Government Affairs Conference - 2011

Posted October 4, 2011
The NCBFAA held their Government Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, DC September 18th through September 20th. The conference provides J.W. Allen & Company with the opportunity to speak directly with industry leaders gaining firsthand knowledge and insight on how trade related issues and pending legislation may impact our industry.

J.W. Allen & Company's own Billy App, Kristi App and Jerry Becnel met with a total of nine Louisiana legislators discussing national and local trade issues. On a national level, the passage of the long delayed Free Trade Agreements (FTA's) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea, the renewal of GSP, the proper funding of Customs Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and the support of the RAMP Act for maintaining our national ports and harbors took precedence.

When discussing the passage of the various FTA's, the overall positive impact of these agreements in terms of job creation and economic growth were touted. All legislators visited were supportive of the passage of the pending FTA's.

All businesses are required to update their I.T. systems from time to time and CBP is no exception. In 1999 CBP began developing the ACE system to modernize their internal entry processing functionality. As CBP processes approximately 65,000 entries per day nationwide, the development of a new entry processing system is no easy undertaking. The evolution of the ACE system is at a critical juncture with the development of the core entry processing functionality being the next major step in the development process. While Congress debates over additional funding of the ACE program, the timely funding of ACE has never been more critical to acheiving a fully functional and modern entry processing system. Legislators have acknowledged the need for funding ACE development but feel securing funds from Congress will be an uphill battle.

A regional concern for the proper dredging of the Mississippi River turned into a national issue with the NCBFAA asking all GAC members to promote the RAMP Act on the Hill. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) was established to directly fund the maintenance and dredging of our nation's port system and harbors. Without the proper dredging vessels are unable to properly execute the movement of the goods. The funds presently collected under the HMTF are placed into the "general" fund and are used to address issues other than their intended purpose. The RAMP Act is designed to ensure all HMTF funds collected are dispersed to the proper parties and are used for their intended purpose.

Best Regards

Jerry Becnel
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