American Shipper reported today that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials plan to meet with Chinese counterparts in Beijing sometime in December to work out details for cooperation on the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program. This information was relayed from Michael Mullen, Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs and Trade Relations.
CBP reported last month that China's Minister of Customs, Mu Xinsheng, had finally agreed to allow U.S. CBP inspectors in the country to verify security compliance of manufacturers and logistics providers whose customers participate in C-TPAT. Prior to this, CBP had authorized the use of 11 private companies in the Third Party Validation Pilot program, but interest from the trade community had been minimal due to concerns about sharing proprietary business and security data and the costs associated with the validation, which were to be incurred by the importer. China had been the only country to refuse to allow access to U.S. Customs teams seeking to validate that foreign suppliers are following the security plans submitted by their U.S. import customers and approved by CBP.
Mullen stated that the two customs administrations have exchanged letters about moving forward with joint validations in which CBP supply chain specialists would accompany Chinese officials during on-site visits of domestic companies. The two sides are still in the process of setting up a meeting at the invitation of Mu, Mullen stated.