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CBP Announces US-Singapore Mutual Recognition and Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements

Customs' Secure Trade Partnership Signing Agreement with Signapore

CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske and Singapore Customs Director General Ho Chee Pong sign a U.S.– Singapore CMAA and MRA between CBP and Singapore’s Customs’ Secure Trade Partnership.
(Photo by: U.S. Department of State)

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced the signing of a mutual recognition agreement and a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) between Singapore and the United States, effective as of December 1, 2014.

A mutual recognition agreement between the United States’ C-TPAT program and another country’s customs program—in this case Singapore’s Secure Trade Partnership (STC)—certifies that the foreign customs program’s requirements, regulations, and security standards are similar to those of C-TPAT, and produces benefits for companies operating in the mutually recognized countries.

A Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement establishes and facilities increased information-sharing between the two countries, allowing partners in the CMAA to more easily and effectively enforce their customs laws.

The institution of a mutual recognition agreement, as well as a CMAA between the U.S. and Singapore allows the processes pertaining to importing and exporting between the two countries to become more simplified, while also enabling both countries to better regulate their customs processes, respectively.

Additionally, mutual recognition agreements and CMAAs result in their own set of benefits. Partners in mutual recognition agreements enjoy the following benefits as a result of each country acknowledging the similarities between its own customs program and that of its partner country:

  • Faster validation process
  • Fewer exams on cargo
  • Common security standards
  • Higher level of customs efficiency
  • Front-of-the-line processing
  • Marketability

At the same time, partners in a CMAA are better able to protect themselves from the negatives associated with trade, such as terrorism-related events/activities, trafficking, money-laundering, duty evasion, and proliferation because of the increased communication between partner countries that a CMAA establishes.

The U.S. also has mutual recognition agreements with the following Supply Chain Security programs: New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea, Jordan, the European Union, Taiwan, Israel, and Mexico.

Source: U.S. Customs & Border Protection

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

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CBP Announces US-Mexico Mutual Recognition Agreement

Mexican flag

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced the establishment of a mutual recognition agreement between Mexico and the United States, as of October 17, 2014.

A mutual recognition agreement between the U.S. C-TPAT program and another country—in this case Mexico’s Tax Administration Service (SAT)—certifies that the foreign customs program’s requirements and regulations are similar to those of C-TPAT, and produces benefits for companies operating in mutually recognized countries.

In particular, the US-Mexico mutual recognition agreement provides for increased cooperation between C-TPAT and SAT’s New Certified Companies Scheme (NEEC), the Mexican equivalent to C-TPAT.

Mutual recognition between the U.S. and Mexico allows processes pertaining to importing and exporting between the two countries to become more simplified. Imports and exports exchanged between the U.S. and Mexico are subject to the following benefits as a result of the mutual recognition agreement:

  • Faster validation process
  • Fewer exams of cargo
  • Common security standards
  • Higher levels of customs efficiency
  • Front-of-the-line processing
  • Marketability

Additionally, the U.S. has mutual recognition agreements with the following supply chain security programs: New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea, Jordan, the European Union, Taiwan, and Israel.

For information on how to allow C-TPAT to share company information with SAT, and to read CBP’s original publication regarding the US-Mexico Mutual Recognition Agreement, click here.

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

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CBP Announces U.S.-Israel Mutual Recognition Agreement

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced a mutual recognition agreement has been enacted between Israel and the United States as of June 27th, 2014.

A mutual recognition agreement between the United States’ C-TPAT program and another country—in this case Israel’s Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) program—certifies that the foreign customs program’s requirements and regulations are similar to those of C-TPAT, and produces benefits for companies operating in mutually recognized countries.

The establishment of a mutual recognition program between the U.S. and Israel allows processes pertaining to importing and exporting between the two countries to become more simplified. Imports and exports exchanged between the U.S. and Israel are subject to the following benefits as a result of each country acknowledging the similarities between its own customs program and that of its partner country:

  • Faster validation process
  • Fewer exams on cargo
  • Common security standards
  • Higher level of customs efficiency
  • Front-of-the-line processing
  • Marketability

Additionally, the U.S. has mutual recognition agreements with the following Supply Chain Security programs: New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea, Jordan, the European Union, and Taiwan.

