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NCBFAA Gathering Signatures on Joint Trade Industry Statement on Potential Shutdown

The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, is circulating a joint statement for signature by other trade groups that advocates for keeping "all avenues of international trade" open in the event of a government shutdown if Congress doesn't agree to a funding bill by Sept. 30.

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Among the statement's requests is that CBP work with the private sector to grant "direct access" to an agency-staffed "war room" to keep trade moving during a potential shutdown. They request that partner government agencies, such as the EPA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, be present in the "war room," since those agencies "must clear goods before they can enter the stream of commerce," the statement said.

The NCBFAA is "currently rounding up signatures from as many trade associations as possible for this joint industry statement," it said in an email Sept. 18. CBP did not immediately comment.

The statement urges coordination among CBP headquarters, ports and the Centers of Excellence and Expertise, noting that during previous government shutdowns, "breakdowns in communication" between the three "caused needless inefficiencies in moving trade," the statement said.

It also requests CBP daily briefings in the event of a shutdown, something provided during previous shutdowns. They hope the PGAs with "withhold authority" attend the briefings as well, the statement said. "It will only be with all parties working together in a coordinated manner that trade will be able to continue to move during any potential lapse in government funding," it said.

The statement also said that trade must continue to move in "both directions" during any potential government funding lapse. This includes exports, licenses, inspections, "impractical to screen cargo and the like."

All tangential trade functions must be considered "essential" during a shutdown, the statement said. Examples include the "issuance of steel and aluminum licenses via the Department of Commerce, EPA inspection sites, all PGA staff who conduct document reviews or technical staff to resolve automation issues, personnel who process the paper checks at the ports, personnel who conduct inspections for self-propelled used vehicle exports, and the like."

"We must work together to keep legitimate trade flowing and to keep illicit trade and bad actors out of the supply chain during this challenging time," the statement said.