Because of these impending changes, I asked five brokers, three Mexican Customs Brokers and two U.S. Customs Brokers working the Laredo POE, what they believed these changes really mean.
1. If the Mexican Customs Broker no longer needs to handle Mexican inbound shipments from the United States on the U.S side, why does the broker still cause southbound cargo movements into Mexico to stop in Laredo and wait for his Pedimento de Importacion to be issued releasing the cargo to cross into Mexico?
Broker Response: The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2015. Therefore, until it take effect, the normal process of stopping the southbound shipment on the U.S. side to wait for a Mexican Customs Broker to inspect the cargo and produce a Pedimento will remain in effect since the Broker, at this time, is still responsible for any discrepancies and fines that may be assessed by Aduana. The purpose of the law is to create options for qualified companies experienced in imports and exports to streamline the cross-border process to provide a more competitive business environment.
2. Is it true that the concept of "legal representative" of the importer or exporter is a realistic option of avoiding the use of a Mexican Customs Broker?
Broker Response: Yes, beginning on January 1, 2015 exporters and importers will have the option of avoiding the use of a Mexican Customs Broker. The Mexican Customs Broker has been eliminated only for cross-border purposes, however. In January, importers and exporters will have the option of continuing their use of a Mexican Broker or appoint an employee to serve in that function. The legal representative must be a natural person of Mexican nationality, be knowledgeable in foreign trade matters and pass the Mexican Customs examination.
Additionally, the company will be responsible for what its legal representative does on its behalf. Finally, Pedimentos will not disappear under the new law. Thus, the in-house legal representative will have to produce the Pedimento and be bound by its requirements and any potential consequence involved in its use such as fines regarding faulty classification, quantity of goods shipped and other information stated on the Pedimento such as HTS codes, weights, trailer/container number, seal number and more.
3. Since the Mexican Customs Broker can now file a Pedimento electronically, is there any impact on whether he actually inspects the cargo?
Broker Response: Electronic Pedimentos have been in use for several years now and Brokers should still examine all loads because they are responsible for everything stated on the Pedimento. However another Customs Broker said that in Mexican export process from Mexico, the Customs Broker does not have to see the cargo to file the Pedimento. Only the automotive industry and some "certified" maquiladoras can benefit from using the despacho en origin (shipped from origin) declaration and avoid inspections at the border because they are allowed to amend most discrepancies discovered.
4. What is the expected role of the drop lots or Pensiones under the new law?
Broker Response: It seems they will continue to serve as they do now, providing an area at the border on the Mexican side for motor carriers that do not have their own yard or facilities at the border.
5. Given the new law, is it reasonable to expect that a firm using an in-house legal representative would use and emphasize the importance of supply chain security, specifically container security like the new "chain-of-custody" system that identifies the person at origin certifying the proper cargo, its monitoring during its movement, detecting and reporting any openings of or breaches into the conveyance, and more, to include the identity of the person opening the conveyance at destination?
Broker Response: Yes, because the firm will now be responsible for any discrepancy as the Mexican Customs Brokers are today. Based on this, it is expected that more attention will be paid to supply chain security which would protect the legal representative and his or her firm.