The U.S. Customs Service has delayed the expansion of a program that allows pre-processing of visas that accompany textile and apparel shipments covered by import quotas.
Last summer, the agency developed a schedule to bring other ports around the nation into the program, said Lori Bowers, head of Customs' quota work group. But the start-up, expected to begin in January, has been delayed as the quota work group hands the project over to another department.Bowers said she expects Customs officials will meet at the end of the month to develop a new timetable to expand the program beyond the ports of New York-New Jersey and Los Angeles-Long Beach.
The pre-processing program, tested since September 1998, allows visas that accompany textiles and apparel goods under quota to be submitted to Customs up to five days before the cargo arrives in the United States.
Before the trial program began, the visa would have to wait for the cargo to arrive, even if other import paperwork had already been processed. U.S. importers have been happy with the program, which can shave 36 to 48 hours off the clearance period.