NCBFAA Discusses E-commerce and De Minimis Issues with CBP at their Annual Conference

NCBFAA Annual Conference

The National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) recently held their 45th annual conference entitled ‘Excelling in an Age of Evolution’ on April 29th in Rancho Mirage, California. The conference was joined by: Representatives from the World Customs Organization, Customs agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and other private trade and customs stakeholders.

The conference discussed a range of topics, including recent developments in e-commerce and future standards for de minimis regulations.


The release of the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) e-commerce framework in December 2017 was heavily discussed at the conference. U.S. CBP Trade Policy and Programs Executive Director, John Leonard, reiterated that the U.S. and CBP are still “hoping to lead and facilitate international e-commerce standards.” Moreover, CBP is working with the WCO to assist them in amending their proposed e-commerce framework after comments from industry stakeholders and the public sector suggested that the framework was issued too suddenly and veered outside of traditional customs responsibilities, for example into aspects of: “trade policy, trade and financial services, anti-competition issues, data privacy, and security issues.”

Leonard confirmed that CBP has developed a two-page document of 15 e-commerce standards, which he hopes the WCO Policy Council will consider, and ultimately postpone the publication of the controversial final WCO e-commerce framework.

De Minimis

Pertaining to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) in 2015, Jim Swanson, Director of the Cargo and Security Controls Division for Cargo and Conveyance Security in CBP’s Office of Field Operations, told NCBFAA annual conference attendees that CBP is now working to enhance its Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) to enable de minimis functionality, “which will provide access to previously unavailable admissibility data for the low-value shipments that are typical of e-commerce transactions.” Executive Assistant Commissioner for the CBP Office of Trade, Brenda Smith, concurred that the additional functionality was a top priority and that “there is a lot of capability that remains to be done” in ACE.

Additionally, CBP is developing strategies to encourage de minimis importers to file e-manifests and has been in discussion with Canada and Mexico to petition them for a raise in their de minimis values, which are currently $16 and $50, respectively.

E-commerce and the resulting increased volume of low-value de-minimis shipments are likely to be cornerstone themes throughout the customs and trade community in the near future, especially as CBP and the WCO build out their e-commerce strategy.

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