U.S. customs broker A.N. Deringer warns that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) prioritizes which trade issues to look at, based on a strategic risk-management approach and the potential impact of non-compliance. These issues range from agricultural programs to antidumping, textiles, intellectual property rights, penalties, and import safety to trade agreements.

Recently, CBP has committed a stronger focus to trade agreements. CBP officials recently stated that they have found through North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) verification that a high percentage of claims can’t be verified and are, therefore, considered inaccurate. As a result of their findings, CBP plans to conduct far more NAFTA reviews. In most cases, CBP will not grant any extensions of time to supply the requested proof, because NAFTA rules demand that the analysis to support NAFTA claims be done prior to the signing of a NAFTA certificate. Accordingly, proof of NAFTA should be readily available upon request.  Failure to timely prove NAFTA eligibility could result in the denial of the NAFTA claim and/or the opening of an investigation or penalty action.

Deringer recommends that importers and exporters evaluate their NAFTA and other trade agreement claims and also ensure that they have the appropriate documentation to substantiate their specific trade agreement claims prior to the signing of a certificate or prior to accepting one supplied by another party.