New Schedule B classification codes for exporting hybrid and electric cars

US Customs, in conjunction with the US Census Bureau, recently updated the nine-thousand-or-so ten-digit numbers they use to classify exports. This system is called the Schedule B.

Included in the update are several new codes to identify hybrid and electric cars. Electric passenger cars are all lumped under one Schedule B.

  • 8703800000: other vehicles with only an electric motor for propulsion

Hybrids, however, are defined by whether their alternative fuel type is gasoline or diesel, by their engine displacement, and by whether or not they have the means to recharge by plugging in to an external power source. Here is the breakdown of these new Schedule B codes.

  • 8703400045: used gasoline hybrid without plug-in, engine between 1.5 and 3 liters in size
  • 8703400090: used gasoline hybrid without plug-in, engine greater than 3 liters in size
  • 8703500050: used diesel hybrid without plug-in, engine between 1.5 and 2.5 liters in size
  • 8703500090: used diesel hybrid without plug-in, engine greater than 2.5 liters in size
  • 8703600045: used gasoline hybrid with plug-in, engine between 1.5 and 3 liters in size
  • 8703600090: used gasoline hybrid with plug-in, engine greater than 3 liters in size
  • 8703700050: used diesel hybrid with plug-in, engine between 1.5 and 2.5 liters in size
  • 8703700090: used diesel hybrid with plug-in, engine greater than 2.5 liters in size

Although not exactly new, the codes for cars with standard gasoline and diesel engines are slightly different than before. Now the eighth digit in their Schedule Bs is a 1 instead of a zero.

  • 8703230190: gasoline-powered cars with engines between 1.5 and 3 liters
  • 8703240190: gasoline-powered cars with engines greater than 3 liters in size
  • 8703320150: diesel cars, engine size between 1.5 and 2.5 liters
  • 8703330185: diesel cars, engine size above 2.5 liters

This is the general pattern too for motorhomes and special purpose vehicles, although snowmobiles are the same with 8703101000. There are also a number of new classification numbers for machinery such as plows, pavers, and tractors. Keep in mind that for customs’ purposes all self-propelled vehicles — that is, those that move via their own power source — have to be filed when exported to Canada.

You can find a complete list of the US classification numbers for export at the Census Bureau’s website here.

Enhancements to ACE-AESDirect and deleted port codes

Customs keeps chiseling away at its new export system. Through their partners at the U.S. Census Bureau they recently announced a new field in the commodities section of the application to put data pertaining to Partnership Government Agencies (PGAs). PGAs include an array of government agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), etc., that sometimes want to know what is leaving the United States.

Other changes in ACE-AESDirect from the announcement:

 

  • The Shipment Manager will now show the user who created or last took action on each filing, not just the original user who created the filing
  • All the activity for a specific Shipment Reference Number (SRN) will be shown through a new History View (Count) feature on the Shipment Manager
  • The design and functionality of the commodity line will be enhanced with the ability to enter required PGA data

And more and more port codes are being eliminated. The last few months saw these nixed.

  • 3981 Waukegan Airport, IL
  • 3983 Chicago Executive Airport, IL (formally Pal-Waukee Municipal Airport)
  • 3985 Decatur Airport, IL
  • 4185 Hulman Regional Airport, OH
  • 4506 Spirit of Saint Louis Airport, OH
  • 0181 Lebanon Airport, NH
  • 0409 Provincetown, MA
  • 2772 Gateway Freight Services, LAX, CA
  • 2773 Air Cargo Handling Services, LA, CA
  • 2774 Virgin Atlantic Cargo, LAX, CA
  • 2792 DHL-HUB Riverside, CA
  • 3820 Mackinac Isle, MI
  • 3844 Ferrysburg, MI

Gone! We’re weeping here at Simplified Trade Solutions.

Some ports were merely updated.

  • 5301 Houston, TX. This one can now be indicated for shipments by vessel.
  • 0901 Buffalo – Niagara, NY. CBP in Buffalo now does exports by vessel, rail, road, air, as carry-on (passenger hand-carried), and as fixed transport.

