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Three relatively simple things US CBP could do to help fix the border

Recently, the trade community in the US and Canada were asked by the new chief at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to come up with a list of "low-hanging fruit" that could be implemen...

Recently, the trade community in the US and Canada were asked by the new chief at the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency to come up with a list of “low-hanging fruit” that could be implemented to help enhance the balance between security and trade facilitation.

Everyone from the business community is united in the view that things have not gone as promised at the border; that the benefits of participating in the “trusted trader” programs like FAST and C-TPAT have not materialized.

While there are a host of issues and priorities -in terms of what might be classified as low-hanging fruit -measures that do not denigrate security; that would help make the border more efficient or less frustrating; that would not require gobs of money; or legislation -CTA and ATA got together and agreed on the following list:

Suspension of C-TPAT benefits

Single Incident vs. Systemic Problems: The right to due process and natural justice are underpinnings of our society and some of the things our troops are fighting for overseas.

Yet, motor carriers participating in C-TPAT face the possibility of a single security incident resulting in the immediate revocation of a carriers’ C-TPAT status.

Such a drastic measure occurs before an investigation is performed to uncover what led to the security incident.

Our proposed solution is that in the event of a security incident, CBP should: a) Not immediately suspend the motor carrier, and thus it should not ‘turn off’ its Status Verification Interface (SVI) number, until an investigation determines the nature of the illicit cargo and at what point it was introduced into the conveyance; and b) Consider a ‘probation’ period if the investigation demonstrates that the carrier was not at fault.

The probation can end once CBP is satisfied that the motor carrier has properly implemented the Minimum Security Criteria and considered establishing applicable best practices to reduce the risks of future security breaches.

If an investigation demonstrates a willful disregard on the part of the motor carrier of the C-TPAT Minimum Security Criteria, CBP could suspend the motor carrier and turn off its SVI number; or require the motor carrier to reapply and undergo again a full validation of the C-TPAT requirements prior to being re-admitted to C-TPAT.

A single security incident should not result in a motor carrier being automatically suspended unless an investigation demonstrates a “systemic security” problem and a lack of proper security measures by the trucking company.

Individual incidents, even if perpetrated by a company employee, should not be treated as systemic problems.

Empty trailer repositioning

The trucking industry is seeking a minor change in the interpretation of immigration rules to allow foreign drivers to reposition a foreignbased trailer in the US that did not enter and/or will not leave with the same driver.

Such flexibility would greatly improve not only driver and equipment efficiency, but also improve fuel consumption and reduce emissions due to unnecessary extra tractor movements. Today, foreign drivers are allowed to reposition an empty piece of equipment that either enters or exits with them.

Again, the additional flexibility would only impact foreignbased trailers that are in the US and need to be repositioned between two domestic points before being loaded and bound for the border.

We are urging that CBP provide this added flexibility to low-risk motor carriers that are members of the C-TPAT program as an added benefit to those carriers that have invested to participate in C-TPAT and/or PIP.

Such treatment would be reciprocal in the US and in Canada.

The Canadian government supports the industry with this solution and is prepared to proceed on a reciprocal basis when the US agrees.

In-transit movements

With the introduction of CBP’s ACE Truck e-Manifest, carriers moving goods in-transit are required to submit complete shipment information electronically to Customs in advance of arrival at the border.

To do this, carriers require full commercial invoice information for the shipment.

This is a particularly daunting, if not impossible task for less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers, where they may have the goods from literally hundreds of customers on-board.

As shippers and consignees are already reluctant to produce this information for what is essentially a domestic shipment, the move towards electronic processes, a measure that should streamline border clearance, has instead created inefficiencies in the supply chain.

Carriers are forced to abandon the efficiency of an in-transit move, and seek an alternate route adding extra miles which is also not timely or cost-effective or environmentally-conscious.

As Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) moves towards the introduction of the Advanced Commercial Information (ACI) Highway -comparable to ACE -the in-transit process will become automated but the full commercial information required by the US, will remain a non-requirement for Canada.

The demands for information make it difficult to comply, again particularly in the LTL segment where detailed shipment information is required from multiple shippers, and the matter is further complicated by differing demands from the two countries.

CTA and ATA strongly recommend that CBP remove the requirement for a carrier that is a member of the C-TPAT or PIP programs to submit full commercial information for domestic shipments that are part of an in-transit movement and require only a limited data set for goods moving in-transit.

This not only improves and creates dramatic time and cost savings for carriers, consignees and shippers in both the US and Canada, it also reduces emissions by eliminating unnecessary miles and brings added benefits to the low risk programs.

While on the surface these might seem like modest concessions, in combination they could have a meaningful impact on supply chain efficiency and provide additional value-added to companies that have invested in the myriad of border security programs that have been introduced over the past several years.

-David Bradley is president of the Ontario Trucking Association and chief executive officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance.

Truck News

Truck News

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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