Archives For October 8, 2013

US Customs CSI Inspection in the Port of Durban, South Africa

US Customs CSI Inspection in the Port of Durban, South Africa

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has not assessed risks at select foreign ports with U.S.-bound shipments since 2005, part of a string of failures that has left key ports without a CBP presence, the Government Accountability Office says. (Hmm, never mind the impact caused to Customs administration in the host countries……)

In examining CBP’s Container Security Initiative program, GAO found that the agency developed a model for ranking additional seaports according to risk in 2009, but never implemented it because of budget cuts, according to the report.

GAO applied that risk model to 2012 cargo shipment data and found that the CSI program had no presence at about half the ports CSP found high risk. Meanwhile, 20 percent of existing CSI program ports were at lower-risk locations, according to the findings (.pdf).

Although GAO acknowledged host countries are not always willing to accommodate a CSI presence, and that removal of a CSI presence can negatively affect diplomatic relations, auditors said periodic assessments of cargo shipped from foreign ports could help CBP better guard against terror-related shipments.

Although there have been no known incidents of cargo containers being used to transport WMD, the maritime supply chain remains vulnerable to attacks. We recognize that it may not be possible to include all of the higher-risk ports in CSI because CSI requires the cooperation of sovereign foreign governments.

To better ensure the effectiveness of the CSI program, GAO recommends that the Secretary of Homeland Security direct the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to periodically assess the supply chain security risks from all foreign ports that ship cargo to the United States and use the results of these risk assessments to (1) inform any future expansion of CSI to additional locations and (2) determine whether changes need to be made to existing CSI ports and make adjustments as appropriate and feasible.

Such assessments “would help ensure that CBP is allocating its resources to provide the greatest possible coverage of high-risk cargo to best mitigate the risk of importing weapons of mass destruction or other terrorist contraband into the United States through the maritime supply chain,” GAO said.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) concurred with the recommendation and said CBP would complete its first assessment by Aug. 12, 2014. To access or download the GAO Report on CSI, Click Here! Source: US Government Accounting Office

Foreign Ports That CBP Coordinates with Regarding Maritime Container Shipment Examinations, as of July 2013

Foreign Ports That CBP Coordinates with Regarding Maritime Container Shipment Examinations, as of July 2013 (Table: GAO)

 

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Port of Savannah (Picture: Customsnow.cm)

Port of Savannah (Picture: Customsnow.cm)

While US shippers dependent on some federal agencies to clear cargo are seeing delays at U.S. ports of entry, Savannah’s port has so far dodged that bullet.

Shipments requiring paperwork from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture — all of which face severe staff reductions because of the shutdown — have been delayed up to several hours, according to Marianne Rowden, president and CEO of the American Association of Exporters and Importers.

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the primary organization working the Port of Savannah, is among the federal agencies whose mission is considered “essential” and will largely remain intact.

CBP says the shutdown will only furlough about 6,000 out of the 58,000 agency employees. Many offices and port operations will continue functioning as usual.

But the shutdown has resulted in far fewer resources at the EPA, FDA and USDA to process certifications and other documents needed to clear some cargo, Rowden said, adding that shippers of food, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, radiological products and environmentally sensitive items should be ready for slower Customs clearance.

The partial shutdown affects the information technology-intensive shipping industry more than just on the Customs clearance side. Filings and data releases from agencies, including the Federal Maritime Commission and the International Trade Commission, have stopped.

The FMC, for example, isn’t accepting a variety of filings, nor is it accepting or acting on complaints and requests for dispute resolution. Source: Savannahnow.com

Namibia Map (www.fao.org)

Namibia Map (www.fao.org)

Namibia – Plans by Governor of the Karas Region, Bernardus Swartbooi, to establish a dry port facility at Keetmanshoop have been hailed as a “brilliant idea” by experts who are in unison that the idea is overdue. (Maybe it is just plain common sense! Will be interesting to see how the Namibian Revenue Authority facilitate the inland movement of transit containers from Walvis Bay.)

Swartbooi presented his proposal to change the face of Keetmanshoop by making it the pivot of trade between Namibia, South Africa and possibly the rest of Africa at the Annual Logistic and Transport Workshop last week.

