AAEI Letter on EEI Filing through ACEDirect

March 28, 2016

As a result of vigorous discussion during AAEI’s recent Customs Committee meeting, we have drafted a letter to CBP (with cc: to Census) listing a number of issues filing EEIs through ACEDirect.  We are seeking member input on this draft letter and welcome additional issues and edits to the text below.  Our goal is to send this letter out by March 31st. Please feel free to redline the draft below and send it to me at mrowden@aaei.org. 



Re:          EEI Filing through ACEDirect

Dear Assistant Commissioner Smith:

On behalf of the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI), I wanted to apprise you of continuing operational issues that our members experience when filing their Electronic Export Information (EEI) required under the Foreign Trade Regulations, through the ACEDirect portal.  Here is the feedback we have received from our members:

  1. Authorization requests to add new exporters is taking 60-90 days for approval.
  1. Initial log in issues unrelated to inactivity.  When the account it checked it is indeed active, it needs a new password.  These are seemingly unexplained as these filers are in the system regularly. 
  1. From the web browsers Chrome or Explorer, the ACE system is lagging.  When doing normal tasks such as using Template Manager the below errors occur:
  1. With the lagging system, if the company is timed out – a fatal error occurs when fields are not completed.
  1. These problems are amplified by the fact that two agencies are involved, CBP and Census. Some companies are not able to access the ACEDirect system because they are not able to access the ACE web portal, and we understand that this is a CBP system issue. Others are able to access the ACE portal, but are not able to file an export, this is a Census issue. Similarly, companies that are having issues with export reports may be dealing with CBP system or Census system issues.
  1. Companies are experiencing issues running reports. There are multiple steps to go through to try to get all of the data elements in a report that was normally in the yearly report that companies could previously request from Census (now they only list partial data elements and users have to go into and set up all data elements).  Members are looking for a good set of instructions from Census on how to run a report and capture all of the data elements.
  1. Wait time for the help desk issues are extremely long.  If calling, generally someone answers and will refer you to the email address as they work in another department and cannot answer your question.  Other experience has been that the help desk does not give you proper advice and you end up having to call again and the cycle continues.  On industry calls, Customs has apologized as they are 30 days behind in their responses. 

Finally, we are happy to see that CBP has issued CSMS # 16-000236 issued March 25, 2016, whereby Trace Account Owners will have the ability to reset inactive accounts for Trade Account Users (TAU) and Proxy Account Owner (PTAO) online.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues in more detail with you so that we can find a solution to ensure that U.S. exporters are in compliance with the Foreign Trade Regulations and the government receives EEI data on a timely basis.  As always, thank you for your support.