Over recent years, terms like trade, and tariffs have graced every household, becoming somewhat of a prime topic for dinnertime talk. It is a clear indication of how we started to perceive trade as an important part of the development of a nation. However, in the midst of learning new topics, we forget to give credit to the people who struggled to bring these topics to the public’s attention – The Customs brokers.
You can think for yourself how many times the hard work of a trade broker gets mentioned in the news or a newspaper column. They are scarce, right? But these are the people who put in an effort to make trade work. Customs brokers and freight forwarders work day and night to facilitate the movement of goods even when international ties between partner countries sway violently. The latest 301 & 232 tariffs are an example of how long-standing relations turn grim after a country decides to remodel its tariff laws.
When such new tariffs are introduced, there is a sense of uncertainty that plagues everyone’s mind how this will affect trade and what are all the required procedure to follow the new set of regulations. the customs brokers spent countless hours trying to structure their workings so that it is fully compatible with ACE, and in turn keep the trade going without causing hold-ups.
But the most complicated part of this is that the customs brokers have to put these new changes into effect without having a testing period to see if there are any computability issues. The Customs brokers and freight forwarders have to test out un-chartered waters and see if there are any issues pertaining to the ACE’s new set of rules.
The result is them spending hours and hours on Chapter 98 (232 and 301 duties) and countless calls to CBP and ACE to figure out the new set of duties. Then the information is passed on to the client, helping them make for their end which will make them compatible for trade. If there are any contradictions or compatibility issues within the duties, the firefight brokers have to motif ACE promptly so that a temporary workaround or a permeant fix can be developed. If the communication process doesn’t happen efficiently, it will directly affect the trade, causing millions in loss.
The brokerage community is adept to these changing dynamics that affect trade. With multiple clients waiting to get their goods into the trade route, customs brokers and freight forwarders cannot depend on “what ifs” or “barely enough”.
Even though accolades or recognition are not handed to these people who work behind the stage to keep everything in order, they will not complain because of the integrity that they uphold in their work and the commitment they have towards the client.
So enquire to your broker about the challenges they face when you’re on the subject of trade. Never regard their hard work as something meager or unimportant. Without them, we may not have the luxuries that we take for granted now!
Excerpt of the NCBFAA EVP Meghan Montomery article at www.ncbfaa.org, 11/1/18