Mexico to start trusted shipper program
Mexico plans to launch a trial version of the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism in the first half of this year, according a fact sheet provided by the Mexican Tax Administration Service (SAT).
Mexico's program, the Alliance for Secure Commerce, is modeled on the World Customs Organization's framework for secure trade as well as C-TPAT and Canada's Partners in Protection trusted shipper programs, which were originally designed to prevent terrorists from using international shipping conveyances to deliver bombs or materiel for an attack.
SAT, which was created with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the private sector, is also expected to reduce smuggling of drugs through regular trade channels. U.S. authorities consider drug smuggling a threat, aside from the criminal danger, because it reveals a breakdown in security procedures that could just as easily be exploited by terrorists.
The voluntary programs offer companies fewer inspections and faster clearance if they meet minimum logistics security standards and get suppliers along their supply chains to adopt similar controls for shipments, facilities, personnel, transport providers and information technology.
SAT said it began training specialists in December to review supply chain security plans submitted by companies and conduct validation visits. Mexican authorities continue to define the legal framework of the program, and meet with agencies involved in international trade to implement the program and facilitate trade.
Mexican Customs is part of SAT.
The initial pilot program will be eligible for exporters in the electronics, aerospace and automotive industries, according to the SAT document. Several companies will be selected by a committee of program specialists and industry representatives.
Once U.S. officials determine that the Alliance for Secure Commerce follows similar procedures as C-TPAT for certifying and monitoring companies engaged in cross-border trade, they could agree to recognize the Mexican program as compatible so that companies validated in one country receive the same privileges in the other without having U.S. officials conduct on-site checks of Mexican facilities. CBP already has a mutual recognition arrangement with Canada Border Services Agency and is slowly working to accept Canadian validations of participating companies.
The SAT said it expects the Alliance for Secure Commerce to enhance the competitiveness of Mexican companies by demonstrating that they are low risk and don't require inspection holds.
The World Customs Organization is encouraging countries to base their individual authorized economic operator programs on common principles so they can extend reciprocal treatment for clearing shipments.
(To read more about U.S. and Mexican Customs cooperation and the Alliance for Secure Commerce, see 'Border Wares,' February American Shipper, page 36). ' Eric Kulisch