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Catherine J. Petersen

In 1992, Catherine Petersen founded C J Petersen & Associates, LLC, a research, instruction and consulting firm located in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA. She has designed documentation and procedure manuals for exporters and has authored/co-authored five books:

Ms. Petersen has had day-to-day practical experience at a freight forwarder, a trading company, and an ocean carrier; she has been active in international business since 1980. Her background led her to develop C J Petersen & Associates, LLC, which is a collaborative consultancy that works with clients to identify compliance gaps and to resolve them. Ms. Petersen is a speaker and instructor at U.S. and foreign venues.

She holds both graduate and undergraduate degrees in regional planning from Mankato State University, Minnesota, and she is a Licensed Customs Broker with a Permit from Minneapolis Port Office of US Customs & Border Protection. She has also completed the ICC Incoterms® 2010 online training and received the ICC Certificate of Achievement in 2011. She has been awarded the Certified Customs Specialist certification by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America.

Ms. Petersen has been appointed by U.S. Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce to the International Trade Advisory Committee on Customs Matters and Trade Facilitation (ITAC14).

She has been active in several organizations including the Minnesota District Export Council, University of Minnesota's Center for Transportation Studies Logistics Task Force, Twin Cities Roundtable Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, Midwest Global Trade Association of Minnesota, Global Minnesota, and the International Transportation Committee of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.

Articles Written By Catherine J. Petersen

Using Incoterms 2020 Rules to Finalize Your Export Sales Contract

Catherine J. Petersen | September 21, 2020 | Incoterms

Before you calculate your final selling price and negotiate a sales contract, you and your buyer must agree upon who is responsible for the expense of transporting and insuring the merchandise from the time it leaves your plant or warehouse to the time it arrives at your customer's premises.

To assist in this process, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has created a generally accepted, readily understandable nomenclature called Incoterms 2020 that defines the responsibilities of both the buyer and seller in the various transportation options.

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Schedule B Codes: 6 vs. 10 Digits

Catherine J. Petersen | August 24, 2020 | Export Basics

Dear Cathy:

During the past year, we have been working diligently to ensure that our documents clearly reflect all the details and information needed for export and import clearance. This has included a project to ensure that our classifications for export are accurate.

We are stymied now. The question that we are trying to resolve at this moment is whether we should report the six-digit portion of the Schedule B code number or the full 10-digit number on our commercial invoices.

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Using the Right Certificate of Origin for Your Exports

Catherine J. Petersen | July 20, 2020 | Export Forms, Free Trade Agreements

As an exporter, you are required to provide documents to accompany your international shipments. The number and kinds of documents that you must prepare will vary depending on where, what and how you are shipping.

A certificate of origin (COO) may be one of the export forms you need to produce.

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5 Reasons You Need a Shipper’s Letter of Instruction for Your Exports

Catherine J. Petersen | June 29, 2020 | Automated Export System (AES), Export Forms

When it comes to preparing export paperwork, the Shipper’s Letter of Instruction (SLI) is one document that many exporters are inexplicably reluctant to prepare. They shouldn’t be.

By completing an SLI and sending it to the freight forwarder, you are establishing a best practice for your firm. You have a written record of who received the shipping documents, who to contact for questions, who to contact for proof of export, and who issued the export control documentation that supports the decision to send your products to your foreign customer.

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The Importance of an Export Packing List for Your International Shipments

Catherine J. Petersen | March 23, 2020 | Export Forms

Documenting your international shipments does not begin and end with the commercial invoice. A commercial invoice is not a substitute for a packing list, and a packing list is not a substitute for a commercial invoice.

The commercial invoice may be first in a line of export documents that you must issue to get your goods shipped from the United States, cleared through customs at the final destination, and delivered to your customer’s warehouse. However, an export packing list provides important information to all the interested parties.

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Defining and Using a Manufacturer’s Affidavit

Catherine J. Petersen | February 17, 2020 | Import Basics, Export Forms

Doing business internationally means responding to requests for certain documents, certain statements on documents, or additional terms and conditions.

When exporting, firms create certain standard documents: a commercial invoice, a packing list, and a certificate of origin. International customers may request additional documents to satisfy their country’s import requirements, letters of credit, sales contracts, or purchase agreements. One of those additional documents is a Manufacturer’s Affidavit.

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Export Invoices: How to Properly Value Free Samples

Catherine J. Petersen | January 20, 2020 | Export Forms

Dear Cathy,

I found an article online that you wrote regarding the value on a commercial invoice titled Repaired Goods: Import and Re-Export. I am a transportation coordinator for my current employer, and there has always been a question in my mind that I'm not sure how to answer.

Many times we ship items to customers free of charge as an incentive for a bulk order or just as samples for them to try out. I've always thought that their actual value must be listed on the commercial invoice whether we charge the customer or not. Usually when I do that, however, I always make a notation on the commercial invoice stating there was no charge to the customer. The value was for customs use only.

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10 Items That Belong on Your Export Commercial Invoices

Catherine J. Petersen | December 2, 2019 | Export Basics, Export Forms

A commercial invoice is a formal request of reimbursement by the seller to the buyer. For your export shipments, it can serve several added functions:

  • The destination country requires it before clearing the goods through customs.
  • If there is an insurance claim on the shipment, it serves as a key supporting document.
  • The buyer uses it to release funds through its bank to the seller.
  • A bank examines it before reimbursing funds under a letter of credit or documentary collection.
  • U.S. export regulations require that exporters retain it for five years from date of shipment.
  • Exporters can use it to support foreign credit risk insurance claims.

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Deemed Exports: Exporting Without Shipping a Product

Catherine J. Petersen | November 4, 2019 | Export Compliance, Export Basics

Firms of all sizes are being encouraged to export their goods and services. If you’re new to the global marketplace or your firm is expanding into new markets, then it’s time to establish best practices in your organization.

The following is a list of best practices that exporters should follow for each export transaction:

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The Importance of Meeting Deadlines in a Letter of Credit

Catherine J. Petersen | August 12, 2019 | Export Finance

Dear Cathy,

Our firm has just begun to use letters of credit for our transactions, and I am the only one who is responsible for preparing all of the documents. What a headache!

Here's a situation that I faced just last week: The buyer's forwarder is booking the cargo with the ocean carrier. He told me that the earliest we can get our product on the ship is in two weeks, but that is after the unconfirmed letter of credit expires for shipping. Our customer is in India. They told us in an email to just go ahead and ship the goods and they will advise their bank to waive the discrepancies.

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