NCBFAA Has Concerns With Air, Ocean Provisions of Recent House Legislation
Phone: (202) 223-6222
Phone: (847) 678-5400
Billy App, Jr.
Phone: (504) 464-0181
|For Immediate Release
Washington, DC: The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America, Inc. (NCBFAA) has announced its opposition to the air and ocean provisions of recently passed House legislation implementing some Homeland security measures. Although touted as completing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, the Commission never recommended enactment of the provisions that the NCBFAA opposes.
Specifically, the NCBFAA objects to the:
- Requirement for 100% "inspection" of all cargo placed on board passenger aircraft to be accomplished over three years with 35% in 2007, 65% in 2008 and 100% in 2009. The standard for that inspection is to "provide a level of security equivalent to the level of security for the inspection of passenger checked baggage."
- Requirement that a container can only enter the U.S. if it is "scanned" using "best available technology," with the provision implemented following conclusion of the pilot Secure Freight Initiative.
The Association’s primary concern with the 100% inspection requirement is that such an approach will diminish the effectiveness of resources by spreading them too thin while simultaneously significantly slowing the flow of commerce thus increasing the cost of goods and services. If legitimate air cargo cannot flow expeditiously, then the public will believe that there is little reason to use this mode of transportation for just-in-time delivery. A much better solution is to require that air cargo inspections be risk-based to focus resources on areas where there is some likelihood of uncovering terrorist activity.
The effect of this legislation on the Secure Freight Initiative also troubles the NCBFAA. Moving the initiative immediately from being a pilot into implementation ignores the wisdom of the bi-partisan SAFE Ports Act: the purpose of a pilot is to measure a program’s effectiveness - H.R.1 does not permit the government to correct deficiencies in any substantial way should the pilot prove unworkable.
Efforts to mitigate these measures are underway and the NCBFAA, in concert with other organizations, has begun working to persuade the Senate that these provisions in the House bill are misguided and counter-productive. The Senate recently held hearings and is expected to construct its version of security legislation later this month.
In an earlier attempt to influence House deliberation on this bill, NCBFAA, together with 12 other national organizations, signed an affirmative statement to the House leadership that outlines positive steps that can be achieved in improving homeland security. The letter, with which the NCBFAA agrees, is posted on the NCBFAA’s website, www.ncbfaa.org/hillletter.pdf, and supports implementation of a multi-layered, risk-based, comprehensive system of screening cargo transported on passenger aircraft. NCBFAA is prepared to do its part in enhancing supply chain strengths, through more emphasis on existing shipper and freight forwarder security processes.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, the NCBFAA represents nearly 800 member companies with 100,000 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, NCBFAA Quarterly Bulletin, and various meetings and conferences throughout the year.