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New C-TPAT Criteria For Furniture Importers Take Effect (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism)

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From Tom Craig, LTD Management, Supply Chain / Logistics Consulting, tomc@ltdmgmt.com. Information from American Shipper Daily. After five drafts and more than six months of work, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has unveiled its final baseline standards for importers participating in the voluntary Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Without much fanfare, CBP posted the long-awaited criteria on its Web site Friday along with a phased implementation schedule that took effect immediately. The new criteria are a compilation of best practices CBP has identified during the first three years of the program that it thinks all importers should follow to raise the bar on security and provide a common set of expectations. The criteria appear to have changed little from the previous two drafts, but are a departure from the prior policy of enlisting participation based on recommended practices. As of March 25, new importer applicants will need to meet or exceed the security criteria before they are accepted into the program and can receive reduced exam rates and other benefits. Importers who have had their security profiles reviewed and certified by Customs will have 60 days to implement measures for container security (including the placement of a high security seal and procedures to verify the integrity of the box at the point of stuffing), facility security andaccess controls for employees and visitors. Existing members will also have 120 days to enhance their internal controls over employee background checks, supply chain documentation, information technology and security training. The final compliance phase will kick in six months from now, when existing importers must verify that overseas suppliers and transportation providers have appropriate security procedures in place to prevent a terrorist weapon being inserted in a shipping container. The draft instructs importers to verify whether business partners are C-TPAT members and, if not, requires them to demonstrate that they are meeting the baseline C-TPAT security criteria. CBP said it will verify that baseline security measures are in place when it conducts on-site visits to validate importers are meeting the terms of their agreement. More than 8,800 companies have signed up for C-TPAT, half of which are certified. CBP has only validated about 460 companies. The new C-TPAT criteria for importers can be found at: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/import/commercial_enforcement/ctpat/criteria_impo rters/.

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