How Do I Report a Foreign Trade Zone with Upcoming Regulatory Changes?

By: Michael Simmons

Did you know in addition to Foreign Trade Zones having a general purpose zone and a sub zone, that some zones also have a site location?  Previously only importers were required to report the site identification number as part of the FTZ identifier.  Effective April 5, 2014, exporters will now also be required to report site locations using the full seven digit reporting format in the Automated Export System.

When exporters report in-bond code 67 (withdrawn for immediate export), or in-bond code 68 (withdrawn for transportation & exportation), you are required to provide a FTZ identifier.  Failure to report will generate a fatal error response message.  The new FTZ identifier format is shown below.

FTZ number imageWhen exporting merchandise from a FTZ, use the following examples below to ensure accurate reporting:

  • If FTZ 128 does not have a subzone or site location, the correct format would be 1280000.
  • If FTZ 128 does not have a subzone but a site location of 02, the correct format would be 1280002.
  • If FTZ 128 has a subzone of D but does not have a site location, the correct format would be 1280D00.
  • If FTZ 128 has a subzone D and a site of 02, the correct format would be 1280D02. AESDirect will be updated to comply with the new regulations.  If you use another software, make sure the software is updated by April 5, 2014 so that it allows you to report the required seven-digit format.

If you have questions regarding FTZs, contact the Data Collection Coordination Branch at 301-763-2259.  In addition, you can visit the following websites for more information U.S. Foreign-Trade Zones Board and National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones.


Posted in Export Filing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2013 Trade Deficit the Lowest Since 2009

By: Jeff McHugh

The Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $471.5 billion in 2013 from $534.7 billion in 2012.  Exports increased $61.7 billion to $2.3 trillion in 2013.  Increases of $7.1 billion in industrial supplies and materials and $6.8 billion in consumer goods contributed to the overall increase in exports. Increases in exports of fuel oil, petroleum products, natural gas, and crude oil drove the increase in industrial supplies and materials.  Increases in gem diamonds and cell phones drove the increase in consumer goods.  Imports decreased $1.4 billion to $2.7 trillion in 2013.  A $49.0 billion decrease in imports of industrial supplies and materials was the main contributor to the overall decrease.   Specifically, imports of crude oil decreased by $40.3 billion.

There were many annual trade highlights in 2013.  The 2013 goods and services deficit was the lowest since 2009.  2013 exports of goods and services ($2,272.3 billion) were the highest on record.   The 2013 deficit with China ($318.4 billion) and surplus with South and Central America ($25.8 billion) were the highest on record.  You can find these and many more highlights on our Annual Press Highlights page.

December Graph of the Month

Our December Graph of the Month highlights the record annual surplus with South and Central America.  As you can see in the graph, the U.S. trade balance with South and Central America has gone from a $5.5 billion deficit in 2011 to a $25.8 billion surplus in 2013.

December 2013 Graph of the Month

December 2013 Graph of the Month

Monthly Trade Deficit Increased in December

In December, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $38.7 billion as exports decreased and imports increased. Exports decreased $3.5 billion to $191.3 billion in December, due in part to a decrease in industrial supplies and materials ($1.1 billion). Imports increased $0.6 billion to $230.0 billion, led by a $0.7 billion increase in consumer goods.  December imports of consumer goods ($45.7 billion) were the highest on record.

As far as highlights go, December continued a recent trend with a third month in a row of record high exports of petroleum ($13.5 billion).

You can find more U.S. trade data online by visiting USATradeOnline. If you are a first time user, you are eligible for a one-week (7-day) free trail.

Posted in Foreign Trade Data | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Miss Out on the Advanced Export Information (AEI) Pilot Program

By: Sean Kline

The Census Bureau just announced its Advanced Export Information (AEI) pilot program via a federal register notice. The AEI pilot is a voluntary program that enables U.S. Principal Parties in Interests (USPPIs) to obtain an Internal Transaction Number (ITN) after submitting a limited amount of data elements. This will allow companies to provide significantly less information before receiving an ITN. The USPPI then has five calendar days to submit the remaining Electronic Export Information (EEI).

