Will CSA be dropped as a requirement for inclusion in FAST?

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canada Border Services Agency says it might drop the current requirement for Canadian shippers to be approved under Customs Self Assessment in order for their shipments to be eligible for expedited customs clearance.

Instead, importers who provide transactional information to CBSA through the Advanced Commercial Information (ACI) system, are assessed as “low risk” and participate in the Partners in Compliance (PIP) security program could be allowed to have their shipments included in the FAST (Free and Secure Trade) expedited border clearance, Caron Wilson who manages the ACI program for CBSA told the Canadian Courier and Messenger Association Conference yesterday.

“Let me stress, this is simply a proposal,” Wilson said. “We are looking for feedback over the course of the next few months. We want to finalize things by the end of March.”

Such a move may be welcomed by carriers who have long complained the reticence of many shippers to become part of FAST makes their own investments in the border security program harder to justify. Carriers have often blamed the rigors of the CSA program for shippers’ reluctance to join Canada’s border security programs and asked that the CSA requirement be removed.

Wilson acknowledged CBSA heard as much during its meetings with carriers and shippers earlier this year and is willing to experiment.

“We may not be providing enough inspiration to the trading community to adopt new methods. We are looking at ways to better align the program,” Wilson said.

Meanwhile, Wilson said that although ACI will come into effect Dec. 12 for air carriers, requiring them to provide to provide electronic pre-notification to CBSA, plans to have ACI in effect for motor carriers by next spring are highly unlikely to be realized. In fact, she said, ACI may not come into effect for land transport in 2006 at all.

Wilson also referred to the Security and Prosperity Plan, an initiative being worked on by the governments of Canada, the US and Mexico to harmonize many of the regulations between the three NAFTA partners. Harmonizing the reporting requirements for highway and rail among the partners is one of the key objectives being considered, Wilson said.

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