materials Center of Excellence and Expertise in Buffalo, NY focus on?
On November 27, 2012, the Deputy Commissioner of CBP announced at the East Coast Trade Symposium six new Centers, which included the Industrial & Manufacturing Materials (IMM) CEE in Buffalo, New York. The IMM CEE specializes in plastics, polymers, rubber, leather, wood, paper, stone, glass, precious stones and precious metals, or similar industries, with the highest percentage of their entries comprised of related materials.
How does the implementation of Centers of Excellence and Expertise affect Cross Border Trade?
Under the CEE approach, the process for entry and entry summary will not change. However, the location of CBP processing for post-release aspects of shipments will move from ports of entry to the appropriate industry CEE.  Because CEEs work virtually, importers will not need to change where they import. Instead, CBP will leverage technology to bring the work to the CEEs, no matter where the importation occurs.
The primary advantage of this approach is account centralization and streamlining of the documentation process. Importers using multiple ports who participate in CEE will no longer be subject to differing port-specific procedures for post-entry adjustments or protests. The CEE can successfully resolve issues with all 329 ports of entry for the participating importer, providing importers the benefit of a direct line of communication for post entry interactions. This is expected to save both time and money for the importer and the government.
With the United States and Canada moving towards a building a larger trade volume in 2016, it is important to understand the significance of CEEs and how they can accelerate the trade process. The CanAm Council will be focusing on this subject throughout the early part of 2016 in its Council Meetings and signature event, Unleashing the Power of the Mega-Region. If interested in participating or learning more about cross-border economic opportunities, please contact Catherine Muth, Manager, CanAm & Government Affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Janine Tramont, Manager of Membership Engagement and CanAm, at email@example.com.