THE International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) is calling for "further testing" and common global standards of advance data for air cargo security screening procedures to avoid disruption in the flow of world trade.
In an address to air cargo security experts, TIACA secretary-general Doug Brittin cautioned customs regulators against taking unilateral action in requiring information for all air cargo in advance of loading.
"We recommend that all regulatory parties coordinate this process through the WCO and that they consult more closely with industry before they move forward on establishing regulations," he said in a statement.
A similar process should be followed to establish common procedures for member states' security regulators to ensure common cargo screening methods are in place after the analysis process is completed, he added.
While country-specific advance data programmes have been tested by customs regulators - including ACAS in the United States, PRECISE in Europe and PACT in Canada - and some results shared through the WCO and other venues, gaps in global standards remain.
Said Mr Brittin: "The air cargo industry fully supports the concept of advance data risk analysis, stating that many positive lessons had been learned in relation to the creation of data sets, data transmission, data analysis and the message 'return' process."
He highlighted a series of challenges that must still be overcome which include the lack of compatibility between many carrier and forwarder IT systems, inaccurate or incomplete information, wide variations in the timing of data availability, and limited testing of forwarder capabilities, especially outside of the US.
Diverse regulatory needs of customs and security regulators, ranging from information acceptance, analysis and messaging to action and physical screening continues to be a big challenge to the industry, said TIACA. While compliance is the responsibility of both customs and security regulators both have different needs that often involve separate functions within industry management structures, the Association says.
Mr Brittin told the WCO conference that the air cargo industry still has a number of concerns about advance data analysis, notably systems and standards are not yet established, operational testing is not yet sufficient in terms of getting messages to the freight dock in time, and airline and forwarder responsibilities and roles are not fully defined.
"Real rule sets are not yet tested and it is essential to determine cost, effort and capability. Actual screening protocols lack common practices, even within some of the mutual recognition practices such as the US/EU, Canada, Japan and others," he said.
Further questions surround issues such as how e-AWB and e-CSD (trusted shipper) messaging procedures could link to a regulator data scheme. Will customs regimes impose penalties on advance filings and, if so, against whom?
Without common customs and security regulatory processes, cargo transiting or transferring at a gateway may be required to be located, off-loaded and screened - and the shipment may be only one piece in a ULD container.
Carriers may be required to submit the same or similar data to multiple customs regimes, based on routing. We also face a situation where different screening procedures, varying by country, will continue for targeted, higher risk shipments," he added.
He noted concern over smaller and medium sized forwarders potentially being left out in the process.
TIACA wants customs and security regulators to work collaboratively with industry to ensure data elements, analysis and messaging procedures, screening and response protocols are all standardised.
The association recommends regulators continue to utilise the current testing approach and procedures until global standards are established.
Source : HKSG.