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CBP to Exempt Qualifying Non-PGA Section 321 Filings From 10-Digit HTS Data, Expand Pilot

CBP will exempt some filers from the requirement to file a 10-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule subheading on low value shipments that do not have PGA requirements once it finalizes new data elements for Section 321 shipments, Brandon Lord, acting CBP executive director-trade policy and programs, said at the June 23 meeting of the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee.

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“CBP will offer supply chains the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to successfully identify PGA-regulated commodities,” Lord said. “Those that are able will not need to submit the 10-digit HTS on every shipment, only on those shipments that are regulated by a PGA,” he said.

The announcement came up at the following day’s meeting of the Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness. “One of the things we've expressed multiple concerns about in previous meetings was the potential requirement for an HS number for the low-value de minimis shipments,” Norm Schenk, chair of the Trade and Regulatory Subcommittee of the ACSCC, said at the meeting. “And they announced yesterday that customs is not going to be pursuing that and is using alternative trusted trader requirements, basically what's being used today, mostly by the larger carriers that handle lower shipments.”

Also at the COAC, Lord said CBP is finalizing other data elements that will “give CBP greater visibility into foreign seller and associate non-traditional customs data from a platform or website where goods are sold to specific small packages” arriving at ports of entry.” The new data elements will be “required for certain Section 321 shipments,” he said.

Despite some indications in documents released ahead of the meeting that CBP will soon wrap up the pilot and begin drafting regulations based on lessons learned, CBP now looks set to continue the pilots and expand participation, said Valarie Neuhart, deputy executive director in the office of trade relations, at the June 24 supply chain meeting. She said CBP would be publishing a public notice seeking more participants, and that the agency's intention is to extend the pilot until it can be formally replaced with a data collection process.

Cindy Allen had urged as much at the COAC meeting. Only “one or two” types of e-commerce trade flows have so far been tested in the Section 321 pilot, she said. “A big issue with these other models is [that] the connectivity and flow of data through partners and parties to transactions” is “not necessarily effective today, or doesn’t exist at all,” Allen said. It’s “especially challenging when those parties may not be aware they’re part of an international transaction.”

That “underscores a need to expand” the Section 321 pilot, “and we’d like to encourage CBP to continue the pilot and expand participation ... so these types of trade flows can be tested fully before new regulations are promulgated," Allen said.