Since the launch of the Beyond the Border Action Plan, the US and Canada have been making strides towards improving import security. One of the initiatives on which they have been working together is the import security pilot.
A recent article written by Eric Kulisch and published in the American Shipper Magazine, provides an update on the US – Canada import security pilot. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has partnered with the Canada Border Services Agency to scan cargo at the Port of Prince Rupert for US-bound ocean containers transported by intermodal rail through International Falls, Minnesota rather than when they cross the land border.
As mentioned in the article, “The program is part of the Integrated Cargo Security Strategy, an initiative within the Beyond-the-Border Action Plan launched a year ago by the two governments to align security measures on both sides of the border with the goal of reducing redundant procedures and boosting the North American economy through more efficient trade and travel flows.”
Under the US Canada Import Security Pilot, both agencies receive ocean carrier manifest information under the 24-hour rules and risk-assess the data using computerized systems. The officers at Prince Rupert, once the containers arrive, will run them through inspection machines – per the request of the US National Targeting Center. The images gathered from the inspection are uploaded to a shared system where CBP analysts can determine whether they match the description from the manifest. If the information correctly corresponds, both sides will click approval buttons and the cargo is released. The cargo that is released then gets added to a train operated by Canadian National Railway, bound for the US. Prior to the pilot, trains would take two hours or more to get released by CBP. Now, according to Michael Tamilla, Senior Manager for Customs and Transborder, “the trains in the pilot program are clearing the border in a quarter of the time of regular traffic. Now trains are being released in 30 minutes or less, if no new intelligence develops between time of departure in Prince Rupert and arrival at International Falls.”
The pilot test is said to last one year, followed by a six month evaluation period to determine if it is feasible nationwide and, if so, what adjustments are necessary.
In 2013, CBP and CBSA plan to launch similar trials for US imports moving from the Port of Montreal across the border via truck as well as northbound truck test from Newark, NJ.
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