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Broker: Export E-Manifest Will Reduce Data, Minor Penalties and Help Drawback Filing

PHILADELPHIA -- The glacial pace of developing electronically submitted export manifests is finally picking up, participants on a CBP export modernization panel said, with Tom Pagano, outbound enforcement policy branch chief, saying "we're really close."

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Customs has been talking about requiring electronic export manifests for decades (see 1711140057), and the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee has been talking about it for 10 years, but Dave Corn, executive vice president, Comstock & Theakston, said COAC has put together a detailed punch list of how to make progressive export filing a reality.

"We need to party like it's 2024, not like it's 1799," he said.

CBP had said in 2022 that it expected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on ocean, air and rail e-manifests for exports (see 2207290035). Corn said at the CBP Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit that the rail e-manifest had not yet gone to interagency review but is cleared by DHS to do so; the agency hopes to publish that proposal this summer (see 2401030037). He also said vessel e-manifest isn't far behind in the approval process.

Participation in pilot testing hasn't been as robust as CBP had hoped -- about 34% of exports are covered -- but what Customs is learning is surprising to those inside and outside the agency.

Omari Wooden, Census Bureau assistant division chief, said that in the rail test, 87% of the export field dates ended up being changed from the initial filing, 38% of carriers changed and 21% of the mode of transportation changed.

Corn said that because of the ability to progressively file with an e-manifest, and because the export date will automatically be corrected when the goods leave the country, "these little slap on the wrist penalties" for wrong export dates "are going to go away."

Corn predicted that e-manifests will create cost savings in the long run with a reduction in data elements. He said the export date should be automatically populated by the carrier, and that will be useful for proof of export needed to file for drawback.

He said the manifest confirmation number may also help when you are temporarily importing under bond for reexport.

Corn acknowledged that many companies don't want to participate in the pilot because, they say: "I already have enough things on my plate with regulations."

However, he advised: "The issue is, if you're late to the table, you miss out on the first cut of what's handed out." He said those who are involved now will be able to shape how the e-manifest looks.

The e-manifest pilots -- which don't yet cover the trucking sector -- will run for about two years before the agency decides what to mandate.

Peter Russell, a management and program analyst for outbound enforcement policy, said CBP has seen some problems involving the Document Image System. While exporters submit DIS files via e-mail, exports that are rejected are notified through the electronic data interchange (EDI) system, and Russell said CBP is hearing that exporters didn't see that it was on hold. The agency is working on sending approved, rejected and pending-with-comments notifications via email, and that feature should be in production at the end of April. Starting in August, ACE developers will work on the ability to send DIS documents in EDI.

A major area of focus for export enforcement is preventing stolen cars from being exported (see 12052505, 2309010035 and 1910090032). Russell said CBP is trying to get division of motor vehicles data integrated into its export screening, and would like to work on a tamper-proof electronic title. A few states have electronic titles, but most are still on paper.