Small firms fail to see benefits of joining C-TPAT
Many small and medium-size importers fail to see the value of joining the U.S. government's Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program.
According to a recent survey by Trade Bridge International, an industry association for small to medium-size companies, about 55 percent of firms with less than 500 employees could not determine the benefits of participating in C-TPAT.
Trade Bridge sent its 10-question survey to about 8,000 individual e-mails and received back more than 100 responses for a 'snapshot' of how SMEs feel about C-TPAT, said the organization's secretary general Leslie L. August to attendees of a World Customs Organization meeting in Brussels Tuesday.
The survey also found that 37 percent of companies cited either lack of time or money, or both, to devote to applying for C-TPAT status. More than 50 percent of those firms surveyed said they were either never invited by CBP or their customs brokers to become C-TPAT participants.
CBP has published a C-TPAT cost-benefit analysis on its Web site, but the Trade Bridge survey found that more than 80 percent of SMEs have not read it.
August said that to increase small importer participation in C-TPAT, CBP and the brokers must do a better job with communication and outreach about the program.
Mike Laden, president of customs and trade consultancy of the Trusted Trade Alliance, said a setback for C-TPAT, which now includes an enrollment of more than 7,800 importers, carriers, terminal operators, customs brokers and freight forwarder/consolidators, has been CBP's failure to establish a 'bright line' between the C-TPAT members and those who do not participate. Laden said that his firm's research found no appreciable increase in cargo inspections for non-C-TPAT members versus those firms in the program.
'There should be a 50 percent increase in the exam rate' for non-C-TPAT firms, he said. CBP should take a 'harder line' with the program to separate the 'known from the unknown' in the supply chain, Laden added. ' Chris Gillis