U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Robert C. Bonner today
announced that Customs will begin taking applications as of August 26, 2002, from brokers, freight forwarders, and non-vessel operating common carriers for membership in the Customs-Trade Partnership program
. The program, dubbed C-TPAT, is an initiative between business and government to protect global commerce from terrorism. Unveiled this past April, the program initially sought membership from the importing and global transportation communities.
"The partnership will work best only if it is comprehensive," said Bonner. "This marks the next level of a program that will simultaneously protect national security and promote the more expeditious processing of commerce."
The program calls upon importing businesses and service providers to establish policies to enhance their own security practices and those of business partners involved in the supply chain. Once these policies are in effect, imports by these businesses would be given expedited processing at ports of entry.
Bonner stressed that swifter processing is just one of the benefits extended to business by Customs.
"The whole world will suffer if terrorists begin using the global trade network to mount attacks," said Bonner. "The economic repercussions of such an event would be severe. Everyone involved in world trade has a vital interest in protecting the channels of trade from terrorist infiltration."
In addition to importers, carriers, brokers, freight forwarders and non-vessel owning common carriers, ultimately, C-TPAT membership will also be available for port authorities, terminal operators, warehouse operators and manufacturers. Customs developed similar programs to C-TPAT in the mid-1990s by enlisting private sector cooperation in the agency’s war against drug smuggling.