Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism
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The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a voluntary supply chain security program led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and focused on improving the security of private companies' supply chains with respect to terrorism. The program was launched in November 2001 with seven initial participants, all large U.S. companies.
Companies who achieve C-TPAT certification must have a documented process for determining and alleviating risks throughout their international supply chain. This allows companies to be considered low risk, resulting in expedited processing of their cargo, including fewer Customs examinations.
Types of participants in C-TPAT
- U.S. importers of record
- U.S./Canada and U.S./Mexico highway carriers
- Rail, sea, and air carriers
- U.S. marine port authority and terminal operators
- U.S. air freight consolidators, ocean transportation intermediaries and non-vessel operating common carriers
- Mexican manufacturers
- Certain invited foreign manufacturers
- Licensed U.S. customs brokers
- Third Party Logistics Providers
C-TPAT Partner Benefits
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the benefits of participating in C-TPAT could include:
- Playing an active role in the war against terrorism
- A reduced number of CBP inspections.
- Priority processing for CBP inspections.
- Eligibility to attend C-TPAT training seminars.
Using the right technology, the processes of supplier data collection, organization, and risk analysis can be done easily - without requiring large investments into IT infrastructure or resources. After all, the main goal of the C-TPAT program is not to add more work for the importer, but to help increase the security of all global supply chains that bring products into the US.
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Patty Murray have introduced a bill in Congress, the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act, which would enhance these potential benefits for companies at the highest level of security within C-TPAT.
C-TPAT Mutual Recognition
Mutual Recognition (MR) refers to those activities relates with the signing of a document between foreign Customs Administration that allows an exchange of information aiming to improve supply chain security. The signed document, or MR, indicates that security requirements or standards of the foreign partnership program, as well as its validation procedures are similar. The essential concept of a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) is that C-TPAT and the foreign program are compatible in both theory and practice so that one program will recognize the validation findings of the other program. 
The following programs have Mutual Recognition with C-TPAT:
- New Zealand Customs Service - Secure Export Scheme Program (SES) – June 2007
- Canada Border Services Agency - Partners in Protection Program (PIP) – June 2008
- Jordan Customs Department - Golden List Program (GLP) – June 2007
- Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau - Authorised Economic Operator Program (AEO) –June 2009
- Korean Customs Service – Authorized Econonic Operator Program (AEO) – June 2010
- European Union – Authorized Economic Operator Program (AEO) – May 2012
- Taiwan – General of Customs, Taiwan Ministry of Finance’s – Authorized Economic Operator Program.* – November 2012
- Note: This MRA is signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States. C-TPAT and Taiwan AEO are the designated parties responsible for implementing the MRA.
Through this initiative, US Customs is asking businesses to ensure the integrity of their security practices and communicate and verify the security guidelines of their business partners within the supply chain.
Trusted Trader Program
When customs administrations offer tangible benefits to businesses that meet minimum security standards and follow best practices, those businesses are known as “trusted traders.” This concept is internationally accepted and is entrenched in protocols like the World Customs Organization SAFE Framework.
In North America, both the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offer “trusted trader” programs, CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and the CBSA’s Partners In Protection (PIP) programs as well as the bi-national Free And Secure Trade (FAST) program.
In the US, Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and the trade have been collaborating for some time to create a design for a holistic, integrated Trusted Trader Program. This approach will enable CBP to provide additional incentives to participating low risk partners, while benefiting from additional efficiencies of managing both supply chain (C-TPAT) and compliance (ISA) in one partnership program.
- "Mutual Recognition". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Retrieved 2013-10-18.