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Air Cargo Security Programme Seen as Aid for E-Commerce Extended Another Year

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has extended the Air Cargo Advance Screening pilot programme until 26 July 2018 but is still not accepting new participants. Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan has said this pilot positions CBP to better address e-commerce, which requires the agency to screen an increasing number of smaller cargo shipments and thus presents challenges associated with assessing risk, targeting and facilitating the movement of goods.

The ACAS pilot is a voluntary test used to target high-risk air cargo in which participants (including express carriers, passenger carriers, heavy all-cargo carriers and freight forwarders) submit a subset of the required advance air cargo data to CBP at the earliest point practicable prior to loading of the cargo onto the aircraft destined to or transiting through the United States. The data elements submitted as part of this pilot include air waybill number, total quantity based on the smallest external packing unit, total weight, cargo description, shipper name and address, and consignee name and address. Participants must also (i) mitigate, according to Transportation Security Administration screening protocols, any threat identified by the National Targeting Center, (ii) respond promptly with complete and accurate information when contacted by the NTC with questions regarding the data submitted, (iii) follow any “do not load” instructions, and (iv) partake in regular teleconferences or meetings established by CBP, when necessary, to ensure that any issues or challenges regarding the pilot are communicated and addressed.

CBP intends to amend its regulations to incorporate ACAS as an on-going regulatory programme. McAleenan said in December 2016 that CBP was “just about finished with the development” of a proposed rule that would soon “begin to work its way through the multi-layered approval process.” The results of the pilot will help determine aspects of this rule such as the relevant data elements and the time frame within which data must be submitted to permit CBP to effectively target, identify and mitigate any risk with the least practicable impact on trade operations.

In the meantime, CBP is continuing the pilot to provide continuity in the flow of advance air cargo security information, serve as a partial stop-gap security measure, and allow participants to adjust and test business procedures and operations in preparation for the forthcoming rulemaking.

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