• Container security at Customs


    Previous sections have referred to such security issues as quality, performance and finance. But there are also physical risks that may occur once the container leaves the loading station. It may be tampered with for reasons of theft or smuggling, both occurrences that are on the rise worldwide. Favourite locations for this type of crime are ports and container terminals, or during road or rail transport.

    United States

    The aftermath of the terrible events of 11 September 2001 brought much stricter inspection controls on containers and even coffee samples entering the United States and probably also other countries. There are many millions of containers in use worldwide, carrying much of the world’s cargo, and relatively few of them are ever physically inspected since to do so would cause bottlenecks that would not sit well with just-in-time logistics. To deal with such concerns the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced a Food Bioterrorism Regulation that requires all those handling food products, including green coffee, to be registered with it. See www.cfsan.fda.gov Information is also available at www.ncausa.org. See also 12.06 HACCP and the USA.

    In addition US Customs have initiated C-TPAT (Customs–Trade Partnership against Terrorism), a government–business programme to strengthen overall supply chain and border security. For more on this see www.cbp.gov and search for C-TPAT.C-TPAT is more extensive where US Customs review company security and control systems. It is voluntary but once an importer has been registered costs will be lower as there will be fewer Customs inspections. Foreign companies shipping to the US who may not have links with a C-TPAT registered importer can make use of an Agency Service offered by the National Coffee Association of the USA.

    The NCA C-TPAT program is to help the industry partner with the US government to enhance homeland security while easing potential burdens on commerce. The NCA has partnered with the Global Security Verification (GSV) cross sector industry initiative (www.importsecurity.com) and Intertek to develop the industry’s shared information platform designed to facilitate importers’ and exporters’ participation and compliance with C-TPAT requirements. The platform will be a registry of foreign suppliers and their C-TPAT related security practices. Industry importers whom are currently and/or seeking C-TPAT membership can utilize the NCA C-TPAT shared information platform for efficient and cost-effective means of collecting and maintaining necessary documentation. In addition to the supplier registry, the platform is designed to provide valuable information and tools to users to facilitate application to the C-TPAT program.

    Visit http://ctpat.ncausa.org for more on this and on the registration process itself.

    Under the Container Security Initiative (CSI) all high-risk cargo is to be inspected before loading at origin and to this end US Customs have established a presence in a number of foreign ports. For food shipments US Customs now require advance notice, no more than 5 days before arrival and no later than noon the day prior to arrival for discharge. In addition, the “24 Hour Advance Manifest Rule” obliges shipping companies to transmit cargo manifest details to US Customs 24 hours prior to a vessel’s ETA at the port of loading. Cargo for which the required details have not been transmitted as per this rule will therefore not be loaded. Should a certain shipment be considered suspect then US Customs will issue a DNL message: Do Not Load.

    European Union

    In early 2004 the US and the European Union also signed a shipping security deal that will extend the Container Security Initiative screening program to all EU states. Since then the European Commission has adopted Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1875/2006 of 18 December 2006 aimed at increased security for shipments entering or leaving the EU and providing greater facilitation for compliant operators.

    The Regulation has implemented four measures as follows:

    • A risk management framework ensuring that customs control of goods crossing the EU.
    • An Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Certificate will be granted to reliable economic operators.
    • Traders will have to supply customs authorities with advance information on goods brought into, or out of, the EC.
    • Customs authorities will be required to exchange information electronically on exports between the customs offices involved in the procedure (export control system).

    A copy of the Regulation can be downloaded from the following link:
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2006/l_360/l_36020061219en00640125.pdf but the following offers a brief explanation of what this means:

    Authorized Economic Operator: Reliable and compliant traders will benefit from simplifications in the customs procedures and/or from facilitation with regard to customs controls relating to safety and security under the Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Certification scheme.
    The AEO concept should ensure a safer and more secure end-to-end supply chain. Being recognised as an AEO will constitute an added value for the operator, as it demonstrates compliance with solid security criteria and controls. This will provide a competitive advantage to participating companies.

    Information on goods prior leaving or entering the EU territory: Traders will have to supply customs authorities with advance information on goods brought into, or out of, the European Community (entry and exit summary declarations).
    This will enable customs authorities to carry out better risk analysis, e.g. before goods arrive in the customs territory, and to focus on high risk cargo due to the availability of risk-information at an early stage. It will also allow quicker processing and release upon arrival, resulting in a benefit for traders

    NB: This is of particular importance to coffee exporters in that the advance information on shipments must be sent to the EU customs at the first point of arrival 24 hours before the loading of a container on the vessel. See Annex 30A of the Regulation for further details. Different time limits apply to various modes of transport but the 24-hour requirement covers virtually all coffee shipments.

    What is now known as the European Union (EU) Advance Cargo Declaration Regime entered into force on January 1, 2011.

    For further information visit http://www.ecsa.eu/publications/101.pdf. NB: if this does not work go to www.ecsa.eu and look under Publications.
    Alternatively see also the FAQ section at http://ec.europa.eu/ecip/help/faq/index_en.htm

    Export control system: Customs authorities will be required to exchange information electronically on exports between the customs offices involved in the procedure. This constitutes the first step in the full computerisation of the EU customs; the so-called electronic customs project (IP/05/1501)
    Once all Member States are connected to the Export Control System Community exporters will receive the proof of export immediately after the exit of goods, enabling all related processes (VAT refunds, etc.) to be speeded up.

    Further information on the security aspects of the Customs Code can be found at:

    NB. Of course most shippinglines are well aware of, and well versed in, the application of the different US and EU directives, and are mostly dealing with them by electronic means. They are more or less forced to do so on shippers’ behalf because potentially they are liable for substantial fines where no or incorrect advance information is provided. Because of this additional administrative workload some shippinglines have introduced a new category of fees to cover the cost – see also 05.01.07.

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