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U.S. industry call to repeal screening mandate

WASHINGTON, DC: American manufacturers, wholesalers, Customs brokers and logistics providers have endorsed a two-year extension to the deadline mandating 100 percent screening of U.S. imports by ocean container.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) head Jeh Johnson, over 100 organisations and associations representing a large cross-section of U.S. trade and industry, say the U.S. Congress needs to repeal the mandate and focus on practical supply chain security solutions.

US CBPDeclaring the law calling for 100 percent container scanning has always been impractical and does not improve security, the group says if enacted it would not only have a "significant" negative impact on global commerce but cause considerable conflict with foreign governments.

The group says U.S. Customs and Border Protection (right), has developed an effective risk-based strategy to screen all containerized cargo and unlike the 100 percent mandate, does not impair the efficiency of the global supply chain. "This strategy is fully embraced by industry as well as our foreign trading partners and has proven to be highly effective," it adds.

The letter to Johnson also re-states questions that Congress refused to address when passing the original law.

They are: "The statute does not define what 'scanned' means and without such analysis, the 'scan' would be pointless. What are the standards for the applicable scanning technology? Who is to pay for the capital cost of the scanning equipment? Who is to operate, maintain and monitor the equipment? Who is to pay for the operation and maintenance of the equipment? What protocols are to be used in the foreign ports when a container is scanned? What is the role of the Customs and other relevant governmental authorities in all those nations around the world that ship goods to the United States? Does DHS have the consent of these foreign governments to such a mandatory regime? And what would the United States' response be if and when foreign governments insist on a reciprocal or 'mirror image' requirement that all U.S. containerized exports be scanned?"

The group says Congress passed a statute that it knew was wholly impractical and that Johnson's waiver is the only action to take without threatening the U.S. and global economy.

"However, instead of going through this exercise every two years, we urge you and the Administration to recommend to the Congress that the statutory 100 percent container scanning requirement be repealed. That would be the most appropriate way to address this flawed provision and allow the Department, industry and our trading partners to focus on real solutions to address any security gaps that remain in the global supply chain," the group concludes.

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