US unprepared for mass cargo screening, warn forwarders

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Disquiet is growing in the US that a plan to screen inbound airfreight shipments may backfire.

The Airforwarders Association, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders’ Association, the Express Delivery and Logistics Association and The International Air Cargo Association have written to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to raise their concerns that the impending Air Cargo Advance Screening Program (ACAS) has not been fully tested.The Airforwarders Association’s executive director, Brandon Fried, said that ACAS has been operating as a pilot programme with a very small number of forwarding companies working out of a limited number of locations. He told ACW: “ACAS initially included a couple of the major express carriers and seven forwarders out of about 4,300 registered in the US.” He explained that the industry was particularly concerned about the agencies’ plans to promulgate rules and procedures that “have not been fully tested in the pilot, or which do not fully reflect our industry’s experience working with it.” Fried says that more table-top exercises should have been carried out, to shake out any potential problems: “We need more exercises to get a better understanding of the process, to find any holes.” His concern is how the US would cope during an enhanced threat period, without trade coming to a halt. However, there appears to be increased pressure from Congress to push ACAS through and, with the scheme now at the Proposed Rulemaking Stage, the scope for further input by  industry is limited. The letter calls for a meeting between the TSA and CPB in the near term.

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