Freight forwarder and customs broker Flexport International LLC has launched a service to help its U.S. clients navigate international supply chain challenges in the current era of “global trade chaos,” the firm said Wednesday.
Flexport’s “Trade Advisory” service is designed to help users identify cost saving opportunities, explore tariff mitigation strategies, minimize operational risk, and implement best practices for trade compliance, the San Francisco-based firm said. Following its U.S. launch, the company plans to expand the new Trade Advisory Services into Canada, Europe, and Asia.
According to Flexport, the U.S.-China trade war caught many shippers off guard as they faced unforeseen duty amounts, customs audits, and penalties. At the same time, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has increased enforcement efforts across all products and industries. Finally, there were more changes to Customs HTS (harmonized tariff schedule) codes in 2018 and 2019 than in the previous eight years combined.
Together, those policies have pushed prices up for importers. Flexport says that its clients have seen the percentage of customs duties they pay on U.S.-bound import shipments from China increase by 84% between 2018 and 2019, relative to freight and commercial invoice value.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen changes in customs and trade regulation and enforcement occur at an unprecedented level as compared to years prior,” Adam Dambrov, director of Flexport’s Trade Advisory Services, said in a blog post. “While larger companies might be able to absorb some of this cost, the increased cost and complexity for small- and medium-sized businesses could mean a make or break situation—part of the driving mission to establish Flexport Trade Advisory Services.”
“Customs has always been high stakes: it is one of the more data-intensive functions within logistics, with penalties for small errors and the potential to disrupt a company's supply chain,” Adam Dambrov, director of Flexport’s Trade Advisory Services, said in a release. “Our team brings decades of deep customs and global trade experience to help clients proactively uncover what’s possible and build resilient supply chains, rather than just mitigating Customs-related costs and issues.”
Flexport Trade Advisory works by analyzing SKU-level data from the Flexport Platform to provide strategies such as duty drawback and country of origin analysis, helping clients find opportunities for savings, minimize operational risk, and establish compliance best practices, the company said.
The new service follows Flexport’s recent moves to offer warehouse space in Vietnam to help its clients avoid escalating tariffs on U.S.-China trade, and to launch an intelligent cargo matching platform that provides ocean freight consolidation services by identifying available container space on compatible shipments.
The trade war goes on, but so do opportunities to save. Find out how Flexport’s new Trade Advisory service can help protect your business. https://t.co/4OAOk4BOh9 #tradeadvisory #freightforwarding pic.twitter.com/1yljMtaeLN— Flexport (@flexport) February 27, 2020