Stepped deactivation of old AESDirect accounts underway

Export filing accounts over at aesdirect.census.gov are gradually being deactivated in favor of the new system through ace.cbp.dhs.gov. The most recent broadcast message from the Census Bureau regarding this process:

The Refactored AESDirect system in the Automated Commercial Environment was launched on November 30, 2015.  Since that time, filers have submitted over 400,000 accepted shipments using the new system.

As part of the transition of AESDirect to the ACE Portal, the ability to file Electronic Export Information via legacy AESDirect at aesdirect.census.gov and the AESPcLink application will be terminated in stages over the next two months.  All legacy AESDirect filers have been notified of their mandatory transition date to the Refactored AESDirect system upon login and have been provided a specific date their account will be closed off based upon their Filer ID.

As a reminder, your filing in the Refactored AESDirect system does not require vetting or Reports Authorization. Vetting is only required for those companies looking to obtain export reports access outside of the AESDirect Shipment Manager. For more information regarding the transition, please see our AESDirect Transition to ACE – Refactored AESDirect page at http://www.census.gov/foreign- trade/aes/aesdirect/ transitiontoace.html

Please make sure you have secured ACE Exporter access and have taken the necessary steps to begin filing in the Refactored AESDirect system in ACE prior to your mandatory transition date. For questions regarding your ACE Account access, please contact the CBP Accounts Service Desk at 1-866-530-4172 option 1, then option 2 orACE.Support@cbp.dhs.gov. Please expect 15 to 30 minute waiting times during this transition period.

Complete Transition Schedule:

Prefixes 00-19 on 02/29/2016

Prefixes 20-39 on 03/14/2016

Prefixes 40-59 on 03/28/2016

Prefixes 60-79 on 04/11/2016

Prefixes 80-99 on 04/25/2016

Once your account is deactivated, there will be no further access to legacy AESDirect to file or amend Electronic Export Information. You will only have access to the Shipment Manager application to view previously submitted shipments.

If you haven’t made the change already, information for getting set up on “refactored” AESDirect via US customs’ ACE portal is available here on their website.

The case for more automation at American ports

Priceonomics has an article up on the lagging capacity of American maritime ports and compares the productivity of Oakland against Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Is the shipping container one of the greatest inventions in the modern world? Well, consider this:

The development of containers revolutionized trading among nations. Within 5 years of “containerization,” posits one estimate, trade among nations increased 320%; within 20 years, trade increased by 790%. In 1965, before containerization, a crew could move 1.7 tons of goods per hour. After containerization, a crew could move 30 tons per hour — a 17.6x increase in productivity.

Noted is the importance of gantry cranes in container throughput time at a port, the machines that lift containers on and off of ships.

In Oakland, teams of humans operate on-site gantry cranes. In the newest terminal at Rotterdam, however, a single person who operates this crane sits in an office and controls it the machine from his or her computer. A person is still operating the controls of the gantry crane, but that person now has software assisting him, making the job more comfortable, easier, and more productive.

Priceonomics states that not only are there more cranes at Rotterdam but that each crane is roughly 80 percent more productive than at Oakland, and that automation improves the consistency of human performance.

First, and perhaps most importantly, high levels of automation make it easier to have multiple shifts per day and better utilize expensive capital assets (cranes, trucks, berths, etc). In Oakland, it’s extremely expensive to run a second shift to quickly unload a ship because it is necessary to pay employees overtime wages in order to do so. In Rotterdam, it’s much more the normal course of business to operate two or three shifts per 24 hour period, especially for container yard deliveries. All terminals in the Port of Oakland still run 1st, 2nd and 3rd shift operations as needed based on volume, it is just at much higher cost to both capital and human assets.

Human-operated and software-operated cranes, can, in theory, move containers at the same rate. However, humans get tired and distracted, and don’t consistently operate at peak performance. Software, on the other hand, operates at the same rate no matter what. Technology can also make workers’ jobs easier and safer, reducing workplace stress which  can increase productivity in its own right.

