At the AAEI Annual Conference going on in D.C. right now, CBP has made several statements about its direction which are hopeful, if not somewhat eye-opening. First, trade in the last fiscal year increased yet again. Exports totaled $1.3 trillion and imports $2.3 trillion.

It was also refreshing to hear CBP acknowledge that an efficient supply chain plus secure trade flows equates to economic competitiveness. On the other hand, it is now clear the legacy computer system, the Automated Cargo System, will cease operating at the end of 2016, which is presumably the fiscal year not the calendar year, although that point was not clarified.

CBP did spend a bit of timing explaining its roll out process is now tied to the Agility approach, meaning every two weeks an update to the product for a particular purpose is presented internally (called a sprint), leading to quicker product completion and roll outs to the trade. With exports, there will be six (6) such sprints. So, by the end of the year, CBP expects to retire the Automated Export System and instead be able to use ACE (the Automated Commercial Environment). License validation fields are being expanded to include value (less transportation and insurance) plus ultimate consignee and advanced export information (AEI) data. AEI was described as a hybrid between Option 3 and 4 wherein some data is reported pre-departure and the rest post-departure, but the post-departure period will be shortened from 10 to 5 days. Besides providing a modern system for interface with the trade and its partner government agencies, CBP expects the new set-up to be beneficial to its own operation because it will bring licensing, shipment and manifest data into one computer program, but then company history is also expected to be available to the individual CBP Officer to do his or her risk assessment.