Each year, individuals from Customs and Freight Forwarding associations along the West Coast participate in a ‘Mission to Washington DC’ to meet with Senators and top officials from relevant government agencies. This year, Laufer’s Ashley Coxey (National Director of Business Development, CHB), and Lacey Watson (National Compliance Manager) participated in representing Laufer as well as acting as advocates for all our customers.
Over the course of the two-day mission, meetings were held with representatives from Customs & Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), APHIS (a USDA agency), the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and Congressmen/women from relevant districts.
Though each meeting agenda was full of various topics, the incredibly HOT topics of ocean container demurrage, detention, and congestion issues were at the forefront of almost every discussion. Our team had the opportunity to speak directly with the FMC Commissioners about what is being done to help alleviate the situation. Ongoing research is being conducted among active teams and committees (Fact Finding Mission 29), with opportunities for members of the trade community to submit reports, which are already being reviewed. The FMC’s focus right now is to enforce the statutory provision for ‘reasonable action’ in the Shipping Act of 1984 to combat unfair demurrage and detention practices. This is historically significant as enforcement like this has never been done.
Important discussions about the renewal of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) and the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) also took place. Many importers have been negatively impacted by the lapse in both agreements. As a result, duties are being paid on goods which were previously eligible for reduced or duty-free treatment, and those payments may need to be returned after the renewal occurs. Many companies are frustrated by the accounting challenges this is causing while they play the ‘waiting game’ for these bills to be pushed through. Laufer’s team voiced support for the swift renewal of both bills and asked Representatives to support passing both MTB and GSP. We were encouraged by comments about finalizing adjustments and added focus to these renewals before attention is turned to the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which is also expiring soon.
At Laufer, we take every opportunity to advocate on behalf of our customers and obtain the latest market insight to help businesses continue to navigate the challenging world of global trade.
For questions or requests for more detailed information, please contact Ashley Coxey.