According to him the new venture, estimated at roughly N$10million, will see Keetmanshoop linked directly by sea, rail and road with Namibia’s capital Windhoek, Africa’s largest economy, South Africa, and the rest of the Southern African Development Community in the form of a central north-south transport corridor.

Keetmanshoop is the only town in Namibia with eight border posts and has a working relationship with the North Cape Province in South Africa.

Swartbooi said the second phase of this development will stream into the creation of a free trade zone on the eastern side of Keetmanshoop that will not only attract foreign investors but create a wealth of jobs that will significantly reduce the country’s unemployment statistics.

He also mentioned that with a free trade zone the region can eventually venture into light manufacturing that will bring about positive spin-offs for the region and the entire Namibia as a whole.

“We fight against a trend that the south was left out.. If you close down the Walvis Bay port today we will feel it later, but if Lüderitz port is to be closed today the effect will be felt within hours. There is no argument about our strategic location. No-one can compete against our land availability,” he enthused.

Twenty hectares of serviced land have so far been secured for the project that will include two weighbridges, offload facilities and accommodation facilities for truck drivers and recreation.

“We are looking at enhancing road safety and to cut down on driver fatigue,” he explained adding that key stakeholders have not yet been identified and anchor participants are being sought.. “We are looking at a private public equity where we can give someone a lease of ninety years,” he stated.

According to the Director for the Namibia German Centre for Logistics, Neville Mbai, Keetmanshoop as a regional hub is a brilliant idea and will not only serve as a buffer during labour strikes in South Afica, but will surely ease the burden on Walvis Bay port and corridors.

“It is absolutely brilliant. Kharas is adjacent to the great Gauteng region, the breadbasket of Southern Africa if not the whole of Africa. What we want to see is a shorter road from Johannesburg to Namibia. Look at the road infrastructure of Walvis Bay, if we are to add more that road will be in trouble,” he said adding that with Keetmanshoop providing a hub Namibia will no longer be severely impacted by labour strikes in South Africa, as goods can be stored to cater for the Namibian market.

“The idea must be to have a concentration of logistics hubs scattered across the country and with the port of Lüderitz and the quantity of fish production the region certainly is deserving of a hub,” he noted.

At least 1 600 trucks pass through Keetmanshoop on a monthly basis with 80 percent of Namibia’s goods being are transported through this route.

Operations Manager for Logistics Support Services Quintin Simon argues that this is indeed a positive idea and with Keetmanshoop located in the centre, distribution will become easier and faster. Source: www.newera.com

Namibia flagSouth Africa remained Namibia’s leading trading partner, particularly on the imports front during the second quarter of 2013.

South Africa accounted for 70,1% of Namibia’s imports, followed by the Euro zone, Switzerland, Botswana and China; accounting for 3,6%, 3,5%, 2,9% and 2,8% respectively.

The remaining 17,1% was sourced from other countries such as the United Kingdom, Tanzania, United States of America, Zambia and other countries around the world, according to the September issue of the Bank of Namibia Quarterly Bulletin.

With regard to exports, Botswana, emerged the leading destination for Namibia’s exports during the second quarter. Botswana absorbed 19,6% of Namibian exports, overly dominated by rough diamonds. In the past, this position was exchanged between South Africa and the UK.

This followed a 10 year sales agreement between Botswana and De Beers that was signed in September 2011. South Africa, the Euro Area, UK, Switzerland, Angola and the US also remained prominent destinations for Namibia’s exports during the second quarter.

Namibia exported 14,4% of products to South Africa, 13, 2% to the Euro Area, 8,4% to Switzerland, 7,7% to Angola and 5,6% to the US. Countries such as China, Singapore, United Kingdom, Zambia and others also absorbed a noticeable portion of the Namibian exported commodities during the quarter under review.

Net services receipts recorded a net outflow on a quarterly and yearly basis during the second quarter of 2013, largely on account of net payments in other private services. The net services registered a deficit of N$88 million, year on year, during the quarter under review from a surplus of N$39 million.

The quarterly deficit balance was mainly reflected in the higher net outflows of other private services sub-category, which surged by four percent, quarter on quarter, to N$515 million and by 22,8% year on year. The outward movements of net services was however offset by the increased net inflows of travel services category that rose slightly by 1,1% and 11,6% quarter on quarter and year on year, respectively to N$761 million. Source: New Era (Namibia)