Buried in the Trade Act of 2002, which was signed into law Tuesday by President Bush
, are several provisions of great potential impact on maritime interests involved in international trade to or from the United States. The Customs Service is now authorized to require that information pertaining to cargo destined for importation into the United States or exportation from the United States (such as cargo manifests) be transmitted to the Customs Service through an electronic data interchange system prior to such importation or exportation. With regard specifically to waterborne cargo destined for export from the United States, no shipper
(including an NVOCC) may tender such cargo to a vessel carrier unless the cargo has been properly documented with the Customs Service. To properly document the cargo, all shipping and related documents must be submitted to Customs at least 24 hours prior to departure of the vessel. No marine terminal operator may load such cargo unless instructed by the vessel carrier that the cargo has been properly documented. The vessel carrier must notify Customs of any cargo tendered that has not been properly documented. Civil penalties
may be imposed up to the greater of the value of the cargo or the cost of the transportation. Cargo that is not properly documented and remains at the marine terminal for more than 48 hours is subject to search, seizure, and forfeiture. Separately, the Secretary of the Treasury is directed to establish a joint task force to evaluate, prototype, and certify secure systems of transportation. Among other things, this program is to establish standards and a process for screening and evaluating cargo prior to import into or export from the United States.
Source: HK Law