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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 22 No. 33
Wednesday September 20, 2023

Compliance At EMO Trans

Sven Frigger

     Historically freight forwarders assisted traders with facilitation as their expertise suggested, in particular with the paperwork required to move cargo across borders. Principally this had to do with Customs and Excise; stricter safety and security measures came as additional load in relatively recent times. In many countries freight forwarders and Customs brokers developed contiguous trades and flourished on both sides. In the last fifty years the regulatory workload has been increasing, in particular after 9/11, strict compliance has become an obligation traders cannot ignore. This inevitably added pressure on the accomplished freight forwarder, hence its commercial offer includes today a sizeable portion pertaining to compliance.
     Freight forwarders need to be aware of various government compliance issues, including Customs regulations, import and export restrictions, security protocols, documentation requirements, hazardous materials regulations, and any applicable trade agreements or sanctions. In addition Air freight forwarders are subject to additional requirement imposed by a mode of transport where any irregularity can be fatal. Staying up-to-date with these regulations and maintaining accurate records is crucial to ensure smooth and legal international cargo movement.
     At the EMO Trans event in Florida, FT had the rare opportunity to discuss this crucial item with Sven Frigger (our late friend Jo Frigger’s son), who is in charge of compliance in the family business.
     What follows is an interview with a person who lives through compliance from within. It may even sound surprising to some of us, who are less exposed to the strict requirements of security compliance. Sven will take you by the hand and walk you through the complicated processes as lightly as this critical activity can be made.
Dee Jones, Renee Villanueva, Tammy James, Sven Frigger, Stacie Countryman, Nikki Girouard and Danny Allen

FT:   How do you stay updated on changes in Customs regulations and requirements?
SF:   At EMO Trans we have a great compliance team and all deserve to be recognized from the outset. Our team consists of myself as VP of Compliance / PIASCS / PPSC / PCSC; Stacie Countryman – Corporate Export Compliance Manager / AIACSC / APSC; Dee Jones – Assistant Vice President of Customs Brokerage Manager / LCB / CCS; Renee Villanueva – Corporate Sustainability Manager; Tammy James – Corporate Quality Systems Manager / ISO / Import Operations Compliance; Nikki Girouard – Corporate Customs Compliance Specialist / LCB / CCS and Lauren “Danny” Allen – Corporate Administrative Assistant / AIACSC.
     We all sit on various industry groups and committees specific to our functions within the company and in the industry in general. For example, I host a monthly meeting with, the Transport Security Administration (TSA) Advisory group, along with Thom Martin from FedEx (who chairs the committee). These are closed sessions with TSA Headquarters, in which challenges between TSA’s requirements and Industry’s implementation are discussed by a small group of experts in order to come up with workable solutions. Any of those discussions are Sensitive Security Information (SSI): all I can say is that we have a great working relationship with our Government partners in dealing with the concerns of the industry.
     This is an example of how we stay abreast of the changing regulatory landscape. The entire EMO Compliance Team members act in proactive engagement with the various government entities that have export/import control authority.
     Where possible, I believe that being an active participant in the regulatory decisions that are made in DC, is one of the best ways to stay updated on regulatory requirements. Being part of pilot program initiatives, attending industry conferences – engagement and communication! It is all good and fine to “know” the latest and greatest, the knowledge has to be communicated and trained on as well.
     In addition to sitting on various industry groups and committees, I also helped organize, along with Sommer Sampson (formerly of JAS), and Dee Jones of EMO – AIFBA Treasurer – the 2nd annual Export Compliance Conference in Atlanta this year with 300 attendees, a great turnout. At the conference, focused on export compliance, we were able to get speakers from TSA, (Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Dept. of Commerce, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)/Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS), the Census Bureau, as well Air Carriers and legal experts.

FT:   Can you provide examples of recent shipments where you successfully navigated complex Customs procedures?
SF:   A client had previously imported through an integrator where the shipment value was low. Once they saw that their product was selling, they chose EMO Trans to move their cargo and clear it through Customs and other agencies. We were able to work with them and get them totally compliant with CBP, FDA, Tax and Trade Bureau for tobacco related products (TTB), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US dept. of Agriculture (USDA). To accomplish this, we had to move the cargo to our Customs Exam Site (CES) to have one item destroyed as the importer did not have the proper TTB. While CBP was overseeing the destruction, they noticed that the shipment included un-manifested personal effects: we had to work with our origin office to get the cargo manifested, with a separate entry into the USA. The importer had no idea of how complicated importing is until we educated him on this process.
     Also, the war in Ukraine put additional light on the need for expert knowledge, and the tools to implement that knowledge base with great due diligence, an area where EMO really shines in the realm of compliance. Our team’s proactive action is key to avoid costly delays, holds, inspections, and even possible accidental criminal charges, protecting not just EMO, but all our customers and partners.

FT:   What documentation do you typically handle for international shipments, and how do you ensure its accuracy and completeness?
SF:   We handle Commercial invoices, packing lists, Shipper’s instructions, commerce and state department licenses and (Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) permits, Powers of Attorney (POA’s) and other contractual documents. At the end of the day, being the Automated Export System (AES) filer in export scenarios, we are ultimately reliant upon the information that is provided to us by the Shipper/Consignee. The information that is provided has to be vetted: we have a responsibility to catch errors in shipping documentation. One of the primary guidance sources that we have is the Red Flags put out by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Without going into detail, accuracy and completeness does not end at what is printed on the documents, but also on keeping an eye out for “unusual” activity, researching the parties involved in a particular transaction.      We do have a robust system in place, which involves automated entity screening, but also the collective knowledge of the team: “After doing this for long enough you get a good gut instinct for when something just doesn’t seem right.”

