B2B Payments

Census Bureau Acts On Improved Cross-Border Trade System

In February, President Obama signed an executive order designed to streamline the import and export process for American businesses. The order is designed to cut processing and approval times from days to minutes for small businesses that export American-made goods and services by completing the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016.

Businesses today must submit information to dozens of government agencies, often on paper forms, sometimes waiting on process for days to move goods across the border, the White House noted when Obama signed the order.  The ITDS will allow businesses to electronically transmit, through a “single-window,” the data required by the U.S. government to import or export cargo.

“This new electronic system will speed up the shipment of American-made goods overseas, eliminate often duplicative and burdensome paperwork, and make our government more efficient,” the White House noted.

On Friday (Aug. 22), the U.S. Census Bureau issued an interim final rule to amend its regulations to reflect changes related to ITDS implementation, whose purpose is both for cost savings and to bolster border security.

Congress established the system to eliminate redundant information requirements, regulate the flow of commerce more efficiently, and enforce laws and regulations relating to international trade. To do so, it establishes a single portal system for the collection and distribution of standard electronic import and export data required by participating federal agencies.

A December report to Congress suggests use of the ITDS will reduce costs for both businesses and the government by “electronifying” the process, and agencies will obtain data more quickly through electronic filings.

“With automated processing, agencies will be better able to process cargo more expeditiously and to identify unsafe, dangerous, or prohibited shipments,” the report notes.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is building ITDS as part of the Automated Commercial Environment trade-processing project. It also is responsible for operating the system, which some 48 agencies, including CBP, are working together to implement. The interagency ITDS board of directors, chaired by the Treasury Department, is coordinating the interagency participation.

As part of the new law, the Automated Export System (AES) will include export information collected under other federal agencies’ authority. The Census Bureau’s rule clarifies the confidentiality provisions of the electronic export information (EEI) and facilitates the legitimate sharing of export data consistent with ITDS goals.

The Census Bureau is responsible for collecting, compiling, and publishing export trade statistics for the United States, where a lot of goods and services flow across its borders as part of international trade with other countries. For example, the bureau reported recently that June U.S. exports totaled $195.9 billion, while imports were valued at $237.4 billion.

The AES is the primary instrument the Census Bureau uses for collecting export trade data, which it then uses for statistical purposes. Through the AES, the bureau collects the EEI, which consists of such information as the exporter’s name, address and identification number, and detailed information concerning the exported product.

Traditionally, other federal agencies have used the EEI for export-control purposes to detect and prevent the export of certain items by unauthorized parties or to unauthorized destinations or end users.

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