NCBFAA TAKES CASE AGAINST ADVANCE MANIFEST RULING TO CONGRESS
Representatives from the largest group of U.S. ocean transportation intermediaries met with key Congressional leaders Tuesday to explain their disapproval of U.S. Customs’ proposed manifest rules.
In comments to Customs this month, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America said the proposed rule is unworkable and unenforceable, and would only serve to interdict the smooth flow of legitimate commerce.
In August, Customs proposed a ruling requiring carriers and non-vessel-operating common carriers to transmit cargo manifests 24 hours prior to loading. Customs said it needs the information to ensure that terrorists will not smuggle weapons of mass destruction or related materials within cargo containers bound for America.
NCBFAA added that, while it disagreed with the proposed rule, it would participate with Customs to find other workable measures. One of the main issues NCBFAA members have with the use of manifests is that they believe competitors, or even terrorists, could get access to such private information.
“We agree with the principle of what they are trying to accomplish, but they are using the wrong mechanism,' said Federico Zuniga, president of NCBFAA.
Zuniga and NCBFAA committee leaders gave more than 30 lawmakers a white paper with security measures they thought offered more logical steps to security that would not require the use of manifests.
Some of the measures offered in the paper called on tighter employee screening and background checks than are already in place, in addition to the establishment of a multistage and real-time Web tracking system allowing all legitimate parties to track shipments en route. NCBFAA’s paper called on increases of random inspections of parties in the supply chain by Customs. NCBFAA added that Customs should also work with trade in defining and compiling and defining profile data on “known” shippers, truckers, carriers, warehouses and importers.
The paper also suggested that Customs and trade should design a “chain of custody dataset,” where producers, manufacturers and fabricators would start data collection identifying their cargo security qualification, inputs or end products, in addition to hazardous materials classification. “This will provide the deep penetration into supply chain risk evaluation that is necessary to detect security risks from the remotest source to the final receiver,” NCBFAA said.
Kenneth Bargteil, vice president of Kuehne & Nagel and NCBFAA Customs Committee Chairman, said NCBFAA was not assuming an adversarial role against Customs on this issue. He met with a customs official in May to discuss some of NCBFAA’s security solutions which eventually made their way to the white paper. “We are willing and ready to work with them on a solution,” he said.