BLAINE, Wash. - A program placing carriers in the front-line battle against drug and weapons smuggling will soon be introduced by U.S. Customs at entry points along the U.S.-Canadian border.Jay Brandt...
BLAINE, Wash. – A program placing carriers in the front-line battle against drug and weapons smuggling will soon be introduced by U.S. Customs at entry points along the U.S.-Canadian border.
Jay Brandt, assistant port director for Trade Operations, U.S. Customs in Blaine, Wash., says the program will be similar to the Land Border Carrier Initiative at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The program’s designed to keep the equipment belonging to carriers and the merchandise they’re hauling from being used to smuggle contraband,” he says. “The traditional idea of contraband was drugs or money, but it really includes anything that might be introduced into our country illegally.”
The initiative is aimed particularly at the transport of terrorist weapons in the aftermath of 9/11 and will be rolled out in the next few months as part of the recently announced Customs and Trade Partnership against Terrorism. In return for participating in a training program that helps identify smuggled items, Canadian-based carriers may find their entry to U.S. border points easier and enjoy a competitive advantage over carriers not signed up to the program.
“A carrier who can say, ‘I’m a signatory, a member of the Customs/Trade Partnership against Terrorism’ – that may hold some weight when they’re out recruiting customers,” says Brandt.
He adds the initiative is significant for two reasons. First, its supply chain approach will mean Canadian carriers will be required by their key customers to sign-on; second, it will likely become a condition of participation in any expedited commercial system emerging from Canada/U.S. border talks. As further inducement to participate, the degree of a carrier’s compliance with the agreement may also become a mitigating factor in the assessment of penalties if narcotics are found in a vehicle belonging to them. In the U.S. this has proven to be “a powerful tool” say Customs officials, with more than 3,800 Carrier Initiative Agreements, and 27 Super Carrier Agreements being signed since 1995. Brandt says another key objective will be to reduce the number of overlapping security programs carriers face.
“There’s just so much going on at the border between Canada and the U.S. right now in terms of trying to work together,” he explains. “To encourage corporate entities, whether they be shippers or carriers, to sign on and help to provide supply chain security, you need to not make them do it three, four or five times.”
The B.C. Trucking Association (BCTA) has been in discussion with U.S. Customs about the program, says Brandt. Its response, he adds, has been mostly positive.
“To the extent that they’re a trusted carrier, it makes their life easier as well. Not that they’re exempt from inspection, but the more we know about them, the easier sometimes it is to make the decisions we need to make,” he says when discussing why BCTA members are getting involved.
In response to the U.S. initiative, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA) is also considering creating a similar security program as a companion to Customs Self-Assessment (CSA). The new Canada Customs direction will require the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and provincial trucking associations to work closely with CCRA to ensure that the program does not become a compliance burden on the industry.