Scrambling to manage your supply chain while keeping up with the latest tariff and policy changes? So is everyone else. Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to mitigate the impacts of tariff changes on your supply chain and to better monitor the constant changes. The best part? You can do them all without completely turning your current systems on their heads. Here’s a list of our best advice from our customs brokerage team:

1. Don’t panic.

This can be hard to avoid when snippets of news headlines and often, tweets, are the first to alert you to changing tariffs and trade policies. However, no matter how reliable the news source, nothing is official until it’s announced by the United States Trade Representative (USTR). The last couple of months have served as testament that even once something is officially announced, it can still be revised. While it’s important to stay current with any news that may impact your business, don’t stress until an official policy is updated so you know exactly how the most recent changes will affect you. 

2. Think proactively and review your products.

In current times more than ever, it’s imperative to know exactly where your products are coming from and what they’re made of. Knowing your countries of origin and the classifications of products can ensure that you declare correctly and avoid paying duties you don’t need to. The important part? Be proactive. It’s too late to start making adjustments to your existing classifications once a new tariff or exclusion is announced. It’s good practice to always question your HTS numbers, whether in the midst of tariff turmoil or not. 

3. Focus on accurate forecasting.

With the significant increases in tariffs from China this year, many companies have very tight budgets and are trying to figure out if they should raise prices or how to manage the additional expenses.  Accurate forecasting is essential for knowing what you’ll be buying when and when it will be shipped so you can have sufficient cash on hand to pay your additional duties.When you’re able to thoroughly trust financial forecasts, you’re also better able to determine the feasibility of exclusion filing and the sufficiency of any bonds you may have. You’ll also have the visibility to foresee when you’ll face the most impact from tariffs, allowing you to make decisions to expedite shipping to beat a tariff enactment date, or to slow things down and choose to pay tariffs over a more incremental time period. No matter which way you choose to utilize the information, accurate plans and forecasts are the first step to gaining the visibility over your supply chain to be able to act proactively.

4. Stay close to your customs broker.

We may say this a lot, but that’s only because it’s important. A good customs broker will update their clients as soon as new changes are officially announced, keeping you up-to-date on the latest changes. And, because keeping up with these things is their full-time job, they’ll also be able to answer your questions and explain how these things will tangibly impact your business. Of course, your customs broker will help you with filing exclusion requests for your products. A really good customs broker, like Navegate, will also review every exclusion request that is granted, allowing them to inform you if your business has imported under that HTS in the last year, allowing you to take advantage of the exclusion as well.

While these are certainly trying times for importers, you don’t need to feel helpless over your supply chain. To learn more about what you can do, or for help with any of the tips we’ve outlined, contact a Navegate customs broker today.

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