US C-TPAT member exports to receive expedited EU customs clearance

4209_image002January, 2013 saw the United States and the European Union implemented the mutual recognition arrangement for their respective supply chain security programmes. The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) administers the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), which is now recognised as equivalent to the European Union’s Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programme.

Should they elect to allow CBP to share certain information with the European Union, US importers authorised under C-TPAT will be considered secure and their exports will receive a lower-risk score by the customs administrations of EU member states. In practice, certification translates into time and money savings for parties dealing with trusted operators. In that sense, certified operators are successfully marketing their status as a distinguishing competitive advantage.

Both programmes are voluntary, security-based programmes aimed at improving supply chain security. As programme members, importers receive lower risk-assessment scores in customs administrations’ computer targeting software. Therefore, members are subject to fewer security-related inspections and controls. The mutual recognition arrangement between the United States and the European Union allows for members of one programme to receive reciprocal benefits when exporting to the other jurisdiction.

However, not all C-TPAT members qualify for full AEO benefits. Only Tiers 2 and 3 C-TPAT importers (considered as more secure) may receive a lower risk-assessment score, and consequently undergo fewer inspections when exporting to an EU member state. In addition, in order to receive these benefits, C-TPAT members must expressly elect for the United States to share certain information with the European Union and certify that their exports meet all applicable requirements.

The mutual recognition arrangement may also exempt members’ facilities from undergoing validation site visits by both administrations when initially being certified or during revalidation visits. This benefit is available for every tier of C-TPAT membership.

The mutual recognition arrangement applies only to C-TPAT importers which also act as exporters. A C-TPAT manufacturer will benefit from the arrangement only if it also acts as the US exporter. For example, if a US company owns a C-TPAT-certified manufacturer in Mexico that directly ships merchandise to the European Union, those shipments will not benefit from the arrangement.

CBP’s targeting system recognises AEO-certified entities by their manufacturer identification number. Certified manufacturers will receive benefits under the arrangement regardless of whether they are the EU exporter. A certified exporter which is not a manufacturer may obtain a manufacturer identification number to gain from the benefits of mutual recognition. As such, AEO-certified manufacturers and exporters may benefit under the arrangement, but only US exporters are eligible for benefits.

Although the United States and the European Union have recently announced the possibility of a US-EU free trade agreement, this arrangement is a trade facilitation measure that companies may elect to participate in immediately, regardless of the results of potential free trade agreement negotiations.

The United States also has mutual recognition arrangements for supply chain security with Canada, Japan, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan. Source:  Sidley Austin LLP, and The International Law Office

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WCO Remembers September 11

Picture of Kunio Mikuriya at the World Customs...

WCO's Kunio Mikuriya

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11, WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya stated that “security, in particular global trade security, became a priority policy objective and is now part of Customs’ existing border protection portfolio to prevent such attacks from re-occurring”.

“Customs administrations across the globe have made considerable efforts to counter security threats,” stressed the Secretary General. “It is therefore fitting that as we commemorate the anniversary of 9/11, we renew our firm commitment to continue to take speedy action against terrorism and other forms of organized crime,” he concluded.

In response to 9/11, over the last 10 years the WCO has developed many international standards including the renowned SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade, and further supported national Customs administrations to implement the Framework through a vigorous and highly successful capacity building programme.

This Framework promotes supply chain security through the submission of advance cargo information, the application of risk management, the use of non-intrusive cargo scanning equipment, the development of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programmes, and partnerships between Customs administrations and between Customs and their trade stakeholders.

To further assist its Members and others who play a role in global trade security, the WCO has published a Research Paper – The Customs Supply Chain Security Paradigm and 9/11: Ten Years On and Beyond. Source WCO.

Importance of Seal Integrity for Customs

RFID SealSupply chain security in the maritime environment is underpinned by the need for seal integrity. The road to paperless trade eliminates much of the paperwork traditionally required for customs clearance and cargo reporting. The movement of ‘containerised’ import and export cargo does, however, require physical validation of the ‘integrity’ of cargo from its point of dispatch to point of delivery at destination. This is not wholly a customs requirement but at the same time one which any legitimate trader would expect in respect of the safe and secure transportation of his/her cargo.

Technology developments in the logistics industry see many forms of automated gate controls and inventory management. However, if this technology does not support a mechanism to ensure the validity of means of transport, conveyance equipment and seal, then there exists a risk of a breach in the movement of such goods.

From a customs perspective, all parties in the supply chain are both vulnerable and responsible for maintaining such integrity. For this reason, the introduction of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) programmes and security programmes require a customs administration to implement seal integrity. SARS already contemplated the need for this through provision in the Revenue Laws Amendment Act, introducing Section 11A – Seals and sealing of containers and sealing of packages and vehicles. Formal promulgation of this has not occurred due to the fact that it is dependent on the licensing of logistics operators, its self a modernisation deliverable.

To illustrate at a practical and operational level the import of seal integrity, please refer to an article, authored by Andre Landman (SARS), place under “Downloads”, titled “Seal Reporting Requirements for Containerised Goods“.