Terrorism poses an obvious risk to your supply chain processes. Minimizing that risk is a sign of a more secure supply chain. Working directly with counter-terrorism efforts offers a robust way for supply chain managers to create more security, and to earn more trust from their customers and stakeholders.
In the United States, working with terrorism specialists means joining the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) – a formal grading system that determines how much inspection (and thus delay) will affect your supply chain. Your participation in C-TPAT offers you the direct means to relieve and even reverse this impact, as we illustrate below in the many benefits.
C-TPAT was initiated by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in November, 2001, to join the business community in open dialog with counter-terrorism actors. Participation in C-TPAT is voluntary but it’s grown from an initial 7 partnerships to more than 10,000 today.
C-TPAT increases security measures and ensures appropriate documentation on imports, especially those from countries known to sponsor terrorism. While some have viewed it as an impediment to efficient importing, to the contrary C-TPAT can fast-track the process when security is assured.
In reality, compliance is the stumbling block for some – but meeting the regulation and oversight that makes everyone safer simply reduces cost and streamlines the supply chain.
Although C-TPAT focuses on imports, exporters may also now apply for participation within the program. Participants include many highway carriers in the US, Mexico, and Canada, rail and sea carriers, US Customs brokers, US freight consolidators, ocean transportation carriers, North American manufacturers, and long-haul carriers in Mexico.
This growing network equates to more vigilance over the state of global supply chain processes, which fosters legitimate trade opportunities between your business, your customers, and your suppliers.
It’s a network your supply chain can’t afford NOT to belong to. Let’s look at its many benefits and protections.
Benefits of C-TPAT Protection
C-TPAT offers many benefits to participating partners that enhance the integrity and fluidity of their supply chain processes.
Reduced Cargo Examination – When crossing US Borders, importers experience reduced cargo examination rates with C-TPAT partnership. Inspection is based on a 3-tier system that grades the safety and risk of allowing rapid importation.
Tier 3 partners import 9 times more frequently than Tier 1 partners without undergoing an examination, while Tier 2 partners manage 3.5 times more frequently. Obviously the incentive for compliance and best practice is great.
Free, Secure Trade Lanes With Canada and Mexico – Rather than waiting with the crush of vehicles to pass through the border, C-TPAT-certified companies can access FAST lanes for transport between North American countries without stopping at all.
C-TPAT Specialist Present in Supply Chain – This doesn’t mean CBP simply turns a blind eye to C-TPAT-certified importers. On the contrary, a C-TPAT Specialist is assigned to your unique supply chain processes. This ensures constant vigilance over your merchandise, and diminishes the chance of inspection even further.
Self-Assessment and Self-Monitoring – As a C-TPAT Partner, you can begin using self-monitoring and self-assessment techniques to inspect your own containers as part of the Self-Assessment Program. This eliminates the possibility of inspection from the pool of Focused Assessment by CBP officials.
Access to C-TPAT Public Document Library Board – The C-TPAT Public Document Library Board is an invaluable collection of best practices among C-TPAT Partners that help other partners achieve higher tier status. This includes assistance with implementation of new security standards and creation of self-assessment techniques.
Removal of Demurrage Charges For Additional Containers – If one of your shipping containers does happen to be selected for examination, as a C-TPAT Partner you can have all other containers removed while awaiting the examination. This reduces demurrage charges for leaving containers on the pier for extended periods, which results in savings for your supply chain processes.
Access to a “Green Lane” – When an importer, or someone else in the supply chain, exceeds the minimum security standards, identified by the C-TPAT, that partner receives a “pass” to avoid all examinations and the overwhelming majority of random inspections.
Furthermore, if one of these companies’ containers is selected, the container advances to the front of all other container inspections, which means the company will have the fastest production-to-delivery supply chain possible.
Joining the Fight Against Terrorism – Since your business joins the fight against terrorism by becoming a C-PAT Partner, you can enjoy the benefits of a fully integrated system of all supply chain processes, a degree of integrity, reduced manufacture-to-delivery times, reduced cargo theft, stronger brand name recognition, a safer work environment, and a positive public persona.
Achieving C-TPAT Certification
Your business signs an agreement with the CBP to protect your supply chain processes. This includes providing information about all of your supply chain practices, your current security profile, planned actions in response to a terrorist event or threat, and your company’s best practices.
Every facet of your supply chain will undergo an intensive assessment to determine if you have any potential security risks that could hinder your participation as a C-TPAT Partner.
After you achieve implementation of the relevant security measures, CBP will assign your Tier status, and you can begin taking advantage of its benefits.
C-TPAT is not an organization designed to help importers and those in the supply chain improve their processes. What it does do is guarantee faster and more predictable examinations during your shipping processes.
Refining a super-efficient supply chain is still your responsibility. C-TPAT is a crucial piece of that plan.
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