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Still Work to Be Done

There's definitely reason to celebrate following the recent release by Customs authorities on both sides of the border of reworked pre-notification standards for transborder hauls. And there's just as...


There’s definitely reason to celebrate following the recent release by Customs authorities on both sides of the border of reworked pre-notification standards for transborder hauls. And there’s just as much reason to keep the pressure on both Customs authorities. There is still work to be done.

The proposals unveiled late last month show that, finally, the bureaucrats understand that increased security must go hand-in-hand with increased efficiency. They also indicate that the heavy-handed, behind-closed-doors approach that the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) employed when it unveiled its disastrous initial strawman proposals earlier this year is not necessary and that industry can play a constructive role in ensuring a safe and efficient supply chain.

In a nutshell, CBP is proposing that FAST-approved motor carriers hauling FAST-approved shipments must pre-notify Customs 30 minutes ahead of arrival at the border; those involved in the PAPS program must report one hour prior to arrival. On our side of the border, Canada Customs and Revenue Agency is proposing that FAST-approved motor carriers hauling FAST-approved shipments require no advance reporting prior to entering Canada while non-FAST approved motor carriers must report one hour prior to arrival. As the Canadian Trucking Alliance put it, the proposals are certainly “liveable” and markedly different from the initial proposals of four hours advance notification for shipments into the U.S. and 24 hours for export movements out of the U.S.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the Private Motor Truck Council deserve a lot of credit for getting CBP to rethink its position. As Evan MacKinnon notes in our Executive File this month (see page 14), “right now, if U.S. Customs wants information on Canadian security border issues they contact the CTA rather than the Canadian government.” I think this is more than just proud talk. The trucking industry through its associations stepped up to the plate while some shipper organizations, who have just as much at stake and represent even larger interests, failed to deliver.

But as I’ve already noted, there is still work to be done over the next 30-day comment period.

Until CBP is able to provide motor carriers with an automated manifest system under its still unfinished Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) import system, the industry will have to comply with the advance cargo rules using several existing release systems: Free and Secure Trade (FAST); Pre-Arrival Processing System (PAPS); Border Release Advanced Selectivity System (BRASS) and Customs Automated Forms Entry System (CAFES). ACE is not expected to be operational for at least another year and the problem with the existing systems – aside from the confusion created by having multiple systems – is that they can conflict with each other and result in border delays.

Sandra Scott, trade advocate for Roadway Express, provides a telling example: Under the PAPS system brokers fax release data in barcode form to Customs’ border stations. Inspectors scan the information and order the truck to proceed.

Yet it’s current practice that if a truck is carrying more than five PAPS shipments, it’s diverted to a Customs’ secondary area, so the primary booths are not tied up by having to scan too many bar codes. So if a FAST-approved carrier, who is supposed to get expedited treatment at Customs’ primary areas, is carrying several PAPS shipments, he could lose the benefits of the FAST lane.

Another issue involves security credentialing for Canadian drivers hauling in and out of the U.S. The CTA already appears to have caught the attention of Asa Hutchinson, Under Secretary, Border & Transportation Security at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with its suggestion that the FAST card be used for security credentialing of Canadian truck drivers required by other U.S. programs such as cross-border movements of hazardous materials and the Transportation Worker Identity Card.

Now that the industry has U.S. authorities seeing straight on the “big picture” of border security, it’s time to fine tune the processes involved down to the working level.


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