July 19, 2002
single-most important priority for the Customs Service for today
and for the foreseeable future is anti-terrorism," said Tom O'Brien,
Director of U.S. Customs Services Management Center for the Pacific
Region, at a recent seminar on its "Customs-Trade Partnership Against
Terrorism" ("C-TPAT") program. According to O'Brien "this is more
important to us than trade enforcement or even narcotics interdiction."
prevent the introduction of biological, chemical, and weapons of
mass destruction, Customs is dramatically stepping up its efforts
to screen for and examine what it calls "containers of concern."
"This is inevitably going to result in the delay of the release
of containers," noted O'Brien in this talk. He went on to say that,
while the Port of San Francisco is at the forefront of container
screening technology, there are some West Cost Ports that are already
full with containers waiting to be screened and examined.
then explained how importers can avoid these delays by becoming
members of the "Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism," or
"C-TPAT" as it is known. Under the program, containers imported
by members of CTPAT that are exported through a secure supply chain
will be considered "low risk," and allowed to clear without the
same inspection requirements as containers moving through a non-secure
supply chain. This program is a "win-win" situation for importers
and Customs, noted O'Brien. Importers get their cargo sooner, and
Customs can focus its efforts and resources on the "high-risk" containers.
that are most at risk are those that are from unknown sources, those
that contain unknown cargo, those that originate from countries
of concern, and those that move though known transshipment points.
To avoid the inevitable delays that will occur, importers can take
steps to secure their cargo and supply chain. Once this is done,
the containers will not have to be examined.
Benefits of Participation
ocean shipping containers are the most "at-risk", Customs is encouraging
all importers to join the C-TPAT program. To encourage this, Customs
is earmarking many of its new programs, such as periodic-payment
and its new Importer Assessment Program, for only C-TPAT members.
Benefits of participation in C-TPAT include:
Does It Take To Join?
- Reduced inspections;
- An assigned Customs account manager;
- For current Low Risk Importers (LRIs), an opportunity
to expand "low-risk" treatment to all divisions within the company;
- Access to the C-TPAT membership list;
- Eligibility for account-based processes (e.g.,
- Participation in Customs Importer Self
the C-TPAT program is a two-step process. First, the importer fills
out the Cargo
Security Questionnaire and then signs a Memorandum-Of-Understanding
(MOU) that commits them to the program.
the MOU, participants agree to implement Security
Recommendations issued by Customs, which will contain detailed
suggestions for establishing, improving, or amending security procedures
along the company's entire supply chain. Security recommendations
will be made after Customs reviews the importer's completed supply
chain security profile questionnaire and engages in discussions
with the importer.
of the program, however, falls on the importer. It will be the
responsibility of the importer to secure the commitments necessary
from foreign suppliers to secure the cargo at the time of delivery
to the first carrier in the supply chain. In the case of non-related
suppliers, these commitments may have to be contractual.
also expects importers to audit or inspect the facilities of their
suppliers on a periodic basis to ensure that they are carrying out
their commitments. Inspections can be done by the importer or by
competent third parties.
the exporter is too small or not interested, the importer has a
couple of choices," noted O'Brien, "it can switch suppliers or it
can use an intermediary to screen and secure the cargo before it
moves to the next stage."
eventually expects the complete supply chain will be covered, including
carriers, forwarders and Customs brokers. To facilitate the process,
Customs will make information available to C-TPAT members about
other members, including those in the delivery supply chain. That
way, importers can select those carriers, forwarders and Customs
brokers that are C-TPAT approved, or, otherwise, require suppliers
to use only C-TPAT approved carriers and forwarders.
What Kind Of Program Is Needed?
Customs is looking for the importer and foreign supplier
to have the following types of security programs in place or under
- Procedural Security: Procedures should be in place
to protect against unmanifested material being introduced into
the supply chain.
- Physical Security: Buildings
should be constructed in a way that resists unlawful entry and
protects against outside intrusion. Physical security should include
the segregation and marking of international, domestic, high-value,
and dangerous goods cargo within the warehouse by a safe, caged
or otherwise fenced-in area.
- Access Controls: Access controls
should include positive identification, recording, and tracking
of all employees, visitors, and vendors.
- Conveyance Security: Conveyance security involves the
protection of the container against the introduction of unauthorized
personnel and material before or during shipment.
- Personnel Security: Importers and suppliers should
conduct employment screening and interviewing of prospective employees
to include periodic background checks and application verifications.
- Manifest Procedures: Companies should ensure that manifests
are complete, legible, accurate, and submitted in a timely manner
- Education and Training Awareness: A security awareness program for employees covering
cargo integrity and unauthorized access.
What Should You Do First?
program is very important to the Customs Service, particularly as
the Service moves towards merging into the new Department of Homeland
Security. And, while it is described as a voluntary program, Customs
is stepping up efforts to get U.S. companies to sign up. The current
goal of the Commissioner of Customs is to have 1,000 importers signed
up for the program by the end of Customs' fiscal year (October 31st).
Currently, Customs has about 274 companies signed up for the program.
One: As a first step, we recommend that the company download
and review the Cargo
Security Questionnaire, Memorandum-Of-Understanding
and Customs' Security
Two: The company should assemble an inter-departmental committee
made up of affected groups (such as logistics, manufacturing, security,
purchasing or procurement, and supply chain management) to review
and discuss the pros and cons of participation in the program.
Three: Conduct an initial evaluation of your company's existing
cargo security efforts and that of any related party suppliers and
key third party suppliers and vendors (i.e., third party JIT warehouses,
Foreign Trade Zones and bonded warehouses).
Initial supplier valuations can be done in writing, by phone or
through interviews with company individuals who visit the supplier
on a regular basis. Once the initial evaluation is done, the company
can assess the potential cost and/or changes to the company's business
plan that might be required.
additional information on Customs' C-TPAT program, please visit
our website (http://www.tuttlelaw.com),
and select the link to our C-TPAT
page. If you have any questions or would like a presentation for
your company on Customs C-TPAT program, please call (415) 288-0428,
or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Tuttle Law Offices.
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