U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar announced at the East Coast Trade Symposium the expansion of the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (Centers), which will create six new Centers in 2013 for the Agriculture & Prepared Products; Apparel, Footwear & Textiles; Base Metals; Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising; Industrial & Manufacturing Materials; and Machinery industries. CEE’s are “virtual “one-stop shops” that provide centralized processing for importers that volunteer to participate. TheCenters are also already a source of information for the entire trading community. Centers are virtual organizations, managed from a strategic location, that link CBP trade personnel by industry to authoritatively facilitate trade.”

CBP’s goal is to eventually cover the full range of imported goods. For now, the Centers to be established in FY 2013 are:

  1. Agriculture & Prepared Products: Miami
  2. Apparel, Footwear & Textiles: San Francisco
  3. Base Metals: Chicago
  4. Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising: Atlanta
  5. Industrial & Manufacturing Materials: Buffalo
  6. Machinery: Laredo
These virtual centers will provide one-stop processing to lower the Trade’s cost of business, provide greater consistency and predictability and enhance CBP enforcement efforts. The Centers represent CBP’s expanded focus on “Trade in the 21st Century,” transforming customs procedures to align with modern business. The Centers will also serve as resources to the broader trade community and to CBP’s U.S. government partners. The current Centers are Electronics in Long Beach; Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals in New York City; Automotive & Aerospace in Detroit; and Petroleum, Natural Gas & Minerals in Houston.

Resources to learn more about the CEE’s:

  • Customs created a new 8 minute video advising on additional benefits the CEE’s provide, including being a “common sense trade processing system,” and discussing the assistance with administrative detentions of merchandise the CEE’s can provide.
  • PowerPoint Presentation on CEE’s.

CTPAT and ISA members are given priority to apply for admission into CEE’s.  CEE’s are supposed to provide the uniform decision making the importing community craves. Import Specialists will eventually all belong to a specific CEE and utilize their specialized knowledge to provide consistent admissibility decisions around the country. I very much look forward to seeing and reporting on how the Miami CEE progresses.