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23 July 2003

U.S. Customs Proposes Antiterrorist Regulations on Cargo

All means of transportation to be affected, it says

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has proposed regulations on cargo shipped to and from the United States to target more effectively shipments posing a terrorist risk.

In a July 22 new release, the agency, part of the Homeland Security Department, said the proposed regulations require advance information in electronic format on cargo being sent to and from the United States by air, land or sea.

The agency said the proposed rules would allow it to assess the terrorist risk associated with these shipments before their arrival at the border, thus making movement across the border faster.

Following is the text of the news release:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection

July 22, 2003

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY PROPOSES REGULATIONS
TO IMPROVE CARGO SECURITY

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, today announced the publication of proposed regulations to obtain advance information concerning shipments of goods to the U.S. These proposed regulations implement Section 343(a) of the Trade Act of 2002. The proposed regulations represent another step in the Department of Homeland Security's ongoing efforts to build smarter and more secure borders. The proposed regulations require advance information, in electronic format, on cargo destined to and from the United States for each mode of transportation: air, truck, rail and sea.

"These security measures developed by Customs and Border Protection are important to the protection of America and the American people," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. "Advance cargo information is essential to not only preventing instruments of terrorism from being shipped into this country, but also to speed the flow of legitimate cargo across our borders."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will run the cargo data through an automated targeting system that is linked to various law enforcement databases, and thus the proposed regulations will enable CBP to do a better job of identifying shipments that pose a potential terrorist risk. Today, many shipments, e.g. by commercial trucks, are admitted into the U.S. without this automated targeting taking place because CBP receives cargo data in paper format upon arrival to the United States. As a consequence, the process for assessing the risks associated with these shipments cannot be done prior to arrival at the border and thus makes movement across the border slower and less efficient. The Trade Act provided the Department of Homeland Security with the authority to change these antiquated, paper-driven processes for cargo crossing our borders.

"Information is the key to improving many of our border and transportation security systems," said Asa Hutchinson, Undersecretary for Border and Transportation Security. "This rule will help provide better information earlier in the process to help our officers do an even better job of targeting at risk cargo."

The proposed regulations were developed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection with significant input from the trade community and the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA). In the proposed regulations, CBP carefully considered, and in many cases adopted, recommendations from the trade. The proposed regulations also closely track a similar proposal by CCRA.

"These regulations will permit us to risk manage far more effectively for the terrorist threat. That's what building smart borders is all about," said CBP Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. "The proposed regulations are the result of a careful and considered effort to strike the appropriate balance between security and trade facilitation."

The following are the proposed timelines for each transportation mode;

Proposals for Imports:
-- Air and Courier: 4 hours prior to arrival in U.S., or "wheels up" from certain nearby areas
-- Rail: 2 hours prior to arrival in the U.S.
-- Vessel: 24 hours prior to landing at foreign port
-- Truck: FAST [Free and Secure Trade]: 30 minutes prior to arrival in U.S.; Non-FAST: 1 hour prior to arrival in the U.S.

Proposals for Exports:
-- Air and Courier: 2 hours prior to departure from the U.S.
-- Rail: 4 hours prior to attachment of engine before going to a foreign area
-- Vessel: 24 hours prior to departure from the last U.S. port
-- Truck: 2 hours prior to border crossing

The full text of the proposed regulations is available on the Customs and Border Protection Web site at www.cbp.gov.

The public has 30 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register to submit their comments to CBP on the proposals. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is a new agency within the Department of Homeland Security that unifies U.S. Customs, Immigration and Agriculture inspectors and the Border Patrol.

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