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02 May 2003

U.S. Expands Enforcement of Maritime Cargo Security Rules

(Imposes monetary penalties for non-compliance) (940)

The U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is expanding
enforcement of the "24-hour rule" that requires advance cargo
declarations for vessels sailing from foreign ports to the United
States.

In a May 1 news release, CBP said it would begin May 4 to issue "Do
Not Load" messages for carriers that fail to provide adequate cargo
descriptions, and to impose monetary penalties for late submissions.
Previous enforcement efforts had focused only on "significant"
violations of the 24-hour rule, which became effective in December
2002, according to CBP.

Starting May 15, CBP will issue "Do Not Load" messages for clear
violations of the name and address requirement for cargo recipients
and will impose monetary penalties for foreign cargo that does not
have a valid description and was loaded without providing U.S.
officials 24-hour advance notice.

Carriers may be assessed a $5,000 penalty for first violations and
$10,000 for any subsequent violations, CPB said.

The bureau said that it had reviewed more than 2.4 million bills of
lading between February 2 and April 29 and that about 260 containers
with inadequate cargo descriptions were denied loading for violation
of the 24-hour rule. Most of these violations were resolved in time
for the shipment to make its original voyage, according to the news
release.

CBP became an agency of the Department of Homeland Security on March
1, 2003, combining employees from the Department of Agriculture, the
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), the Border Patrol and
the U.S. Customs Service.

Following is the text of the news release:

(begin text)

Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Thursday, May 01, 2003

CBP Expands Enforcement of the 24-Hour Rule

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
Commissioner Robert C. Bonner today announced that CBP will begin the
next phase of enforcement for the 24-hour rule. The 24-hour rule
requires an advance cargo declaration from sea carriers and became
effective on December 2, 2002. CBP uses the cargo information to
identify and eliminate potential terrorist threats before a vessel
sails from a foreign port to U.S. seaports, rather than after a vessel
and its cargo arrives in the United States.

The expanded enforcement actions include:

1. On May 4, 2003, CBP will issue "Do Not Load" messages for
containerized cargo that has an invalid or incomplete cargo
description. Initially, enforcement efforts focused only on
significant violations of the cargo description requirements of the
24-hour rule. For example, the use of such vague cargo descriptions a
"Freight-All-Kinds," "Said-To-Contain," or "General Merchandise" was
not tolerated.

2. On May 4, 2003, CBP will issue monetary penalties for late
submission of cargo declarations.

3. On May 15, 2003, CBP will issue "Do Not Load" messages for clear
violations of the consignee name and address requirement. For example,
consignee fields left blank, or the use of "To Order" and "To Order of
Shipper" without corresponding information in the consignee field and
notify party field, or consignee name with no address, incomplete
address or invalid address are not acceptable.

4. On May 15, 2003, CBP will issue monetary penalties for Foreign
Remaining on Board (FROB) cargo that has an invalid cargo description,
and has been loaded onboard the vessel without providing CBP a 24-hour
time frame for targeting.

Carriers may be assessed a $5,000 penalty for first violation and
$10,000 for any subsequent violation attributable to the master.

Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs) may be assessed
liquidated damages in the amount of $5,000. Every subsequent violation
will also be $5,000.

"The global supply chain and the seaports of the United States are
more secure from terrorist threat since the inception of the 24-hour
rule, but there is still more work to do," said Commissioner Bonner.
"We are taking the next step in our compliance strategy to see that
all of the rule's requirements are complied with. Our goal is to
achieve full compliance quickly and efficiently while still
maintaining a high rate of trade compliance."

On February 2, 2003, enforcement of the rule began. This initial phase
focused on significant violations of the cargo description
requirement. Vague cargo terms such as "freight of all kinds," "said
to contain," "consolidated cargo," "general merchandise," and "various
retail merchandise" were not accepted. Containerized cargo with this
type of description was issued a "Do Not Load" message while still in
the foreign port. If cargo was loaded without prior approval by CPB,
the container was denied permit to unlade at all U.S. ports.

CBP reviewed more than 2.4 million bills of lading for the period
between February 2 to April 29, 2003. About 260 containers with
inadequate cargo descriptions were denied loading for violation of the
24-hour rule. Most of these violations were resolved in time for the
shipment to make its original voyage. CBP expects to see the same type
of strong compliance by the trade under the second phase of
enforcement.

CBP has posted a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) section on its Web
site (www.cpb.gov) for those who have questions about the 24-hour
rule. Additionally, members of the trade community can email their
questions to CBP at traderelations@customs.treas.gov. CBP is also
working with the Treasury Advisory Committee on the Commercial
Operations of the U.S. Customs Service (COAC) to implement the rule.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)