What is Required Before Shipment Departure?
The goal of this program is to give participants added reported flexibility while providing the government with the information needed for cargo screening. Only the following data elements are required predeparture:

  1. USPPI Information
    i. Name of the USPPI
    ii. Address of the USPPI
    iii. USPPI identification number
    iv. Contact information
  2. Ultimate Consignee Information
  3. Commodity Classification Number
  4. Commodity Description
  5. Port of Export
  6. Date of Export
  7. Carrier Identification
  8. Conveyance Name/Carrier Name
  9. License Code/License Exemption Code
  10. Shipment Reference Number

Some elements will be required based on the conditions of each shipment. These are:

  1. Authorized agent’s identification number (if an authorized agent is filing)
  2. Export Control Classification Number (ECCN) (if shipment is non-licensable and postdeparture filing is specifically permitted)

How Can I Participate?
If you would like to take advantage of this new program, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. Be a USPPI (sorry, no authorized agents)
  2. Have 12 months of export reporting history
  3. Report a minimum of ten shipments per month (we’ll consider seasonal exporters on a case-by-case basis)
  4. Have maintained an acceptable level of compliance over the past 12 months
  5. Be compliant with all other federal regulations related to international trade

Don’t Miss Out
In order to be considered for the AEI pilot program, read the AEI Pilot Application Process and Acceptance section in the federal register notice.

If you would like to find out more information, give us at call at 800-549-0595 Opt. 3.

Posted in Foreign Trade Regulations | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s This I Hear About the AESTIR?

By: Sean Kline

searching in a folderIf you’ve heard about a thing called the AESTIR (ey-steer), but don’t know exactly what it is, then this is the blog for you. The Automated Export System Trade Interface Requirements (AESTIR) defines the data requirements that are reported to the Automated Export System (AES). It’s a valuable resource for anyone and a must read if you’re developing your own software for AES filing.

The AESTIR is divided into 4 parts:

  • Part I contains general information needed to understand how and why the AES was developed; it also explains who can participate in AES.
  • Part II describes the different formats accepted for commodity and vessel transportation data.
  • Part III contains 23 appendices which assist the user in programming, testing, reporting, and understanding the export requirements.
  • Part IV contains instructions on what to do if the AES is down.

For the sake of brevity,  allow me to highlight some of the most helpful appendices found in Part III:

  • Appendices A & B –Filing Response Messages: An extensive list of all possible error response codes, their severity, an explanation of why an error occurred, and how to resolve it.
  • Appendix C – ISO Country Codes: A list of all two-character country codes as issued by the International Standards Organization (ISO). You can find ISO codes on our website.
  • Appendix E – Commodity Filing Export Information Codes: An Export Information Code (EIC) is a mandatory field that indicates the type or condition of the shipped item(s).  Examples include “IW” for shipments to international waters, “CH” or “CI” for shipments donated for charity, and “FS” or “FI” for foreign military sales.
  • Appendix F – License and License Exemption Type Codes: The License Code/License Exemption Code indicates the type of export license, export permit, license exemption, license exception or other export authorization. Examples include “C33” for No License Required (NLR), S05 for a DSP-5 license, and “T11” for an Office of Foreign Assets Control general export license.
  • Appendix K – Unit of Measure Codes: This provides the abbreviations for different units of measure such as “BBL” for Barrels and the always perplexing “NO” for Number (not to be confused with “X” which denotes that no unit of measure is required).
  • Appendix S – AES Acronyms and Definitions: This contains Table A, which lists AES Acronyms and Table B, which lists AES Definitions.

If any of this information sounds useful to you,  go to the CBP website at  for the complete AESTIR.

Posted in Export Filing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Year, New Export Markets!

By: Leandro Solorzano, US Commercial Service

1 International Business






What countries will make it onto your international business plan for 2014?

During the recent recession, companies who were selling to foreign markets fared better than those who only sold domestically. Is exporting part of your business strategy? If not, you should look closer into the benefits of exporting and how it can help your business grow and become more resilient to changes in the economy. If you are already exporting, to what new countries will you be introducing your products in 2014?

You don’t have to look far to find promising export markets for your products/services. With an increasing number of Free Trade Agreements between the United States and South/Central American countries in the past few years, trade between the U.S. and Colombia, Panama, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru is booming. These countries now constitute some of the largest markets for U.S. exports. In 2012, Colombia was the 3rd largest market in Latin America and 22nd largest market globally. Additionally, these five Latin American countries alone account for at least US $60 billion dollars’ worth of exports from the United States, with a wide range of exports varying from the services sector to machinery and agricultural goods.

