The immense movement of goods has outpaced the traditional methods of enforcement and governments are now partnering with businesses to improve supply chain security.

The business of protecting goods in transit has grown from the traditional threats – cargo theft, facility break-ins, and hijacking – to include the 21st century’s latest threat – terrorism. Smuggling has been around since the first borders were drawn on a map, so why is this considered a new threat? The answer lies in the growth of the global supply chain, and the diversity of points of origin.

Convergence of Supply Chains Security Programs

Not only could the global supply chain be used to facilitate a terrorist act, the supply chain itself could be considered a secondary target of such an attack. The global economy is reliant on the efficient and fast movement of goods. If this system is disrupted by the closing of borders, ports or modes of transportation, the economic impact would be substantial.

The immense movement of goods has outpaced the traditional methods of enforcement and governments are now partnering with businesses to improve supply chain security.

Refer to the various customs security programs discussed later in this issue. These distinct programs share many of the same basic security concepts, and in truth, a single customs security program within your organization can be created to cover each program.

The essence of these programs is to create an environment where supply chain partners – importers; foreign manufacturers; consolidators; brokers; ocean, sea and rail carriers; and 3PLs – can work towards a common goal of improving supply chain security, using a common set of standards.

The programs are facilitated by governments that play a vital role by developing standards, administering the programs, auditing compliance and providing training. The standards themselves are performance based which supports a company’s need to find effective compliance solutions in varying conditions – a concept that could not be achieved with a regulatory approach.

Moving Forward

For those that are considering joining these programs, I would encourage you to look beyond the cost of compliance. Instead, consider the benefits created by working closely with your supply chain partners, and the improved understanding of your flow of goods from raw materials to finished products. Even though the objectives of these programs are focused on reducing the threat of terrorism, the increased focus on supply chain security inherently reduces the risk of theft and improves the flow of goods.

If you’re wondering where to start, begin by learning as much as you can about the customs security programs online. Attend a class and talk to other security professionals who have been through the process. Understand as much as you can about your supply chain from raw goods to finished products. Conduct an assessment of your supply chain security and create an action plan to address gaps. Develop documented processes for your operations and security standards for your supply chain vendors. Finally, communicate with your business partners, senior executives, line managers and employees so that everyone understands the importance of supply chain security.

This is a fantastic opportunity for security professionals to demonstrate the value they bring to their organizations.

SIDEBAR: Acronyms You Need to Know

  • C-TPAT: Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism – Joint government / private entity program aimed at improving supply chain security for goods entering the U.S.
  • PIP: Partners In Protection – a Canada program that enlists the cooperation of private industry to enhance border and trade chain security.
  • FAST: Free and Secure Trade – A joint U.S. / Canadian program that provides expedited border crossings for C-TPAT and PIP participating supply chains.
  • AEO: Authorized Economic Operator – A European standard for companies involved in the international movement of goods. AEO status is granted to companies that have been approved by a national Customs administration as complying with World Customs Organization supply chain security standards.