U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the European Union (EU) today announce the mutual recognition decision between CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program and the EU’s Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) program was fully implemented January 31st.
This final phase of the agreement provides reciprocal benefits to C-TPAT members when exporting to EU member states. These benefits, which include lower risk score and less exams when shipping cargo were provided to members exporting into the U.S. in Phase I of the agreement, which was implemented in July 2012. The agreement was first signed in May 2012 by CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar and European Union Taxation and Customs Union Directorate Director-General Heinz Zourek.
The goal of these arrangements is to link the various international industry partnership programs, so that together they create a unified and sustainable security posture that can assist in securing and facilitating global cargo trade.
In addition to the European Union, CBP also has mutual recognition agreements with Canada, Japan, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan.
This is an additional benefit to companies that are looking to participate in C-TPAT that export to any of the EU member states.
More than 1,200 members of the trade community gathered in National Harbor, Md., for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) conference on January 8th -10th. The event titled, “Unified Global Security: The Challenge Ahead,” hosted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, drew participants representing all aspects of the supply chain including Canadian & Mexican manufacturers, U.S. & Canadian importers, cross border transportation carriers, U.S. Customs brokers and freight forwarders.
“I’ve been in government now going on 38 years and I’ve been through a lot of programs in my career. If a program lasts more than a year or two, it’s pretty successful. But to have a program that started in November 2001 that is still going strong and has the energy level to attract 1,200 people at a conference, you know you have a winner,” said Thomas Winkowski, CBP’s acting chief operating officer, who welcomed a packed audience Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.
C-TPAT, a voluntary trusted trader program that has been emulated worldwide, was launched shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. In the days following the tragedy, security at the U.S. borders was so tight, the economic repercussions were devastating. As a result, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), formerly the U.S. Customs Service, began meeting with some of the major U.S. importers to find a way to maintain a high level of security while facilitating the flow of goods across America’s borders. It became apparent that the only way to do this was by engaging U.S. businesses to look at security within their individual supply chains and ensure that appropriate security measures to guard against terrorists were in place. A joint effort with seven original charter member companies was formed.
Today, the program has nearly 10,500 members. “More than 55 percent of the goods entering the United States are C-TPAT certified and validated imports,” said Winkowski.
The conference agenda included speakers from CBP’s senior leadership. Acting Assistant Commissioner of Field Operations Kevin McAleenan discussed the future of the C-TPAT program from an operational perspective. “Our shared and continuing challenge is brought about by some good news and some difficult news that we’re seeing in Washington,” said McAleenan. “On the good news front, the international trade volume continues to grow. We’re seeing a very robust recovery in terms of cross-border international trade for imports and exports. While we’re still finalizing our fiscal year 2012 stats, I can tell you that we’re going to be at a record for maritime container traffic—over 12 million containers for the first time. We’re going to be at a record for rail—right at the 3 million mark. We’re re-approaching our record in the truck environment—close to 11 million in truck containers crossing the border. And in the air environment, we’re exceeding previous records in reaching close to 100 million total air cargo shipments.”
McAleenan noted that further growth was predicted for fiscal year 2013. “From our perspective, we see that growth occurring and we need to continue to secure and facilitate it,” he said. “We know that we have a critical role at the ports of entry to make sure that nothing dangerous comes in. But at the same time, we don’t want to slow anything down because we cannot be a choke point to prevent further growth in that recovery.”
However, McAleenan explained, “we still have some milestones to reach. We know pretty clearly that our resources are going to be constrained into the future,” he said. “To me, that really highlights the importance of a program like this. It’s critical to our security, critical to the flow of trade, and critical to meeting these challenges of increased traffic and constrained resources.”
One of the underlying goals of the conference was to update the trade community on the program’s newest developments. “We haven’t had a conference in about a year, “said Dan Baldwin, CBP’s executive director of cargo and conveyance security who oversaw the team that organized the event. “We need to get the private sector up to speed as to where we are and introduce the agency’s new concepts.”
Baldwin explained that the conference title, “Unified Global Security,” highlights the central theme of these concepts. “We’re trying to be much more holistic in our approach for supply chain security. It’s about unifying and mutually recognizing various programs and initiatives that all have a nexus to C-TPAT,” he said. These include programs with other government agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard as well as international mutual recognition agreements with foreign governments. To date, CBP has signed seven mutual recognition agreements with New Zealand, Canada, Jordan, Japan, Korea, the European Union and, most recently, Taiwan.
The signing of joint work plans with Israel and Mexico were also announced at the conference. The work plans are initial steps toward mutual recognition agreements with these nations. “We’re trying to unify all of these approaches to partnership so that we are much more transparent,” said Baldwin. “Reduced transaction costs for the trade community will be another result.”
McAleenan announced the selection of a new C-TPAT program director. Lauren Kaufer, the former acting director of CBP’s personnel security division in the Office of Internal Affairs, will now head the program. Kaufer, a former civil litigation attorney, is a graduate of CBP’s Leadership Institute. “As part of the leadership program, she stood out as a future star,” said McAleenan.
One of the new benefits for C-TPAT Certified Companies is participation in CBP’s new Centers of Excellence and Expertise. The new industry-specific centers will manage entries of participating importers and help facilitate the importation of legitimate goods. “Our initial partners that we’ve been working with in the existing centers are C-TPAT members exclusively,” McAleenan told audience members. “And those companies are helping drive and shape what these Centers of Excellence and Expertise will become.”
This past year, there has been an increase in companies being suspended from the C-TPAT program. These increases are due to companies not being able to show current and continuous compliance, failing the C-TPAT Validation (audit) or due to a foreign supplier/service provider failing a C-TPAT Validation.
Be sure that your Company and most importantly your suppliers/service providers outside the U.S.A. comply with the C-TPAT Security Criteria.
Let us analyze the compliance of your Company and supply chain.
Request a no-cost, no-obligation Quote here or call us today at +1-855-692-8728 or send us an e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our services.