(WASHINGTON) - A coalition of associations representing air freight forwarding companies is calling on the federal government to solicit input from small and medium sized forwarders before expanding the Air Cargo Advanced Screening (ACAS) program.
The program, which analyzes advance data on inbound air shipments to the U.S. to assess risk, is currently in pilot phase, but U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has signaled that they intend to expand it to apply to all inbound air cargo via a rulemaking.
The Airforwarders Association (AfA), the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA), The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) and the Express Delivery and Logistics Association (XLA) have jointly sent letters to CBP and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) noting their support of the concept of the ACAS program's risk-based analysis at the shipment level, but saying "we are concerned about certain issues which we feel have not yet been fully resolved within the ACAS pilot." In addition to detailing issues regarding potential negative impacts on small and medium sized air forwarding businesses, the letters included requests to meet with both agencies and representatives from air carriers in June to discuss the concerns and try to resolve them.
The four associations, representing companies that do not own planes but instead arrange for the shipment of goods by air, are concerned that the ACAS pilot program has involved only a handful of forwarders, mostly larger operations that already have integrated supply chains and an overseas infrastructure. Their letters emphasized that the pilot has not included smaller forwarding companies "that rely on an extensive network of independent agents at overseas airports" and for whom "the size and scope of their technology infrastructure ... varies widely." Accordingly, the groups called for more work to be done to determine how the ACAS program will be applied to small and medium sized forwarders before they are brought under its requirements.
In addition, "any ACAS rule should maintain the level playing field for all filers. No requirement should create an unfair competitive business advantage for one filer over another," the letters said.
The groups pointed to other issues of concern, including that ACAS may not take into account variances among U.S. trading partners in the applicability and procedures of their own screening programs, most notably that not all countries of origination allow forwarders to screen cargo. On this issue, the letter said that it is important for ACAS "to clarify what the process and verification procedures will be when an ACAS dual-filing is made at a foreign location, first by the forwarder and then by the carrier."
Another key area of concern, pertinent to both TSA and CBP, has to do with the "targeting rule sets" for determining when additional high risk screening will be performed. Specifically, the letter requests that ACAS utilize only those risk analysis formulas that have been tested in the pilot.
The TSA letter further outlines concerns about operational procedures for forwarders' screening of targeted shipments into the U.S., which have also not yet been fully tested. It also raises questions about the potential impact for screening of U.S. export shipments when other countries' advance data programs take effect.
About the Airforwarders Association
The Airforwarders Association (AfA) represents more than 350 member companies dedicated to moving cargo throughout the supply chain. The association's members range from small businesses with fewer than 20 employees to large companies employing more than 1,000 people and business models varying from domestic to worldwide freight forwarding operations. In short, they are the travel agents for freight shipments, moving cargo in the timeliest and most cost efficient manner whether it is carried on aircraft, truck, rail or ship. For more information, visit the association's website at www.airforwarders.org
About the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents more than 970 member companies with 110,000 employees in international trade - the nation's leading freight forwarders, customs brokers, ocean transportation intermediaries (OTIs), NVOCCs and air cargo agents, serving more than 250,000 importers and exporters. Established in 1897 in New York, NCBFAA is the effective national voice of the industry. Through its various committees, counsel and representatives, the Association maintains a close watch over legislative and regulatory issues that affect its members. It keeps them informed of these and other related issues through its weekly Monday Morning eBriefing, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.
About The International Air Cargo Association
TIACA is a global not-for-profit trade association representing all the major segments of the air cargo and air logistics industry - combination and all-cargo airlines, forwarders, airports, ground handlers, road carriers, customs brokers, logistics companies, shippers, IT companies, aircraft and equipment manufacturers, trade press, and educational institutions. TIACA's objectives include: facilitating and monitoring the implementation of e-commerce in the air cargo supply chain; supporting security measures that are effective, workable, and affordable; developing and promoting strategies and principles in environmental policies; reforming and modernizing customs practices and raising industry performance standards; increasing market access by the elimination of constraints depending on bilateral traffic rights agreements; representing the interests of the air cargo industry before relevant regulatory bodies. TIACA is hosting its 2014 Air Cargo Forum in Seoul, Korea, on October 7-9, with the theme "Breaking Barriers, Creating Opportunities." For more information, please visit www.tiaca.org
About the Express Delivery and Logistics Association
The Express Delivery and Logistics Association (XLA) is the leading trade group for companies in the express air cargo industry. Our members operate globally and offer premium expedited service for high value shipments. XLA members include express cargo leaders as well as many mid- size and smaller companies. The XLA works closely with commercial airlines which our members utilize daily to send their shipments around the world. We play an important role in our nation's supply chain. XLA members ensure that critical shipments - such as life sciences, pharmaceuticals and urgently needed spare parts - arrive at their destinations safely and quickly. The Association's main value point is its strong Washington advocacy on behalf of a highly regulated industry.