Mexico Customs will launch a pilot of its version of a supply chain security program for trusted shippers in May, an agency official confirmed last week.
The Alliance for Secure Commerce is being developed in the mold of the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and other authorized economic trader programs promoted by the World Customs Organization to reduce opportunities for criminal and terrorist infiltration of containers and truck trailers moving in international commerce.
Authorized economic operator (AEO) programs provide trade facilitation benefits as an incentive to companies that demonstrate that they and their overseas business partners have tight security measures for facilities, personnel, data sharing, transportation and container stuffing. Some programs, such as in the European Union, also offer reduced administrative requirements for companies that have high compliance rates with trade laws. C-TPAT is focused on U.S. importers while some foreign programs focus on exporters to help them avoid U.S. scrutiny and speed their goods to market.
Mexican officials hope to open the Alliance for Secure Commerce for full business participation by the end of the year or early 2012, said Héctor Zavier Landeras Almaraz, the director of the secure supply chain program, in an aside with a reporter at Customs and Border Protection’s Trade Symposium in Washington.
The program needs to be up and running by the middle of next year before the Mexican presidential elections in July to prevent any complications, he added.
Earlier, during a town hall-style meeting, Landeros said Mexican Customs is gathering expertise and best practices from other customs administrations, and learning first hand from CBP officials.
A key goal is to align the program as much as possible with C-TPAT to help lower the cost of trade for companies, he said. U.S. officials have said the more a foreign industry partnership program resembles its standards and procedures, the easier it is to grant reciprocal benefits to exporters from that nation.
Landeros said Mexican Customs officers are conducting joint validations in Mexico to learn how to monitor whether companies are following through on their security promises.