Read the whole article here.

Census Bureau announces new export filing portal to go live in late October 2015

That is from their most recent broadcast email. The new AES, or “Refactored AESDirect,” will become mandatory in early 2016. In other words you will no longer be able to use the old orange website, aesdirect.census.gov, come early next year. A timeline:

Late October 2015

The new AESDirect website, Refactored AESDirect, will be available to file exports. But you can still use the old one, which will then be called “Legacy AESDirect” until…

Early 2016

The old orange “legacy” AESDirect website, electronic digital interface (EDI), and AESPcLink will no longer be available. These export filers must use Refractory AESDirect. This system is overseen by Customs and Border Protection, rather than the Census Bureau, and will be part of the same system used for imports (ACE).

Mid 2016

AES Weblink filers too must transition to a new system. This is relevant for companies who have purchased or developed their own applications to communicate with the US government trade filing systems.

Conclusion 

AESDirect filers have to sign up for ACE Exporter accounts sometime between late October and early 2016.

Or if you already file imports via an ACE importer account, your company’s Trade Account Owner (TAO) has to contact CBP via to request the addition of export functionality to your account.

A how-to guide for filing exports using the new systems is available at Customs and Border Protection’s website.

Another step closer to obsolescence for the old AESDirect

Last year the Automated Export System (AES) switched over to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). But the change was on the back-end and didn’t noticeably affect users of AESDirect.

Now the first sampling of what’s to come is available for users of the old AESDirect. The Census Bureau has announced that exporters can now interact directly with ACE through the web domain of US Customs and Border Protection at cbp.gov. ACE previously was only available to record imports into the United States.

Exporters cannot yet file their outgoing transactions in this system. But they can request a history of their export shipments via ACE Trade Export Reports. This electronic system replaces the previous data request procedure where a typed letter had to be sent by post to the Census Bureau.

Here is broadcast sent by the Census Bureau with details on how to get set up on ACE Trade Export Reports.

Beginning June 27th the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Secure Data Portal supports a new account type, “exporter”, for trade users. Establishing an exporter account will facilitate access to ACE Trade Export Reports. Remember that an exporter account will be required to access the ACE AESDirect filing portal when it is available later this year.

To establish an exporter account and to access training material, visit: http://www.cbp.gov/ trade/information-notice- trade-community-ace- deployment-e.

For technical questions related to ACE Exporter Account or ACE Trade Export Reports Contact:

CBP ACE Account Service Desk at 1-866-530-4172, selecting option 1, then option 2, or e-mail ACE.Support@cbp.dhs.gov

ACE Export Trade Reports

ACE Export Trade Reports will be accessible through your ACE Exporter Account. However, if you are not a current ACE Portal Import Account User or you have additional Employee Identification Numbers (EINs) that are not associated with your ACE account you will be required to complete the U.S. Census Bureau’s vetting process for each EIN new to ACE.

Note: You must request “Authorization for Reports” using your ACE Exporter Account for each EIN.

Vetting Process

Print the Certificate of Authority (COA) form on your company’s letterhead.
Sign the printed form.
Scan the signed COA form and e-mail it to exportreports@census.gov.
Respond to any additional verification questions necessary to confirm your eligibility to access the requested reports.
The vetting process begins once all steps are complete and are handled in the order received.

If approved, you will be notified via e-mail and your reports will be accessible the next business day after the approval process is complete.

Read more on the implementation of the new export filing system, ACE AESDirect. Customs and Border Protection is releasing it alongside other new ACE capabilities as “ACE Deployment E.”

 

Units of measure used in the Automated Export System

Every commodity exported from the United States is classified by a Schedule B number. And every Schedule B is measured by a unit, or two, of quantity. These quantities range from commonplace to strange and esoteric. Here is a breakdown of the quantities used for filing exports.

