Border deal to speed commerce, thwart terrorism

| 4/17/2002

More than 50 corporations have agreed to improve security measures on goods coming into the United States in return for faster processing through border checkpoints. Administration officials unveiled the plan April 16 near the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit, the busiest border crossing in North America.

To date, 60 companies participate and another 100 applications are pending.The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, or C-TPAT program, is a joint government/business initiative. Seven companies helped design the program including BP America, Daimler Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corp., Motorola Inc., Sara Lee Corp., and Target.

"The message should be clear - if a business takes steps to secure its cargo against terrorism, we will give it the 'fast lane' through the border," said U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Robert C. Bonner.

The idea is for customs inspectors to give trucks, trains, planes and ships carrying low-risk cargo a fast pass through the customs inspection process. Trucks with transponders or bar codes would be waved through checkpoints in less than a minute. Where possible, there would be a separate commercial lane.In return, participating companies agree to assess security at places where goods originate. The companies must also conduct security assessments on the carriers transporting the items and the people doing the work. In addition, cargo must be sealed when it's loaded, and participants agree to alert the Customs Service whenever security is breached.

Businesses must apply to participate in C-TPAT. Membership is available to importers, carriers, brokers, warehouse operators and manufacturers.