Regulatory intelligence for US exporters

CBP Aiming to Issue NPRM for Electronic Export Manifest This Year, Official Says

CBP hopes to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to eventually mandate electronic export manifest (see 2207180041 and 2205060015) by the end of this year, said Jim Swanson, an agency official. The agency has written the regulations for ocean, air and rail manifest but is in the middle of a lengthy government review process before it can publish the NPRM in the Federal Register and officially request public comments, Swanson said.

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“Our goal is to hopefully get to that point by the end of this calendar year,” Swanson said during a call with reporters last week. “That's a hope, not a schedule, because there's just so many things that could get in the way.” The rule still faces an interagency review and an economic analysis, among other layers of internal review.

CBP has been hoping to move faster on mandating the use of EEM, but has seen limited participation in its pilot program (see 2110180038). Although multiple participants signed up for the pilot in each transportation mode when it first launched in 2015, others didn’t want to invest in it, said Swanson, director of CBP’s cargo and security controls division.

“The feedback we got from the industry was: It's an expensive proposition. We will only do it when you make us do it, when we’re mandated to do it,” he said. “We really got to the point where we determined we had to write regulations.”

But CBP doesn’t view the cost of participating in EEM as a “limiting” factor. “It's a one-off investment to get into this,” Swanson said. “There will be people who talk about that, but quite frankly, we don't believe that that's a stopping point for us.” The agency is more concerned with hearing from industry about “what are we doing right? What are we doing wrong? Are we providing the proper time frames?”

“Those are the kinds of comments we really expect to see there,” Swanson said of the upcoming NPRM. “We will have to review and answer all those comments and take them to heart, whether it requires changes prior to publication of a final rule.”

But even if the agency publishes the NPRM before 2023, that doesn’t necessarily mean a final rule to mandate electronic export manifest will be published immediately after. “It could be anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years,” Swanson said. “But the NPRM is the trick. That's the piece that most in the trade are looking for to show our seriousness. Usually we follow through once we do that.”

This initial phase of EEM won’t cover the truck transportation mode, he added, which is on a different timeline. CBP is hoping to develop a truck manifest that “aligns with Mexico and Canada, so that our export manifest becomes their import manifest, and vice versa, so that we can share that data.” This will help all three nations better move cargo, Swanson said, and create more “transparency” along the borders.

The agency hopes to “bring Mexico and Canada in sometime this year, to begin identifying what those datasets should look like.” Swanson expects to see more progress on truck manifest “in the next couple of years.”