DHS Customs and Border Protection plans to issue a new rule requiring U.S. importers and manufacturers to provide new data about U.S.-bound shipments. The data sharing procedure is designed to improve port security and prevent terrorist use of shipments and containers headed U.S. The proposed rule is part of the SAFE Port Act of 2006, in which CBP began requiring 12 new categories of data on shipments to the U.S. to be provided at least 24 hours before loading in foreign ports.
The Hill reports today that business groups oppose the rule, warning that it would “disrupt supply chains without improving security at a time when the U.S. economy is in the doldrums.” The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is been leading the effort to oppose, or at least modify, the proposed rule. NAM is joined by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the European-American Business Council, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Consumer Electronics Association.
DHS suggests the new rule could at first delay shipments by as much as 24 hours, and will eventually drop to 12 hours. Businesses, however, suggest that security would be actually reduced because cargo would sit unguarded while it awaited permission to be loaded and that today’s already fragile global economy can’t handle further strains like those they believe the new rule would impose. The new rule would prohibit a shipment from leaving its foreign port until DHS has the required data for each container. NAM argues that other hidden costs of compliance, longer delays in the supply chain, software needs, and added personnel for the new requirements would cost U.S. businesses about $20 billion a year.
These firms also argue it is more realistic to expect a two-to-five-day delay, depending on the complexity of the supply chain. As a compromise, opponents in the private sector are calling for a pilot program to be set up to test the new rule on a small scale first before full deployment.
While OMB and DHS are inundated with complaints from constituents in the manufacturing districts of Michigan and hard-hitting lobbying efforts by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a CBP spokeswoman told The Hill that OMB “is currently leading an interagency review of the rule, but would not comment on … why the agency wants to proceed without a pilot program.”