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What Transportation Professionals Need to Know About the U.S.-Mexico Border Situation

What Transportation Professionals Need to Know About the U.S.-Mexico Border Situation

On March 27, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a notice detailing the re-assignment of over 750 officers from various ports of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border to help process people crossing the border. This past weekend, rhetoric increased significantly regarding the potential of closing the border completely. While this threat is not new, it certainly feels different this time around, and specifically raises questions for those involved in regular cross border freight movements. With the news that Secretary Nielsen is cutting short a trip to Europe, what can supply chain professionals anticipate regarding cross-border operations?

Fluid announcements

We have seen over the course of this administration that policy is often refined and revised from the first announcement or tweet to the final policy implementation. It is clear that the White House has received tremendous feedback from businesses regarding the impacts of border delays and closures across the country. It appears that some type of new policy is being seriously considered at the border, but as of today the final details are still to be determined.

Scenario planning

While we may not know if and how policy may change and impact freight for a few days or weeks, we can scenario plan for a reasonable number of outcomes. Some of those may be:

-A temporary total closure that aims to extract policy goals much like the government shutdown in January

-A partial closure at the border based on type of vehicle, product, or mode

-A partial closure at the border based on port of entry or days of the week to reassign more resources to processing people

-Continued uncertainty as policy making is delayed

Supply chain strategies

In addition, supply chain professionals can consider the following strategies to mitigate U.S.-Mexico border delays in an uncertain atmosphere:

Look for opportunities to convert modes of services

With possible closures effecting ports of entry along the U.S. southern border, additional planning will be needed. Work with your account managers and transportation service providers to review time critical and urgent freight shipments. Access a broad network of transportation modes to mitigate against the risk of closures by leveraging air and rail services to make sure your freight keeps moving.

Utilize warehouses and secured carrier yards as drop points

Should your freight get stuck at the border due to the closure, make sure your transportation service provider has secure trailer yards and warehouses to temporarily store your shipment. If the freight can be delayed prior to dispatch, consider holding the shipment at your facility to diminish unplanned demurrages and delay in transit.

Get your customs documents in order

Work with both your U.S. and Mexican customs broker to pre-validate all customs documents prior to dispatching your shipment. Additional delays can be avoided once the ports of entry open by making sure all paperwork is correct and ready to be transmitted immediately to customs. This includes verifying all commercial invoices, certificates of origins, POAs, Bills of Lading, and special import/export permits.

Actively communicate with your procurement team

Make sure that all internal team members and external customers understand the current volatility and are validating purchase orders before being shipped to or from the border. Should port of entries close, and commercial traffic disrupted, freight arriving to the border without prior preparation could experience significant clearance delays.

Resources to monitor the situation

C.H. Robinson will be issuing a client advisory daily on the U.S.-Mexico border situation with both on the ground updates regarding port delays and operational impacts, as well as policy updates from Washington, D.C.

Livingston International Launches New Cross-Border Trade App

Toronto, Canada – Truck drivers delivering commercial shipments across the Canada-U.S. border have a new ally to reduce their wait time at Customs: the Livingston International Tracker app.

The app is specifically designed for carriers, giving drivers the information they need on the clearance status of their shipments as quickly as possible.

Both the U.S. Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS) and the Canadian Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) are optimized for mobile on Livingston’s Tracker app, keeping drivers informed of their shipment’s status no matter where they are.

Livingston’s Speed Scanner functionality enables truck drivers to use a simple barcode scan to check shipment status, with no need to type in barcodes.

For shipments without a barcode, the driver simply keys in the shipment information to find the shipment status. There is no longer a need to phone a dispatcher and wait for them to check the status.

The app also features “set and forget” functionality for shipments entering Canada, so truckers can get PARS shipment alerts with the click of a button.

For even more speed and convenience, carriers can also opt for SMS and/or e-mail shipment updates.

The Tracker app is available for download on iOS, Android and Blackberry. Livingston has also updated their tracking web pages so they are fully optimized for mobile.

In addition to offering Customs clearance and trade compliance services, Livingston International also offers trade consulting, global trade management and international freight forwarding.

Livingston employs over 3,200 staff at 125 key border points, sea ports, airports and other strategic locations across North America, Europe and Asia.


New Rules Tie Up US, Mexico Border Crossing

Los Angeles, CA – The recent decision by Mexican Customs to drastically trim the hours of operation at the critical Santa Teresa, New Mexico, port of entry “will help streamline the flow of international trade,” Mexican Customs officials have said, despite the fact that the move has created major gridlock.

Mexico’s Tax Administration began reducing hours in all its customs offices along the US border on July 4 in a move they said would “help them to better utilize staff, technology and infrastructure for the processing of merchandise.”

But Mexican citizens returning to Mexico with used vehicles purchased in the US through Santa Teresa say the new hours have them waiting in lines that stretch for a long as a mile for hours or even overnight to get across the border.

Drivers must hand over the vehicle title to US Customs and Border Protection for authentication at least 72 hours prior to export to prevent trafficking of stolen vehicles.

After that, the vehicle has to be exported within seven days. The increased congestion has been compounded by the fact that commercial cargo-carrying trucks going south have to share the same highway.

Inexpensive used and even damaged cars and trucks from the US and Canada are popular with Mexican consumers.

According to the Mexican Association of Automotive Dealerships, an estimated 7.5 million vehicles have been imported to Mexico since a NAFTA provision led to the border being open to vehicles in 2005. More than 226,000 were imported through May of this year, according to US Customs.

Santa Teresa, reports the Albuquerque Journal,  is the only port of entry with a lane for processing vehicles and is thus considered one of the busiest ports of entry on the US-Mexico border.

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection officials said none of the same gridlock has been reported in ports of entry in California, Texas or Arizona.

Mexican Customs officials were not available for comment.


New Six-Lane Trade Bridge to Link US, Canada

Detroit, MI – A new US-Canadian authority will oversee the construction, operation and maintenance of a proposed six-lane bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

The Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority is a non-profit “Crown Corporation” that will report to Ottawa as it manages the project for the New International Trade Crossing.

The authority “will be in charge of preparing the sites and managing the procurement process to select a private-sector partner that will carry out the work, according to Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.

The agency will also be responsible for setting and collecting tolls, she said.

“The new bridge is needed for growing trade and for growing traffic at Canada’s busiest US commercial border crossing,” said Raitt, adding the project is expected to create thousands of jobs in the coming years.

The next step, she said, involves securing funding for a US Customs facility, along with acquiring land on the US side.

“The project will provide an essential new alternative crossing for Canada’s Continental Gateway and trade corridor,” according to a Canadian government website.

The project, it said, includes a new six-lane bridge across the Detroit River between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan, associated border inspection plazas, and connections to the freeway systems in Ontario and Michigan.”

The bridge is scheduled to open in 2020 and is reportedly being funded by the Canadian government, which has earmarked $2 billion to the project.

According to observers, the total cost of the project could reach as much as $4 billion that would include work on freeway interchanges, Canadian and US Customs plazas, and additional infrastructure work.

The final permit for the project was issued last month after a US court rejected a request for an injunction filed by the private company that owns the existing Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit with Windsor.

Another panel, the Canada-Michigan International Authority, is also being formed to approve key steps in the public-private partnership and the purchase of the required land in Michigan, Riatt said.