Heads Up Exporters

In a recent post we discussed why auditing EEI filings is a good business practice. If you are a self filer is anyone checking the accuracy of your submissions? Does your freight forwarder have an audit procedure in place if they are filing for you? Here is the risk of a “file it and forget it” policy:

§ 30.71 False or fraudulent reporting on or misuse of the Automated Export System.

(a) Criminal penalties –

(1) Failure to file; submission of false or misleading information. Any person, including USPPIs, authorized agents or carriers, who knowingly fails to file or knowingly submits, directly or indirectly, to the U.S. Government, false or misleading export information through the AES, shall be subject to a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both, for each violation.

Are you aware of these potential filing errors?

A common misconception is that EEI and Commercial Invoice value should match. This is actually not correct unless inland freight costs are added to both. 


The new mandatory filing requirement in Section 758.1(b)(10) applies to all items that have an ECCN and are destined to China, Russia, or Venezuela, regardless of value, end use or end user. 

For audits of your EEI filings contact mitch@ .

Wicked, Wicked

The ongoing infrastructure debate calls to mind the term “wicked problem” from a noted supply chain management text*.

A wicked problem involves multiple stakeholders, each with different interests and values. As a result there is no single common goal , no clear mission, and no universal solution. Any solution, after being implemented, will generate waves of consequences and can result in making the problem worse.  A suggested framework for tackling a wicked problem consists of 4 levels of increasing complexity:

Level 1- Process Engineering and inventory management– This is the engineering approach focusing on what is being carried (work, cash, information) and process design within and between organizations. Risk management is about improved visibility and control.

Level 2- Assets and Infrastructure- This is the insurance and financial approach. Nodes and links are examined and strengthened to avoid disruptions along the supply chain.

Level 3- Organizations and Inter-organizational networks– this is strategic level problem solving involving outsourcing, partnering, and offshoring.

Level 4- the Macro Environment- This level uses PEST  (Political, Economic, Social, and Technological) analysis of environmental changes. Issues include green and legal/regulatory as well as geo political factors.

We can consider supply chain to be strategic while logistics is more tactical. Global supply chain problems are complex and involve all of the above levels. Logistics problems can usually be managed within Levels 1 and 2.

Contact mitch@ for immediate logistics support.

*Global Logistics & Supply Chain Management by John Mangan, Chandra Lalwani, Tim Butcher, and Roya Javadpour

LinkedIn Comments- Spare Parts

Tony Rodriguez• President & Owner, Daniel Penn Associates.

Spare parts inventory control is no cakewalk. Read part two of a series by DPA’s Kenneth Staller and learn how to contain the chaos. Let us know your experiences.

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB  Licensed Customs Broker, International Logistics Consultant

Hi Tony, this article is very helpful. Several of my clients have added HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) columns to their inventory lists as they are updated. This makes it easier to resolve customs delays in the supply chain.

What’s Your Agenda ?

Zoom meetings have mostly replaced face to face sales calls for LSP (Logistics Service Provider) representatives. This situation may be changing but, for now, I’m hearing a lot of frustration from former colleagues and clients. LSP reps are under pressure to conduct an aggressive number of zoom meetings or phone contacts per day. Activity becomes the main goal overshadowing value propositions. Indications are that this strategy will continue as it reduces costs and can increase call productivity.

Many clients are working remotely and with reduced staffing so understandably want to avoid these calls. The discussion usually includes small talk, commiseration, service issues, and client complaints about rates or surcharges. Let me suggest an alternative approach that can be an advantage for small/medium shippers. Rather than avoid the calls why not look to set the agenda and add your own value while also reducing the number of routine calls? I guarantee that you will have your LSP representative’s attention.

A common mistake made by small and medium sized clients is failing to prepare before meeting with LSP representatives. This leaves the agenda, and control, in the hands of the LSP rep. Another mistake is focusing immediately on price. Keep in mind that the lowest rate is not usually the best rate. A better strategy is to begin with value components in your discussions with providers. If you determine that they have the capabilities to provide quality services, then you can move the discussion to price.

Take a few minutes to list two or three agenda items prior to meetings with LSPs. These can include immediate issues as well as long term goals. State your agenda up front and see what happens!

LinkedIn Comments-Documentation

ICS Global Services Limited477
Having the correct documentation is vital when importing or exporting, as inappropriate or overlooked documentation can lead to shipping delays, increased costs and business risks, such as cancelled international commercial activities.

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB Licensed Customs Broker, International Logistics Consultant

It is a fact that most customs delays are caused by missing or inaccurate documentation.


As noted in previous posts the 3 ways to determine ECCN (Export Control Classification Number) are: 1) Self Classify; 2) Consult Manufacturers; 3) Request a BIS ruling.

ECCN is the first step in the licensing or NLR (No License Required) decision. A number of companies make their classification info available to the public. Here is the link:

Publicly Available Classification Information


Contact mitch@ for classification assistance.

Respect Shippers

In all of my posts about export compliance I have written that it is a mistake to leave this function in the hands of a busy shipping department. This is not a reflection on shippers. Most that I have known are hard working, diligent, and not overpaid. They are under pressure to get shipments out the door on time and with accurate documentation. It is unfair to give them regulatory responsibility, especially without authority.

Export compliance is most effective as a front end process. Risk assessment and training are executive functions. Red flag screening should be done as early in the sales cycle as possible so that resources are not wasted on problematic orders.

It is, however, a good idea to give shippers some basic export compliance knowledge as a last line of defense. The ability to spot red flags before a shipment leaves the dock could save the company from fines and penalties. Why not have shippers take advantage of BIS’s free online training? On company time of course!


For help with export compliance contact mitch@

LinkedIn Comments

Gustavo Dobles• Operations and Content Executive | Strategic Business and Operational Planning and Management | Process Improvements | Complex Project Management

On the importance of the role of manager as active coach:

“Without some way of knowing what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, or which way is more effective and which less, you cannot improve your performance. Hence practice without provision for feedback, knowledge of the results of your effort, will not lead to skill improvement.”

From Organizational Team Building by Earl J. Ends and Curtis W. Page.

What do you think?

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB  Licensed Customs Broker, International Logistics Consultant

Agree…clear expectations should be followed by timely (not annual) and relevant feedback including what is done well and what needs improvement. These conversations are often difficult so many managers simply fall back on their dashboard. I think dashboards are great for measuring and monitoring a process but are not a substitute for good leadership.


As noted in a recent post, best practices in compliance include auditing Electronic Export Information (EEI) filings periodically. Self filers as well as logistics service providers (LSPs) know that EEIs must be filed for exports of any single commodity valued greater than $2500 USD or if a license is required. EEI filing does not apply to shipments from the US to Canada unless they require a license.

In Case You Missed It we have new filing requirements for exports to China, Russia, and Venezuela:

New mandatory EEI filing requirements effective 9/27/2020. Here is one of the the FAQs from the BIS website.

Q28: Are exporters required to file EEI for shipments of commercial items valued under $2,500 if destined to China and it is for commercial end use?

A: Yes. The new mandatory filing requirement in Section 758.1(b)(10) applies to all items that have an ECCN and are destined to China, Russia, or Venezuela, regardless of value, end use or end user. The only one of the exemptions in Section 758.1(c) that is available to overcome this requirement is License Exception GOV.

Contact mitch@ for EEI audits.