Importers that feel they are ready to increase supply chain security should implement the new requirements of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, a public-private association established in November 2001 to protect the importation of cargo, said Jason M. Waite, attorney for Alston and Bird LLP.
At the April 12 meeting of the Independent Freight Forwarders and Customs House Brokers Association of Atlanta, Mr. Waite discussed new requirements for C-TPAT members that were put in place to increase supply chain security and prevent potential terrorists from infiltrating supply chain management. Membership into the association is voluntary, but the government encourages enrollment to increase domestic security.
New C-TPAT requirements call for enhanced property security including fencing around storage facilities, increased lighting, video surveillance and alarm systems. Extensive pre-employment verifications, background checks and partner screenings for an importer’s manufacturer, product supplier or vendor will also be mandatory.
Mr. Waite was supportive of companies increasing their security measures, but he warned that smaller companies might have trouble implementing C-TPAT requirements.
“It may not be for everybody,” he told GlobalAtlanta. “If you’re a small operation and you just can’t handle this, that’s okay. You’re not unpatriotic,” he said.
According to the U.S. Customs Web site, C-TPAT members benefit from reduced border inspections and border times, access to C-TPAT membership lists and contact with supply chain specialists. Mr. Waite noted that employee safety, improved public relations and reduced insurance costs were additional advantages for the 8,800 companies enrolled in the program.
He advised against ignoring the new requirements, which may be a temptation to companies that find it difficult to implement the security measures or believe that an under-manned, under-funded customs agency will be ill-equipped to enforce security requirements. Instead, Mr. Waite suggested that C-TPAT members contact the U.S. Customs office to see what sort of flexibility the agency might offer. He also suggested that companies interested in joining C-TPAT review their security situation before agreeing to be a member.
“Everybody has some interest in security. Evaluate it. See how close you are to the standards and then decide,” he said. “Make the choice and make it for the right reasons.”
Mr. Waite works in Washington but will return to Atlanta on Thursday, May 12 as a guest speaker for a Georgia World Trade Association seminar on international trade co-hosted by Alston and Bird.
For more information about C-TPAT visit www.customs.gov or contact Mr. Waite at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-756-3455.
For additional information about the GWTA seminar contact Monica Starks at 404-881-4071.
To learn more about freight forwarders association or access links useful to importers visit the association’s new Web site at www.iffchba.org.