Read CBP’s original publication regarding the U.S.—Israel Mutual Recognition Agreement, here.

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

 

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U.S. Customs Announces C-TPAT Exporter Eligibility Requirements

Since its implementation in 2001, C-TPAT has historically been open to U.S importers. Customs & Border Protection has now released exporter eligibility requirements, meaning that U.S. exporters will have the opportunity to become C-TPAT certified.

In order to become C-TPAT certified and start receiving C-TPAT benefits, exporters must do the following:

  • Actively export out of the United States
  • Staff a business office in the United States
  • Have an Employee Identification Number (EIN) or Dun & Bradstreet (DUNS) number
  • Designate an individual within the company to be the main contact for the C-TPAT program, as well as an alternative in place to take over for that individual if need be
  • Uphold agreement to maintain C-TPAT minimum security criteria
  • Create a C-TPAT supply chain security program detailing how the exporter’s internal policy will meet and maintain minimum security criteria
  • Demonstrate compliance with export reporting for a 12-month period leading up to the time of application
  • Be in good standing with government agencies such as the Department of Commerce, the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the DEA, and the Department of Defense

Processes must also be in place for C-TPAT applicants to screen and select potential business partners, so that all aspects of the applicant’s supply chain are secure. For business partners within the supply chain that are eligible for C-TPAT, the applicant must provide proper documentation. If business partners within the supply chain are not eligible for C-TPAT, then the applicant must prepared to show that the business partner is at least meeting C-TPAT security requirements.

Additionally, exporters applying for C-TPAT need to have security plans in place for the following areas:

  • Container security
  • Conveyance tracking and monitoring
  • Physical access controls
  • IT security
  • Personnel and procedural security

Although these eligibility requirements for exporters have been released, there is currently no word on when C-TPAT will officially be open to exporters who wish to apply.

C-TPAT Exporter Eligibility Requirements (U.S. Customs & Border Protection)

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

 

 

 

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C-TPAT Holiday Safety Alert

Holidays present logistics companies, manufacturers, and facilities with a difficult challenge: the closing of facilities for holiday vacations leave them highly vulnerable to theft. When facilities are shut down during this time, the risk of thieves accessing and stealing cargo increases greatly since facilities are left unattended. In order to prevent cargo loss and theft, Customs recommends the following:

At Facilities:

  • Examine all surveillance equipment to make sure it is functioning properly.
  • Make sure all battery-powered doors and phones are in working order.
  • Secure all facility perimeters, including any fencing and barriers.
  • All perimeter lighting should be inspected and any non-working fixtures replaced.
  • Set any time/sensor lights so that they switch on while the facility is closed.
  • Update alarm call list and ensure that anyone responsible responds to all alarm calls while the facility is closed.
  • If desired, set up extra patrols in the facility area with local authorities.
  • All keys should be removed from warehouse equipment.

Freight In-Transit on Long Distance Runs:

  • Tractors and trailers should not be left unattended.
  • Park all vehicles in areas that have adequate surveillance and lighting.
  • Utilize kingpin locks, glad-hand locks, and/or steering wheel locks when vehicles are parked.
  • Secure trailer doors with industrial strength padlocks.
  • Remove all keys from vehicles.
  • Make periodic checks on vehicles when parked.
  • Inform dispatch when and where vehicles have been dropped, as well as estimated time of arrival.

Read Customs & Border Protection’s bulletin regarding this holiday alert.

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

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BIN: A C-TPAT Best Practice at the Port of Antwerp

In February 2014 C-TPAT announced its recognition of a best practice implemented at the Port of Antwerp in Belgium, the second largest port in Europe.

In order to close security gaps and increase port security, the Port of Antwerp instituted the Neighborhood Information Network (BIN). This program allows the anonymous reporting of information regarding suspicious activity at the port to local police and the companies participating in BIN, thus opening lines of communication between these companies and law enforcement and allowing the two to work together to increase security and prevent crime at the port.