Most common AES units of measure

  • KG          kilograms (required for 4,013 Schedule B numbers)
  • NO         number (2,400)
  • X             no unit required (982)

No surprises here. The most common units of quantity are kilograms, the most basic international standard of weight, and count. For many commodities, exporters are given a pass and are not required to report any unit of measure.

Length, area and volume

  • M2         square meters (1,039)
  • M3         cubic meters (145)
  • CM2       square centimeters (3)
  • M            meters (12)
  • KM3       cubic kilometers (8)
  • L              liters (94)

It’s hard to visualize anything that could be measured in cubic kilometers. In fact this unit of quantity is reserved for gases: hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, as well as liquefied natural gas. Square centimeters are used to measure glass mirrors and gold leaf.

Weight

  • T              metric tons (244)
  • GM        grams (45)
  • CTN        content metric tons (19)
  • CKG       content kilograms (19)
  • CGM      content grams (14)
  • CAR        carats (10)

A carat is used to measure precious stones, notably diamonds, and is equivalent to 200 milligrams. Wood pulp is measured in content tons and some mineral ores are tracked using content kilograms.

Specialized counts

  • DOZ       dozens (709)
  • PRS        pairs (60)
  • PCS        pieces (51)
  • BBL         barrels (47)
  • DPR        dozen pairs (44)
  • GRS        gross (38)
  • THS        thousands (19)
  • DPC        dozen pieces (4)
  • HUN      hundreds (2)

It isn’t necessarily easy to count things in dozens, but try a dozen dozens, or a gross. A gross is commonly used to measure the number of glass containers.  In contrast, describing something in pieces is straightforward and is used for animal skins.

Weird

  • PFL         proof liters (14)
  • GCN       gross containers (1)
  • DS           doses (2)
  • PK           packs (1)
  • SQ          squares (1)

How many people on the street would know that gross containers are used to measure matches? Proof liters is obviously for alcohol, but squares? Wood shingles are counted in squares.

Really weird

  • CYK        clean yield kilograms (16)
  • FBM       fiber meters (2)
  • GBQ       gigabecquerels (1)
  • MBQ      megabecquerels (1)
  • KTS         total sugar kilograms (1)

The units just get more and more obscure. Clean yield kilograms measures wool and similar animal hair. Becquerels, both giga and mega are used for radioactive isotopes, and fiber meters are a way to measure the length of fiber optic cables.

Weird but not in use

  • CUR       curies
  • MC         millicuries
  • GRL        gross lines
  • IRG         iridium content grams
  • JWL        jewels
  • ODE       ozone depletion equivalent
  • MWH    megawatt hours

Who would have thought someone could export an ozone depletion equivalent. An old U.S. Census Bureau document describes it as “[a chemical’s] ozone depletion potential, expressed in terms of the depletion potential of trichlorofluoromethane (CFC-11). The ozone depletion equivalent of each chemical is calculated by multiplying its net weight, in kilograms, by the appropriate ozone depletion factor…” Exporting those is not for the faint-of-heart and is best done while wearing a lab coat and safety goggles.

Time frame set for transition of AESDirect to new system

It looks like the US government will finally replace its late-90s electronic export filing system with a more up to date application. Last week the Census Bureau announced time frames for AESDirect’s integration into the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).

Summer 2015: The account registration and export reports feature will be available. Filers and USPPI’s can begin registering for ACE accounts and request approval for access to their export data.

Fall 2015: The AESDirect application will be available for filer use. Those who have already registered for an ACE account will have access immediately and all others will need to submit an ACE account application form to access the new AESDirect filing system.

Early 2016 (tentatively): AESDirect EDI Upload and Weblink functionality will be deployed following the release of the AESDirect filing application.

[…]

The new filing application will encompass all of the features inherent in both of the current online and offline filing applications (AESDirect and AESPcLink) as well as enhancements, to include: auto-save feature, saving partial shipments, saving complete shipments for later submission, option to view interface in Spanish, user administration and the creation of profiles and templates.

More hints as to what can be expected in the upcoming application are in a broadcast from US Customs and Border Protection.

