New York port inspection changes cause delays
Procedural changes introduced last week at the Port of Newark-New York have caused delays for fruit imports, as all agricultural inspections now need to be taken to off-site Customs Examination Stations (CES).
A source close to www.freshfruitportal.com said the week was a "disaster" for fruit import operations in the port, with "excessive fees that the growers and importers will not be allowed to pass on in these difficult economic times".
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the changes in October, which now mean a fee for inland drayage to centralized inspection sites. Those fees are estimated to be between US$400-800, depending on the shipment.
OHL International global marketing manager Daniel Cooke says the process that came into effect on Jan. 9 means export and import containers need to be taken to one of four CES locations, but agricultural seal checks will still need to take place in the terminal.
"The carrier determines which of the four CES locations is selected and makes arrangements for the transportation. Any and all required examination types will be conducted at that chosen CES facility with no further CES location visits being required.
"This includes agricultural examinations where CBP will arrange for agricultural specialists to examine the cargo at the chosen CES facility.
Cooke has told www.freshfruitportal.com difficulties were expected during the transition period but it is hoped there will not be delays in the long run.
"When you introduce a new practice it takes time to settle down and for people to get used to it. This is the first week of implementation and the possibility of delays was always going to be present," he says.
"In the long run we do not expect any delays in importing agricultural produce into the U.S. The process should increase the CBP's ability to conduct the required inspections and streamline the overall entry and exit processes - the CPB's goal is to enhance commerce, not to put up additional barriers.
"Regardless of when they were going to introduce the policy, there was always going to be a disruption. The fact that it coincides with the peak season for many Southern Hemisphere summer fruit exports is an unfortunate coincidence - it's not a targeted thing."
Cooke says while there are fees to take containers to the centralized inspection sites, the essence of the cost structure hasn't changed.
"Costs are generally borne by the people responsible for transporting the containers, and that’s not going to be different from before."
A public meeting will be held this Wednesday to discuss the new procedures at the New York Shipping Association's Training Center at 10am.
The CBP sent a statement to www.freshfruitportal.com highlighting that a working group began meeting regularly in November 2010 to discuss CES renewal efforts, as a Memoranda of Understanding between the CBP and seven CES operators was due to expire in December 2011.
"The working group reached a consensus to move CBP examinations being conducted on the container terminals, including non-intrusive inspection and agriculture examinations, to CES facilities," the statement said.
"The group including trade stakeholders agreed this move would improve productivity, be cost effective and expedite CBP's delivery of services to the trade.
The CPB claims the new regulation will carry the following benefits:
- Reduce CBPO and agriculture specialist travel times
- Allow the consolidation of CBP manpower and resources
- Provide more expeditious processing of containers requiring examination
- Reduced delays in cargo release and improved cost effectiveness for the trade community.
Photo: Port Technology