BIN was implemented in response to an increase in the number of criminal acts perpetrated at the port as a result of a lack of appropriate security. For example, previous to the development of BIN, criminals were able to gain access to port computers and track containers loaded with narcotics. In other cases, criminals stole various companies’ information as a means to arrange the import of narcotics under a legitimate company’s name. Since the initiation of BIN, the number of cases such as these has decreased.

Security, for ports of all sizes, is of utmost importance as it is a means to protect incoming and outgoing cargo from becoming a vehicle for crime and terrorism. C-TPAT works to secure supply chains across the globe and improve security, and as such, recognizes BIN as a best practice.

Read Custom & Border Protection’s bulletin regarding this requirement.

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

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C-TPAT Employee Screening Requirements

In order to ensure that Partners are compliant with U.S immigration law, C-TPAT requires the use of E-Verify to certify all employees’ eligibility status to work in the United States.

Read Customs & Border Protection’s bulletin regarding this requirement here: http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/bullentin_feb14.pdf

This system compares completed Form I-9s with data from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration in order to confirm that an individual is eligible for hire. In order to meet this requirement and use E-Verify, Partners must complete the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for every employee.

U.S. employers face very specific requirements when hiring new employees, so it is crucial that C-TPAT Partners examine and verify potential employees’ eligibility no matter their immigration status through the completion of the Form I-9 and the subsequent use of E-Verify.

If an I-9 violation is discovered by C-TPAT, the Supply Chain Security Specialist will guide the Partner in coming up with an appropriate solution, but will not issue a fine or penalty. If another agency (non-voluntary, unlike C-TPAT) discovers an I-9 violation during review of the Partner, employers may be fined.

Additional Information

Form I-9

Information on E-Verify

 

By Abby Frank, Consulting Coordinator

 

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C-TPAT-To Join or Not to Join

Is your company still on the fence about participating in Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT)?

Are the benefits of 3.5 to 5 times fewer inspections, access to FAST lanes, securing your supply chain (and hence, your reputation), plus the opportunity to participate in other U.S. Customs & Border Protection programs not enough of an enticement?

Here’s an incentive that may sway your company’s mind: the loss of business opportunities.

U.S. Customs strongly advises all C-TPAT partners to encourage their business partners to participate in C-TPAT. Many importers have taken this message to heart, and are requiring importers they purchase from domestically to also be C-TPAT certified in order to do business with them. A well recognized company does not want to be linked with a supplier who experienced a security breach within their supply chain, no matter how small the supplier.

As U.S. Customs continues to mutually recognize the supply chain security programs of other countries*, we are seeing more foreign participants requiring their international trade partners to participate in their own country’s supply chain security program. Foreign manufacturers understand inspection of their cargo is minimal when their entire supply chain is certified in mutually recognized supply chain programs, resulting in quicker processing time of their cargo and availability of their product in the market.

Doing business with companies certified in mutually recognized supply chain programs lessens the burden of work when assessing your supply chain. You don’t have to assess a business partner that is already certified in a supply chain program–they’ve already done that for you, and their Customs agency has confirmed that they’ve done their due diligence by certifying and validating them.

Instead of thinking about whether or not your company should participate in C-TPAT, ask yourself this: can we afford to lose business opportunities because we aren’t certified?

*U.S. Customs & Border Protection mutually recognizes the following foreign supply chain programs: Canada, EU, Japan, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan.

Beverley Seif is Vice President & General Manager of Mohawk Global Trade Advisors. Read more about Beverley.

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New ISO 17712 Standards for High Security Seals

New standards for high security seals will go into effect on May 15, 2014. C-TPAT requires high security seals to meet or exceed PAS ISO 17712:13 standards, although C-TPAT certified partners can continue to use container seals that meet PAS ISO 17712:10 standards until their stock is depleted.

C-TPAT certified partners must advise their business associates of the new container seal requirements to ensure they continue to meet the C-TPAT criteria for seal standards.

All parties who purchase container seals should request conformance certificates provided by an accredited independent lab prior to purchase, as proof that the seals meet PAS ISO 17712:13 standards.

Additional Information

C-TPAT Bulletin – Compliance with ISO’s 17712 Standards for High Security Seals (U.S. Customs & Border Protection)

 

Bev Seif is Vice President & General Manager for Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

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