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THE DMA EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT NEW INTERNATIONAL DECLARATIONS FORMS
NEW YORK, May 30, 2002 – The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) today expressed concern about the World Customs Organization's (WCO) newly proposed customer declaration forms. The new forms, which could be mandatory for commercial shipper sending goods internationally as early as January 1, 2003, would increase costs and cause mechanical sorting delays in addition to creating new, intricate requirements for shippers.
The DMA is calling on industry to make its voice heard at the Universal Postal Union (UPU) immediately. The comment period on the proposed changes to the forms is scheduled to close on Wednesday, June 5.
"It is clear that this proposal has not been fully thought out," said Charles Prescott, vice president, international business development and government affairs, The DMA. "The proposed changes have wide-ranging implications for how companies package and ship goods internationally."
The new forms, which would be required on all packages with a declared value greater than 300 SDR, or about $400, would be larger than many small parcels, and thus could jam sorting machinery, causing postal services increased handling costs and delays. SDR is an accounting unit of the International Monetary Fund.
The new forms also ask for country of origin of the goods, which is a term that is not defined. Even if it were defined, many commercial shippers and most consumers would not know the origin of the goods.
Perhaps most troubling, the forms ask for the Harmonized System Tariff Code of the goods. This numbering system is not used in all countries. Where it is used, it is unlikely that consumers would know it, and indeed most businesses would also have to be educated.
Classification of goods under the code is a complex process and fine distinctions must be drawn to properly classify goods, with the possibility of error being extremely high. Moreover, the code changes constantly and point-of-sale information at post offices worldwide would have to be made. This is a very serious burden for posts, consumers and businesses alike.
The DMA is the leading trade association for businesses interested in interactive and database marketing, with nearly 4,700 member companies from the United States and 53 other nations. Founded in 1917, its members include direct marketers from every business segment as well as the nonprofit and electronic marketing sectors. Included are catalogers, Internet retailers and service providers, financial services providers, book and magazine publishers, book and music clubs, retail stores, industrial manufacturers and a host of other vertical segments, including the service industries that support them. According to a DMA-commissioned study, direct and interactive marketing sales in the United States exceeded $1.86 trillion in 2001, including $118 billion in catalog sales and $30 billion in sales generated by the Internet. The DMA's Web site iswww.the-dma.org, and its consumer Web site is www.shopthenet.org.