Colombia, Peru, and Chile are some of the fastest growing economies in the region, integrating well within the global economy by opening up their markets to many countries and maintaining a stable political and business environment. Competition of foreign products in these countries however is low, with a high degree of acceptance of U.S. products. The United States has the dominant share of the import markets of these countries, and the projected growth of trade and investment in this region is unlimited.

If these countries seem like good options for your 2014 export plan then join Trade Winds – The Americas, a premier trade mission and trade conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. It will take place in Bogota, Colombia, with optional stops in Panama, Ecuador, Peru, and Chile, from May 15 through May 23, 2014.

Participating companies will be able to schedule business to business meetings with potential partners as well as be a part of a dynamic trade conference featuring business leaders who are successfully doing business in the region. Companies will also have a chance to meet one-on-one with Senior Commercial Officers from U.S. Embassies from across the Americas who will provide feedback on market potential to help develop each company’s international business plan. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity. Learn more here or contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center.

The U.S. Commercial Service is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. Specialists from the Commercial Service can help you overcome challenges in the market and reach specific goals.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November Trade and Typhoon Haiyan

By: Shannon O’Brien

In November, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $34.3 billion as exports increased and imports decreased. Exports grew $1.7 billion to a record high $194.9 billion during November in part due to an increase in industrial supplies and materials ($0.7 billion). Imports decreased $3.4 billion to $229.1 billion led by a $4.3 billion decrease in industrial supplies and materials. The November goods and services deficit was the lowest since October 2009.

Philippines Trade

In early November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan hit Southeast Asia and devastated the Philippines. In order to help our data users assess the impact of Haiyan on trade with the Philippines, November’s graph of the month shows monthly trade data through November 2013 with the Philippines.  As you can see from October to November, exports increased $0.2 billion while imports declined $0.4 billion. The highest increases in exports included civilian aircraft ($147.9 million), animal feeds ($31.1 million), soybeans ($29.7 million), wheat ($20.2 million), and coal and fuels ($18.7 million).

You can visit here for more information on shipping charity goods to the Philippines. Would you like to see any special trade reports on Typhoon Haiyan? Please leave a comment and let us know.

You can find more import and export data online by visiting USATradeOnline. If you are a first time user, you are eligible for a one-week (7-day) free trail.

Posted in Foreign Trade Data | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Commodity Spotlight: U.S. Military Exports

By: Chuck Avery

One interesting aspect of U.S. trade is the export of military goods.* This trade increased over the last decade from $8.3 billion in 2002 to a peak value of $18.8 billion in 2012. Note that this does not include shipments to the U.S. military overseas. Most U.S. exports of military goods went to Asia, primarily Japan and South Korea.


Source: USA Trade Online

Last year, 70% of U.S. exports of military goods were related to military aircraft—fighter jets, helicopters, engines, launching gear, and above all, aircraft parts. In fact, at 35% of all U.S. military exports in 2012, the export value for military aircraft parts exceeded the export value for intact aircraft.

The large portion of spare parts in U.S. military exports is one surprise. Another is that if aircraft-related exports are excluded, the biggest U.S. military export is guided missiles.** Nearly $1.2 billion in guided missiles left the U.S. in 2012. This total was topped in the first three months of 2013, with $1.4 billion sent abroad, most of it exported to the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.


Source: USA Trade Online

Want to know more about U.S. exports of military goods? Check out USA Trade Online for more detailed information.

*Military goods are those classified under end-use code 50, for “military-type goods.” See the exports concordance for a complete list.

**As classified by ten-digit Schedule B commodity classification for 2012 exports. In this case the ten-digit Schedule B for guided missiles is 9306900020.

Posted in Foreign Trade Data | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

United States Postal Service Exemption Codes

By: Thomas White

Do you have a holiday package you need to ship out of the country? Here’s what to do if you are using the United States Postal Service (USPS) website.

When you visit, it gives several options to choose from when supplying package information to the site for proper mailing (‘Enter Customs Information’). Let us clarify a couple of key elements:

  • Proof of Filing Citation (PFC): notification confirming that you filed to the Automated Export System (AES). This is also known as the Internal Transaction Number or ITN.
  • AES Exemption : If you are not required to file, this note indicates why you are exempt from filing.

Choosing the Appropriate Exemption

On, the two main options to choose from are: 30.36 and 30.37(a). Take a look at what they mean:

  • 30.36: Use for shipments destined to Canada that do not require a license, regardless of value.
  • 30.37(a): Use for shipments under $2,500 destined to countries other than Canada that do not require a license.

