Bersin says cross-border trucking will be secure
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 30, 2011 AT 2:47 P.M.
SAN DIEGO — Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin expressed strong confidence Wednesday in Mexico’s ability to develop a secure-cargo shipping program, similar to the one operated by his own agency that enables billions of dollars in cargo to move efficiently through the country’s 326 designated seaports, airports and border entry points.
Bersin was in San Diego to mark the 10th anniversary of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, most commonly known by its acronym C-TPAT. Also in town are 1,200 representatives of companies involved in global shipping for a C-TPAT seminar -- one of three cargo-security seminars that the federal agency is sponsoring this year in various parts of the country.
C-TPAT was started after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York as a way to keep the global supply chain flowing and while securing the country from an outside attack. It is a complicated dance in which global shippers share cargo data and enact security strategies as they build a level of “trust” in Customs officials.
The more trust that they build, the more efficiently their cargo flows through the ports of entry.
Contrast this with the dysfunctional relationship between Mexico and the U.S. that has seen the U.S. ban Mexico’s long-haul trucks from highways and Mexico retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods.
Bersin gave a nod to the recent agreement between President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Felipe Calderon to resume long-haul trucking across the common border, as called for in the NAFTA trade agreement.
“The president agreed there would be a program whereby in a very certified way, in a very careful and deliberate way, Mexican long-haul trucks would be able to travel with their cargo across the border and on into the states.
“It’s a big breakthrough for NAFTA, for North American competitiveness, for support of the Mexican economy and the US economy,” said Bersin.
But not one without challenges.
“We understand what Obama and Calderon have done is no longer permit Mexican and American peoples or their officials to point fingers at one and other,” said Bersin. “The issues of drugs going north and guns and cash to the south are seen as part of one continuous vicious cycle of criminality affecting both countries.
“Obviously it is important that those trucks be safe and secure from the transportation standpoint,” said Bersin, “but also secure from the standpoint of smuggling.”
Mexican truckers have been eligible to join the C-TPAT program since 2008 “and a fair number of them have,” according to Bersin. He expects C-TPAT to now play an even greater role at the U.S.-Mexican border.
“C-TPAT is an important way to approach the problem,” said Bersin. “For that reason, we are cooperating with Mexican customs to help Mexico to establish its own version of C-TPAT. Mexico’s Alliance for Secure Business is adopting many of the security strategies and principles of C-TPAT, he said.
“Downstream, I expect that we will be able to have mutual recognition — that is that a company recognized by C-TPAT will be recognized by the Mexican program and visa versa,” said Bersin.
C-TPAT started with seven companies participating. Today, there are 10,000.
“We have confidence that Mexico’s program will develop and grow,” said Bersin.
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