FT:   What measures do you take to prevent and address Customs delays or issues?
SF:   Addressing possible issues beforehand, open and clear communication with customers and operations, go a long way to minimize CBP delays. Proactively sending BIS-711 – End User Declarations – in advance for shipments where we know they may be asked for eventually is an example.
     I like to think of the compliance team as more of an educational tool for our customers, rather than having a “policing” function in the company. Ultimately it is about educating all those involved and help to make the whole operation run more safely, securely and in the end more smoothly.

FT:   Are you familiar with any special Customs programs or trade agreements that could benefit the movement of shipments?
SF:   From my specific perspective, being heavily involved in Exports Compliance and more specifically TSA, the fact that the (Impracticable to Screen) ITS amendment TSA once issued is sun setting on October 31st of this year. . . The Shipper-CCSF program is a great way for current shippers of ITS cargo to ensure that they do not get delays or rejections when trying to get that type of cargo loaded aboard an aircraft. Here again, our direct connection with TSA HQ is key.      We are aware of all available programs and agreements, e.g. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), USA, Mexico and Canada (USMCA), by which our importers can legally take advantage of lesser or no duty. The key is to make sure that they do qualify and that they can provide proof, if CBP were to inquire.

FT:   What steps do you take to ensure compliance with security protocols and cargo screening procedures?
SF:   All of our stations are certified to handle screened cargo and again EMO Trans currently has 3 Certified Screening Facilities in the US, with one more coming on board next month. These protocols are obviously all considered SSI, so there is not much detail I can give; suffice it to say that the most advanced technology is in place. Some commodities and packaging are more challenging than others, but we always work to find the right solution for the task at hand, thanks to our connection with TSA.

FT:   How do you handle Customs audits or inquiries from government authorities?
SF:   There is just one way of doing it: with openness and transparency. We work well with our various auditors (ISO, CTPAT, TSA, etc.) I find that on the Government side and the industry side, we all truly just want to help one another. Ultimately it is all about keeping the traveling community, and all others, safe. When cargo moves from origin to destination and no one was injured, or worse because of a specific shipment, then we have done a successful job. We also have some cases where we worked really well with our government and (Law Enforcement Officers) LEOs to thwart bad actors. It’s a good feeling to know that you helped to make the world a little bit safer.

FT:   In terms of TSA compliance, which is a whole another segment of compliance for a forwarder, what protocols does EMO Trans have?
SF:   I cannot really answer any of these questions in detail as they would all divulge SSI. That said, Emo Trans and TSA work very closely together on multiple fronts. I am personally involved in high level TSA meetings, including TSA related industry committees. Stacie Countryman, along with Lauren “Danny” Allen are an integral part of that aspect of the compliance team as well.
     As of now, we have not experienced any breaches of security or had the need to report any incidents to CISA. DHS has implemented a new procedure for Incident Reporting as the cyber security landscape continues to be a highly volatile environment. There are new threats every day, every minute. Our IT team does an excellent job of keeping our data, and that of our customers, secure.

FT:   We heard your department involves Sustainability and Standards issues, too. Could you tell us a bit more about these?
SF:   Regarding our Sustainability Initiative, supply chain industries are facing pressure not just to improve their own practice, but to evaluate their business partners on the basis of their commitment to sustainable practices. For instance, in 2022 the EU approved the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS): new mandatory reporting standards for all companies operating in EU member states.
     Like our clients, we conduct business globally, and seek both to act with integrity and to comply with all local regulations, of which the ESRS is just one example. We are committed to adapting to these ever-evolving requirements, to provide our clients and business partners with guidance.
     EMO Trans has implemented a GHG emissions calculator, which enables us not only to calculate our own emissions, but also to provide customers calculations on their own supply chain impacts, where EMO is involved. These are just the first small steps in a much broader plan to move further into a sustainable business model, environmental being just one part of that equation. Looking at standardization, we should not forget our ISO Initiative. As of 2022 EMO USA has certified 6 offices against the ISO 9001:2015 standard. It is our ultimate goal to have all USA offices in compliance with the ISO 9001 standard in the coming years. By doing so EMO Trans USA is letting our customers know that we hold ourselves highly accountable for what we say we are going to do and how we handle their shipments. Implementing standard practices within our organization offers the type of consistency that benefits both EMO Trans as a whole and our customers. It ensures that processes within our business are shared and understood.
     Let me stop here, this has been a factual journey through compliance, at least as implemented in EMO Trans. My feeling is the Compliance Team really works on a collective effort, within the team itself and with the EMO Trans organization as a whole. Perhaps, I could add that it is the one department in our organization where we do not see other companies in our industry as competitors, but rather as like-minded individuals with the goal of making the supply chain safer for everybody. We all benefit from one another’s experience and knowledge. Sharing crucial information in a collaborative manner makes us all better, which ultimately results in a more positive experience for each individual customer.

If You Missed Any Of The Previous 3 Issues Of FlyingTypers
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