In the midst of elevated global trade security risks and regulations, companies are positioning their supply chains to overcome these challenges and to create new opportunities in the marketplace. The success of a business’s global supply chain, however, depends on the rigor of their approach to managing and mitigating risks.

From mapping cargo flow and identifying business partners, to conducting threat and vulnerability assessments, it all boils down to having an effective and secure trade plan. Don’t know where to start? These steps are outlined in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) “5 Step Risk Assessment Process” for managing an effective C-TPAT program.

Below are the CBP’s minimum security criteria:

  • Choosing a secure business partner: All foreign manufacturers and partners must demonstrate C-TPAT security criteria via written/electronic confirmation.
  • Container and trailer security and inspection: All containers and trailers require security and inspection procedures, including ensuring proper sealing, reliability of locking mechanisms and doors; and reporting and resolving  unauthorized entry into containers/trailers or container/trailer storage areas.
  • Personnel security: Implement an employee identification system, as well as regular, detailed background checks for new and current employees.
  • Secured procedures: Make sure security measures and procedures are in place to track and manage cargo transportation, handling, and storage.
  • Documentation control: All cargo documents must be legible and accurate. Outgoing and incoming cargo must also be verified against purchase and delivery orders, and all drivers must be positively identified.
  • Facility security: All cargo and storage facilities must have physical barriers and deterrents, including fencing, gates, secured parking, alarm systems, proper light, locking systems and video surveillance.
  • Information technology security: Create and implement IT security procedures and policies, such as password protection and employee training.
  • Security training and threat awareness: Create a threat awareness program for employees so they can identify possible threats posed by terrorists and contraband smugglers.

It’s critical to re-evaluate all the necessary requirements and your plan, including the information gathered – at least every two years – in order to optimize your supply chain performance and alleviate risk.  Some companies may want to re-evaluate annually, depending on the goods, countries and commodities they are dealing with.

Not only do companies continue to face heightened global trade security challenges, they are also grappling with stricter customs audits.  This new trend may include more of a focus on small- and mid-sized companies, which means there may be more frequent targets. Proper preparation is key for these companies, including assessing your compliance risks.  

Figuring out how to best improve efficiency, performance and compliance of your global trade strategy will ultimately help improve cargo flow and even your bottom line.

To stay current on global import and export requirements, visit the CBP site.

Anand Raghavendran, COO of Netwin Solutions, has more than 15 years of experience in the supply chain industry, working with companies such as Mitsubishi, Target and Mattel. His company is online at www.gtkonnect.com.