Securing the Global Supply Chain
Measures being undertaken by the U.S. Customs and in cooperation with other Customs agencies worldwide are helping to ensure the security of the worldwide supply chain.
Curtis Spencer, President, IMS Worldwide, Inc. (LDW: Logistics, Distribution & Warehousing 2009)

With the continued growth in world trade and the constant focus on terrorism, security has been a major focal point not only within the borders of the United States, but within the ports and manufacturing facilities of our largest trading partners. Consequently, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has led the way in working with other governments to establish standards for supply chain security in the global trade environment.

Working directly with the World Customs Organization (WCO) and members of foreign Customs administrations, CBP has endeavored to establish dialogue and support for the security of goods within the ever-expanding global supply network. In fact, CBP has deployed their team members to foreign ports to work with the host country to identify and prohibit the loading of goods destined for the United States that are considered to be high-risk. It is this process - along with the combination of the Cargo Security Initiative (CSI) and the voluntary Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) programs - that is working to increase the safety and security of the cargo entering the United States through our port systems.

SAFE and Secure
The CBP has worked directly with the members of the WCO to establish a collaborative approach to global supply chain security and to develop a framework of standards.  By working together, the members of the WCO and CBP have developed a system by which verification of a secure shipment of goods can be made throughout all points of custody, and a protocol has been firmly established between all member nations. The framework established between the CBP and WCO has been adopted by 173 nations and is referred to as the "Framework to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade" (SAFE Framework). The standards and protocols established within the SAFE Framework have become a foundation for security practices.

The Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) includes requirements that the CBP is working to implement by developing new protocols for security - as the requirement for 100 percent screening of all containerized goods creates multiple challenges for implementation. This screening process makes it mandatory for all goods destined for the United States to be scanned at the port of origin prior to being loaded upon the vessel destined for the United States. This new procedure will require additional CBP oversight, requiring all policies and procedures to be in place for the containerized cargo by 2012. 

The sheer burden of this policy has led to multiple takes on the true value of this initiative from a pure security perspective. There are some groups who believe that the broad scope of the scanning will impact the movement of goods and slow down the ability of supply chains, impacting all areas of trade worldwide. While time and shifts in capacities, inventories, etc. can mitigate these issues, the timing and costs will likely cause disruptions until they can be properly managed.

High-Risk Cargo
While an all-inclusive security scanning initiative may appear to be the safest way to identify any breaches or issues, it may in fact dilute the efforts required to identify specific goods/cargo shipments that reflect anomalies or lapses, indicating a tampering or custodial issue with a shipment. This would lead to inspections either at the port of origin prior to loading or upon arrival at a U.S. port. 

Such an initiative is being operated by the CBP and is called the Advance Targeting System (ATS). Its purpose is to identify (through a matrix and score) high-risk containers based on the information that is received regarding the cargo. The program uses a complex ranking/scoring system of data elements including anomalies and origin-shipper-seller detail irregularities, as well as the documents related to the shipment. When a container and its corresponding cargo are deemed high-risk, based on its score, the cargo is identified for inspection at the foreign port prior to loading.

The success of this program is based on the information/data available on the cargo shipments. Realizing this, CBP has identified that it must enhance the information received and has begun an initiative that will allow it to have a deeper knowledge of shipments by requiring additional data on goods destined for the United States. This new requirement initiative is an expansion of the Automated Manifest System. The CBP's Automated Manifest System requires that 24 hours prior to loading a vessel at a foreign port, the ocean carrier must forward the manifest and cargo entry information to CBP for review. Upon review of the data information, CBP will identify any cargo that is high-risk. If such cargo is identified, an inspection is conducted at the foreign port prior to the loading of the cargo.

With the new expanded initiative, an Advanced Security Filing (10+2, as it is known in the trade) will require an importer to provide the CBP with an additional ten (10) data elements and the carrier to provide an additional two (2) data elements to CBP. This new procedure has been called the "10+2" initiative. The data requirements must be made available to the CBP Advanced Targeting System 24 hours prior to loading on the vessel at foreign ports.

One of the positives that this new required procedure will result in is a better scoring model. The improved detailed "scoring" system will now be better focused on identifying those containers where data, documentation, seller, buyer, and consignee details/anomalies suggest higher risks, and where data regularities from known and frequent shippers suggest lower risks.

Customs-to-Customs and Customs-to-Business Partnerships
The CBP uses the WCO network of Customs-to-Customs Partnerships and Customs-to-Business Partnerships as the key ingredients behind the CBP's globalization for supply chain security, and bases its framework of standards on the same four core principles as the WCO:

1. Standardization of advance electronic cargo information requirements for inbound, outbound, and transit shipments

2. Commitment to the use of consistent risk management approach to address security threats

3. Performance of outbound inspection of high-risk containers and cargo by the nation from which the cargo was shipped at the reasonable request of the receiving nation, preferably using nonintrusive inspection equipment

4. Adoption of Customs-to-business partnership programs (such as C-TPAT)

The Customs-to-Business Pillar of the WCO Framework contains an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) protocol, which provides member organizations with guidance as well as a system to provide benefits to those organizations that are security-focused. The U.S. C-TPAT program is an example of an AEO protocol wherein Customs organizations, with input from the trade organizations that make up the bulk of the users, can develop and implement a validation program that demonstrates that a minimum level of security standards for their supply chain are being met. This program allows C-TPAT members to obtain the corresponding benefits that are made available to the participating AEO member.

Mutual Recognition Standards
Working to develop a "mutual recognition" of standards based on the AEO protocols and compliance levels, which are part of the Customs-to-Customs Pillar of WCO Framework, will provide a clear benefit to members and reduce the need for member nations to provide multiple assessments. A "mutual recognition" program with fixed standard levels will allow member countries to validate and perform assessments of supply chain security actions and reduce the number of duplicate actions that may have been taken by a fellow member nation. This would help all of the nations by reducing the costs of validations and assessments and speed up the process of goods movement via known and validated shippers.

The end result is that the U.S. CBP, in order to create a more secure trade environment and goods flow into the United States, has begun implementing initiatives overseas. These new practices now have them engaging with not only U.S. importers and the complexities of import (or exporters and export) supply chains, but also interacting on broad global initiatives with many foreign governments in order to provide a full context for global trade security. This expanded framework for cargo security is directly focused on identifying higher-risk cargo for inspection programs, and allowing lower-risk cargo to flow smoothly and efficiently.

The outcome of these global actions is that global trade remains relatively safe. Participant nations and global traders understand the benefits that accompany the security initiatives as they increase supply chain velocity, provide a higher level of predictability, and lower the costs across trade lanes. By applying security initiatives with member companies and member nations, the CBP has made great progress to enhance security worldwide.

Curtis Spencer is also a member of the 9th and 10th COAC Committee.

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