Full list of exemptions and/or other regulation questions

If you’re still unsure, give us a call at 800-549-0595, option 3 to speak with a specialist.

This is a repost from December 19, 2012.

Posted in Foreign Trade Regulations | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trade Deficit Decreases in October

By Shannon O’Brien and John Sperry

In October, the Nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $40.6 billion as exports increased more than imports. Exports increased to a record high $192.7 billion in October led by an increase in industrial supplies and materials ($1.5 billion). Imports grew to $233.3 billion in part due to an increase in industrial supplies and materials ($0.8 billion). This month saw a number of records, including exports of goods ($135.3 billion), exports of petroleum ($12.5 billion), exports to Canada ($26.8 billion), and exports to China ($13.1 billion). In addition to these records, October had its highest level of imports with China ($41.9 billion) partially due to video game related imports as discussed below.

Video Game Consoles Imports Increase
Video Game Imports

Through 2013 year-to-date, we have imported a total of $3.7 billion of video game consoles. In October alone we imported video game consoles and machines totaling $1,099.9 million. China was the leading foreign source of video game consoles in October making up $1,084.5 million of the world total imports to the United States.

During the 2013 holiday season, the gaming community has felt the rise of video game demand. Maybe your quest for shopping began when new video game consoles released in North America last month or maybe you will be surprised when you are unwrapping presents in a few weeks.


You can obtain this data and more by going to USA Trade Online.



Posted in Foreign Trade Data | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Doing Business in China 101

By: Iris Kapo, International Trade Specialist, US Commercial Service

China streetSpecialists from the Commercial Service can help you overcome challenges in the market and reach specific goals. Below are some tidbits of knowledge that stemmed from this year’s American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC) tradeshow in Houston, Texas. Three Commercial Specialists from Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou participated in the USDOC’s Showtime Program. They met one-on-one with U.S exhibitors at the show and discussed each company’s unique challenges and goals in these diverse regions of China.

Below are some things to keep in mind when trading with China.

  • Where Are We. China is the world’s fourth largest country after Russia, Canada, and the U.S., so it’s unlikely that one distributor or business partner will be able to successfully serve the entire country. The U.S. Commercial Service has five offices in China and one helps you identify a local partner. Our offices can identify ideal distributors or business partners through our Gold Key Matchmaking Service, for instance, and offer several other services.
  • The Price is Right. Companies concerned with adequately pricing their product for the China market can rely on local partners to guide them through an appropriate pricing structure that will be successful for both parties. The SBA pricing model worksheet is also a good resource to help you get started.
  • Building Relationships. In Chinese culture, building a face-to-face relationship is necessary before any business or decision making is even conducted so frequent visits are a must to ensure success. It’s important to identify a distributor or to attend key trade shows within their industry, such as the China International Medical Equipment Fair CMEF. In many cases, doing business in China will require more than a one-time visit to identify your distributor. To identify trade shows/events within your industry, in specific countries, please visit our Trade Events Database.
  • Medical Devices. All imported medical devices must be registered with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) before being sold in their market. In addition to medical devices, the CFDA will also absorb food safety-related regulatory functions previously handled by other ministries. For medical devices, the CFDA has a comprehensive system for product registration and inspection, which includes product type testing and factory audits. Medical devices are divided into three classes (Class I, II, III) depending on levels of risk, similar to but stricter than that of the USFDA. Clinical trials are required for registration of Class III and some Class II medical devices. The product registration process normally takes from one to three years and registration must be renewed every four years.
  • Bring a Friend. If you’re making a trip to China, our overseas colleagues are happy to meet with you while you are there. You have to contact your local U.S Export Assistance Center (USEAC) to let them know to reach out to the specific Foreign Commercial Service office in China on your behalf.

Those were some of the most important pieces of guidance provided to the most frequent concerns voiced by U.S exhibitors. If you’re ever attending a trade show, locally or internationally, we urge you to contact your local USEAC to find out if we are offering our free services, such as Showtime. These programs are a great supplement to your attendance and will add value to your participation at the show.

The U.S. Commercial Service (USCS) is the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. U.S. Commercial Service trade professionals in over 100 U.S. cities and in more than 75 countries assist U.S. companies competing in the global marketplace. For more information on USCS visit

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments