Eligibility Requirements, Security Criteria for CTPAT for Exporters May be Released Soon

Excerpt from Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report | Monday, June 09, 2014

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials and industry representatives are continuing to move ahead with efforts to expand the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism into a broader authorized economic operator-type program by extending eligibility to exporters.

CBP has been working with industry members and other government stakeholders to establish the eligibility requirements and security criteria that will allow exporters to participate in CTPAT. A pre-decisional draft of these elements presented to members of the Trusted Trader Subcommittee of the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (COAC) last fall was met with more than 125 comments and recommendations. CBP incorporated nearly all of those suggestions into a final document that the subcommittee has agreed to support. CBP has also drafted an FAQ further explaining CTPAT for exporters that will be released prior to the launch of a pilot program. At its May 22 meeting, COAC adopted a recommendation that CBP release the eligibility requirements and security criteria within the next 60 days through the CTPAT Web portal, but CBP made no such commitment.

In the meantime, CBP and the trade community are continuing to evaluate the specific benefits that a CTPAT for exporters program would offer. Both sides recognize that these benefits will have to be robust to counter the expected costs to exporters of strengthening the security of their supply chains. One possibility that has been discussed is lower risk scores in countries with their own AEO programs that have concluded mutual recognition agreements with the U.S. CBP has asked the Trusted Trader Subcommittee to propose additional benefits for its consideration.

Some observers have said that the benefits of a CTPAT for exports program would mostly be realized in the country to which goods are being exported, but ST&R Senior Director for Customs and International Trade Tom Gould says there could be meaningful benefits in the U.S. as well. Gould points out that the number of CBP export exams is growing and could increase further due to ongoing developments. He explains that the recent migration of the Automated Export System to the Automated Commercial Environment and the upcoming move of the export manifest to ACE as well are expected to provide CBP inspectors with more visibility into export transactions, which in turn will most likely cause an increase in export exams. CTPAT participation could benefit exporters by not only reducing the occurrence of such exams but also offering benefits when an exam does take place, including assistance from CBP supply chain security specialists and “front of line” treatment.

COAC has recommended that the release of CTPAT for exporters include a comprehensive list of initial benefits that are measurable and quantifiable, and CBP has responded that it intends to provide such a list in the promotional flyer and FAQ that will be released prior to the launch of a pilot program. COAC also urged CBP to provide a forum for ongoing dialogue with the trade community to identify additional benefits to attract more participants, but CBP indicated that it believes existing methods of providing feedback (COAC, supply chain security specialists, formal and informal surveys) are sufficient.