US-Canadian program designed to improve cross-border security
Jul 1, 2002 12:00 PM
A new joint program between the United States and Canada, Free and Secure Trade (FAST), establishes a public-private partnership to improve security measures throughout the supply chain, according to information from Tom Ridge, US homeland security advisor, and John Manley, Canadian deputy prime minister. As a result of the program, companies that make the commitment to improve their supply chain security will enjoy the benefits of a fast lane for commercial truck traffic.
FAST is designed from the framework of an existing unilateral supply chain security programs, Canada's Customs Self Assessment and Partners in Protection (CSA/PIP) and the United States Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). FAST provides a simpler clearance process for lower-risk shipments, those imported by pre-authorized importers and carried by pre-authorized drivers and carriers. Approved participants will use a dedicated fast lane designed to expedite the processing of shipments.
FAST should reduce the administrative burden on businesses by minimizing the amount of trade compliance verification that is done at the border. This allows front-line customs officials to focus on higher-risk traffic. The program is the first step in an ongoing effort to align how the two countries process all commercial shipments, by truck, plane, train, or ship. Later this summer, the US and Canada expect to announce a schedule for implementation at the top shared commercial border crossings.
Using the same principles of risk management, the two countries are cooperating to identify and screen high-risk cargo before it arrives in either country. Canadian customs officers are now stationed in Seattle-Tacoma WA and Newark NJ to target containers arriving in those ports that are ultimately destined for Canada. US customs officers are currently doing the same in Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver. This program is the first of its kind and revolutionizes the way customs administrators work together to prevent terrorists from threatening global trade.
The US-Canadian efforts have served as a catalyst for the United States' expansion of the Container Security Initiative to Singapore, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.