U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) with the Customs Administrations of Guatemala and Colombia at the Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit (TFCS) in Boston on Monday.
“By cooperating with our regional partners through MRAs and other bilateral arrangements, we are able to create a unified and sustainable security posture,” Pete Flores, executive assistant commissioner for the CBP Field Operations, said. “As a result, we are furthering our efforts to facilitate trade and enhance our economic security mission.”
MRAS are mutual understandings between two customs administrations and provide a platform for exchanging membership information, recognizing the compatibility of the respective supply chain security program. CBP reached this MRA after the customs administrations of Guatemala and Colombia had agreed on a Joint Work Plan (JWP) during last year’s TFCS in Anaheim, California. The plan outlines the path toward MRAs between the two customs administrations’ Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programs.
The arrangement means that the security requirements or standards of the foreign industry partnership program and its verification processes are the same or similar to those of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program.
Essentially, the concept of the MRA is that CTPAT and the foreign customs administration program have established a set of security requirements that let one business partnership program recognize the validation findings of the other program and benefits both customs administrations and the private sector participants.
CTPAT is a voluntary anti-terrorism initiative that seeks to strengthen the international supply chain and help secure the U.S. border. It offers shorter wait times at the border and fewer inspections to its members. The public-private sector partnership program acknowledges that CBP can only provide the highest level of cargo security through cooperation with the principal stakeholders of the international supply chain. This includes importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers and manufacturers.
When an entity joins CTPAT, it agrees to work with CBP to protect the supply chain, identify security gaps and implement security measures. But applicants have to address security topics and submit security profiles that list their action plans in order to support security throughout the supply chain. As of last summer, companies validated by the CTPAT now have to show proof of a social compliance program that, at minimum, addresses how they’re ensuring that goods imported into the U.S. weren’t affiliated with modern slavery in any capacity. Tier 2 and Tier 3 CTPAT applicants must present evidence of risk-based business mapping, codes of conduct, due diligence training for suppliers and remediation plans on top of the social compliance program as well.
CTPAT is committed to international cooperation to strengthen and secure global supply chains and further global standardization of AEO programs.