From next month, US importers will be able to submit electronic images of appropriate export visas when claiming preferential treatment for textile and apparel products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The proposal brings existing rules into line with the upcoming rollout of a new single electronic portal – the ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) – that allows importers and exporters to share trade documents with US government agencies.

When fully implemented in December 2016, ACE – which is, in turn, part of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) – will be the main vehicle for submitting data and other relevant documentation required for the release of imported cargo and the clearance of cargo for export.

That said, shipments must still be 'visaed' by stamping an original circular visa, in blue ink only, on the front of the original commercial invoice. Providing an electronic image of the original visa stamped invoice is not considered duplication, according to a notice from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in today's Federal Register.

It also notes that a visa will not be accepted and AGOA preferential tariff treatment will not be permitted if the required information is missing, incorrect or illegible or has been crossed out or altered in any way.

Click on the following link for full details of the 'International trade data system visa requirements under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.'