U.S. beefs up security of air cargo imports

Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Source: American Shipper

 The United States increased security measures for air cargo being imported into the country by implementing the mandatory Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program on Tuesday.
   The ACAS program requires the inbound carrier or other eligible party to electronically transmit ACAS data to U.S. Customs and Border Protection before the cargo is loaded onto the aircraft, CBP said in an interim final rule published in the Federal Register Tuesday.
   By allowing CBP to perform targeted risk assessments on the cargo prior to the aircraft’s departure for the United States, the agency said it is able to identify and prevent high-risk cargo that could pose a risk to the aircraft and passengers during flight from being loaded.
   CBP said the new requirements will give the agency “sufficient time before the aircraft departs to analyze the data, identify if the cargo has a nexus to terrorism and, with TSA, take the necessary action to thwart a potential terrorist attack or other threat.”
    CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said, “The ACAS program is a vital component for CBP to prevent illicit contraband from entering, while expediting lawful commerce.”
   Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen signed the interim final rule on May 23, certifying ACAS as a program.
   CBP also invited feedback on the rule. That must be received by Aug. 13.
   A voluntary ACAS pilot had launched in December 2010, with pilot participants voluntarily providing CBP with data.
   CBP said the ACAS pilot was successful in enabling the agency to identify a substantial amount of high-risk cargo, but because the pilot was voluntary, it did not completely address the existing security vulnerability.
   The new regulation added a conditional data element, the master air waybill number, which was not required in the ACAS pilot. CBP said this data element will provide the location of the high-risk cargo and will allow the agency to associate the cargo with an ACAS submission.
   CBP also said it is revising the definition of one of the data elements, the consignee name and address, to provide a more accurate and complete definition, and adding a new data element requirement, the flight departure message, to enable the agency to determine the timeliness of ACAS submissions.
   “In order to provide the trade sufficient time to adjust to the new requirements and in consideration of the business process changes that may be necessary to achieve full compliance,” CBP said it “will show restraint in enforcing the data submission requirements of this rule for twelve months after the effective date.”

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