US-Canadian program aims to improve supply chain security, expedite shipments

Aug. 1, 2002
Free and Secure Trade (FAST), a new joint program between the United States and Canada, establishes a public-private partnership to improve security measures

Free and Secure Trade (FAST), a new joint program between the United States and Canada, establishes a public-private partnership to improve security measures throughout the supply chain, according to information from Tom Ridge, US homeland security advisor, and John Manley, Canadian deputy prime minister. As a result, companies that commit to improve their supply chain security will enjoy a fast lane for commercial truck traffic.

FAST is designed from the framework of existing unilateral supply chain security programs, Canada's Customs Self Assessment and Partners in Protection (CSA/PIP), and the US Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). FAST provides a simpler clearance process for lower-risk shipments, those imported by pre-authorized importers and carried by pre-authorized drivers and carriers. Approved participants will use a dedicated fast lane designed to expedite shipment processing.

FAST should reduce the administrative burden on businesses by minimizing trade compliance verification performed at the border. This allows front-line customs officials to focus on higher-risk traffic. The program is the first step in an ongoing effort to align how the two nations process all commercial shipments, by truck, plane, train, or ship. Later this summer, the United States and Canada expect to announce a schedule for implementation at the top shared commercial border crossings.

Using the same principles of risk management, the two nations are cooperating to identify and screen high-risk cargo before it arrives in either country. Canadian customs officers are now stationed in Seattle-Tacoma WA and Newark NJ to target containers arriving in those ports ultimately destined for Canada. US customs officers are doing the same in Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver.

The US-Canadian efforts have served as a catalyst for the United States' expansion of the Container Security Initiative to Singapore, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.

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