“Charles, has your review of the U.S. Census Schedule B website been going well? I know we covered it in our last conversation, but do you have any additional questions I might be able to help you with?”
“As a matter of fact Chris, I do have some questions,” responds Charles. In the background, some intriguing jazz trumpet music is playing which catches my attention.
“Charles, I thought you were a sax guy? What’s with the trumpet music?” I ask.
“That’s Miles Davis, who you no doubt have heard of. The tune is called Footprints and was actually written by Wayne Shorter, one of the greatest saxophone players of all time. He will play soon”, responds Charles, just as Mr. Shorter begins a solo on his tenor. We listen together in awe of incredible musicians at work.
“Nice! I hope you can teach me more about jazz as we go along,” I comment to Charles, who has been moving his fingers to an imaginary sax while he nods in the affirmative.
“So Charles, let’s get to your questions,” I continue. “What can I help with?”
As Footprints finishes, Charles starts: “I noticed that there are export dollar values listed for some of the Schedule B numbers. For example, the subheading of 9205.90, which includes saxophones, shows a value of about $28 million in 2010. I assume that refers to the value that U.S. exporters shipped to overseas customers in 2010,” he remarks. “Is that right?”
“In principle, yes,” I reply. “But note that the numbers shown are based on the values reported by the exporter when a shipment is made. That means that the value could be based on different prices depending on who the buyer is. So if a potential exporter is looking to those numbers as an indication of sales potential, they need to keep that in mind.”
“I see. So how exactly does an exporter report the value of the shipment?” asks Charles.
“In the past, a document called a Shipper’s Export Declaration, or SED, was used. The exporter would complete it along with shipping instructions for his international freight forwarder to use in processing the shipment,” I explain.
“Freight forwarder?” Charles asks, looking for more details.
“They are experts in supply chain management and help manufacturers with the various aspects of moving goods internationally,” I explain.
“With regard to the SED,” I continue, “Everything is now done electronically through the Automated Export System; here is the website: http://www.aesdirect.gov. Rather than filing an SED, exporters now submit the electronic equivalent, cleverly called Electronic Export Information. Data is collected via this system by the U.S. Census Bureau and reported as the export dollar values you mention.
“That makes sense,” says Charles. “A greener solution to what must have been a tremendous load of paperwork”.
“Indeed! I suppose you could say there is less of a carbon footprint now, eh?” I remark with a grin.
While Charles’s slight smile tells me he got the pun, I can tell he is formulating some additional questions for me.