CBP had planned to stimulate more carriers to use the electronic truck manifest component of the Automated Customs Environment (ACE) by stepping up enforcement of what is called Phase 4 of the Trade Act. Both the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) had expressed concerns about meeting the requirements.
Had CBP begun enforcement of Phase 4, those carriers not participating in the truck manifest component of ACE would not have been permitted into the U.S. r if complete data had not been received by CBP in advance of truck arrival at the border. Though carriers have been preparing for compliance with ACE for some time, CTA notes that it is a lengthy and challenging process.
“The postponement in enforcement is not only a huge relief for the trucking industry in Canada,” says CTA CEO David Bradley, “It is also the prudent thing to do. As long as carriers have sufficient time to put in place the changes necessary to comply with mandatory truck manifest requirements, and CBP continues to work with carriers to address and resolve outstanding issues, the transition need not be difficult.”
Stepped up enforcement was to have been at ports where ACE is currently available, busy places including Detroit and Port Huron, Mich. And Blaine, Wash. Although CBP has not set a date when the truck manifest component of ACE will be mandatory, it is expected that the deadline will occur this year.
Bradley has noted that many of the constraints facing U.S.-based carriers are confronting Canadians, as well. For one thing, “The driver shortage has worsened and will become more acute in the year ahead,” he says. “For the first time ever, in 2005 the number of drivers over 55 years of age outnumbered those under 30 years old. Capacity will continue to be tight, even if there is some sluggishness in some sectors of the economy.”