U.S. Customs officials have announced the next step in the agency's multi-tiered program to protect international commerce from terrorist infiltration. Customs introduced on August 19 the Sea Cargo Targeting Initiative, an automated system that better identifies high-risk sea-going shipments into U.S. ports of entry and establishes new policies
for dealing with these shipments.
"The aim of this new initiative is to improve the way we address high-risk cargo," said Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner. "The challenge we face is constantly changing and our policies will evolve accordingly. This initiative will better protect Americans and seaports, and it will introduce greater uniformity, predictability and efficiency to global commerce."
This initiative contains three major components:
· Adding new criteria to U.S. Customs automated systems that reflect the latest information about possible terrorist activities.
· Ensuring that all manifests are processed through the Automated Targeting System and reviewed by trained personnel.
· Standardizing U.S. Customs procedure and practice when the system pinpoints a high-risk shipment.
U.S. Customs officials anticipate more thorough examinations of cargo deemed high-risk by the newly enhanced automated targeting system. All high-risk sea cargo containers will be examined, at a minimum by non-intrusive inspection technology, including gamma ray scanning, radiation detection and integrity of the container seal and the container itself.
This recently implemented Sea Cargo Targeting Initiative also is designed to complement ongoing U.S. Customs efforts to enlist the support of the trade community in protecting global commerce from terrorist infiltration. Trade community participation in such programs as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) will facilitate and expedite clearance and movement of goods under this enhanced cargo targeting system
Commissioner Bonner said, "The Container Security Initiative
), the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) now under development are designed to create a formidable triad in the war against terrorism."