ACE and U.S. Customs in 2013: The Latest Regulations and Updates (3-Part Series)
A Zepol guest blog by John M. Peterson, international trade/Customs law expert and partner at Neville Peterson LLP
It is one of the world’s greatest repositories of confidential commercial information. Containing billions of business records, it is the basis for collection of substantial amounts of government revenue, the source of most Customs and Border Protection enforcement intelligence, the raw data feed for United States import and trade statistics that drive hundreds of government programs. It has been a holy sacrosanct, and government officials have protected its contents from public disclosure vigorously.
But, perhaps, not for much longer…
It is Customs’ Automated Commercial System (ACS), currently being transitioned into the agency’s online Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)
. Although the ACE transition is years behind schedule, and billions of dollars over budget, the operational parts of the system are one of the most powerful engines of business intelligence data in the world. As ACE comes closer to full operational capability, the system’s potential is breathtaking.
With a touch of a few buttons, Customs officials can see almost every aspect of a company’s import activities – the commodities they import, the identities of their suppliers, the prices they pay, the ports of entry they use, the names of their brokers, forwarders, carriers and service providers, and scores of other data points.
When Customs auditors come to review a company’s import operations, they bring with them a profile of the company that rivals, in terms of quality and detail, the finest work of Wall Street industry analysts.