Enhanced Security Criteria for Importers

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued enhanced Importer Security Criteria for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). The Security Criteria Implementation Plan provides that, effective immediately, importers applying to join C-TPAT must submit a completed, comprehensive security profile with their application.

Importers who are already C-TPAT members must harden their physical supply chain within 60 days; adopt enhanced internal supply chain management practices within 120 days; and adopt within 180 days a written, verifiable process for substantiating that business partners throughout their supply chain are meeting C-TPAT security criteria or equivalent supply chain security program criteria administered by a foreign Customs administration. CBP also issued new Application Instructions for importers. Comments: The C-TPAT program has been in need of improvement since it commenced. To that extent, the initiative is welcome. One should expect the new procedures for importers to be expanded to other parties, such as carriers, in the not-too-distant future. On the other hand, CBP may be demanding too much too quickly from importers and others in the chain. If CBP can convince importers and others that the pain is worth the gain, then overall security will be greatly enhanced. On the other hand, if parties perceive minimal gain from participation in the new and improved C-TPAT, they will vote with their feet and cease participation. Only time will tell. (HK Law).

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