Another handy tip recommended by Schmid is to make sure the company has an export/import manual. “If the customs officers carry out an audit, this is the first thing they will ask. You’d be surprised how many companies don’t have that,” he said.
Fedele said: “Five years ago we made a major decision which was a solution for us during this time. We have consolidated 20 customs brokers into one. The company now has a single point of contact for its logistics needs, which has significantly streamlined customs and tariff compliance processes.
Mitsui has also implemented business process improvements and “end-to-end processing”, using AI to process certain documents in far less time than it takes to do them by hand.
“We had to become nimble and flexible,” Fedele said. “The landscape is constantly changing.”
He added that the company was also trying to source more from the domestic market. For example, it has gone from 90% of its imported steel to less than 60%.
In terms of regulatory compliance, Enslen recommends that companies review Harmonized Tariff System codes and country of origin determinations to ensure they are correct and complete.
“We also recommend businesses rely on your customs broker and logistics company – that’s what they’re there for. There is a lot of overlap between legal and logistics,” he said.
Enslen also warned companies to pay close attention to compliance with sanctions. The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) oversees sanctions against 38 foreign countries, targeting issues such as counterterrorism, forced labor and human rights.
Scannapieco said companies need to map their supply chain to identify where potential bottlenecks may occur. From there, companies should replace financially insecure, unreliable, or problematic suppliers and create redundancies where possible to address potential supply chain vulnerabilities.
Peering into the crystal ball: what is the near future of global supply chains?
Schmid said the challenges facing global supply chains aren’t going away anytime soon.
“What I’m hearing and reading is that the supply chain challenges will go until 2023,” Fedele said. “The stronger dollar and pent-up consumer demand will continue to drive demand.”
Enslen said U.S. regulators will focus more on large, substantial export violations rather than small issues.
“They’re going to be more aggressive in prosecuting willful, indiscriminate violators,” he said. “One of the things we recommend is consulting and having a relationship with government regulators. It’s in a company’s interest to have a good relationship with regulators, so they at least know you’re trying to do the right thing.