The ITDS [International Trade Data System] will allow businesses to continue to transmit in the AES the transactional data required by dozens of U.S. executive departments and agencies for the exportation of cargo. In doing so, the platform on which AES resides will be the system for the export data exchange (or “single-window”). Although AES is currently mandatory to meet the export reporting requirements of the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Industry and Security, and the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls, businesses will soon be able to submit data in AES to satisfy requirements of other agencies that currently require reporting on paper. The ITDS single window concept will improve the costly and time-consuming process by allowing businesses to submit electronic data one time in AES.

The modernized information communication infrastructure provided by the ITDS will also enable improvements to current logistics and border management processes which would, in turn, simplify the export process and facilitate enforcement of U.S. trade, security, safety, and environmental laws. Agencies will have authorized access to accurate and timely electronic export data to better orchestrate reviews and develop common risk-management policies and systems. In addition, businesses will also have authorized access to their own data through the “single window” for recordkeeping and to ensure compliance.

Keep an eye out for announcements from the Census Bureau and Customs and Border Protection on the future of AESDirect.

Seychelles joins the World Trade Organization and reduces tariffs

Seychelles national flag

Source: nationsonline.org

In March, Seychelles officially became the 161st member of the World Trade Organization. This 115-island country in the Indian Ocean ranks highly in the region in terms of per capita gross domestic product and is an attractive tourist destination.

In the course of joining the WTO, Seychelles has reduced a number of its import tariffs to open its market to new trade partners. Here are a few key product categories with newly reduced import tariff rates:

 

Product type Tariff rates before WTO accession Tariff rates after WTO accession
Edible animal products (HS ch. 5) 25 to 200% Mostly duty free, 2 items at 25%
Cut flowers and foliage (HS ch. 6) 100% 10 to 25%
Edible vegetables (HS ch. 7) 25 to 50% 15 to 25%
Edible fruits and nuts (HS ch. 8) 50 to 200% 15 to 50%
Coffee, tea, mate and spices (HS ch. 9) 50 to 200% 25%, many items duty free
Apparel and textiles 5 to 200% 5 to 25%
Cut flowers and foliage 100% 10 to 25%
Motor vehicles (HS ch. 87) 15 to 225% 5 to 25%
— Motorcycles — 75 to 125% — 15 to 25%
— Bicycles — 25% — 15%

 

The highest tariff rate Seychelles maintains is on cigars at 200 percent. Mercifully, that for toilet paper was reduced from 100 to 50 percent (or 20 percent from European Commission countries).

In 2013 Seychelles imported around $820 million worth of goods with large shares coming from Spain and France.

World trade reached record high in 2014, outlook uncertain for 2015

World trade hit a record high in 2014 with volume up 3.3 percent from 2013. According to data from CPB Netherlands’ World Trade Monitor released last week, the volume of internationally traded goods has only increased at an average rate of 2.7 percent per year since 2009. This contrasts with a 6.7 percent average annual increase from the early 90s to 2008. Emerging economies, through both greater imports and exports, have been the main sources of growth.

CPB World Trade Monitor, world merchandise trade by volume and percentage change.

Source: CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis

But so far in 2015 the outlook for world trade is mixed. The Baltic Dry Index is near a 30-year low, down 80 percent since from its high at the end of 2013. Although partially due to a shipping glut rather than decreasing volumes, Maersk, a shipper accountable for around 15 percent of global trade, is seeing a drop in demand. The company recently announced that it would cut capacity by 10 percent in 2015 for trade routes between South America’s east coast, northern Europe, and the Mediterranean.

And the Netherlands’ CPB indicates that emerging economies may be loosing steam as the engines of trade growth, as world trade has been waning in recent months primarily due to falling activity in emerging economies, a trend most notable in emerging Asia. Instead it is the larger, developed economies of the United States and Japan which are up, particularly US imports and Japanese exports. The comparatively upbeat economic outlook of these two countries may yet propel world trade to another record in 2015.