The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a voluntary supply chain security program, led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Its goal is to improve the security of private companies' supply chains with respect to terrorism.
The C-TPAT program recognizes that CBP can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with the owners of the international supply chain such as importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers. CBP asks businesses to ensure the integrity of their security practices, and communicate and verify the security guidelines of their business partners within the supply chain. This worldwide supply chain security initiative enables companies to ensure a more secure and expeditious supply chain for their employees, suppliers and customers.
C-TPAT participating importers tend to see a decrease in cargo exams, which in turn, decreases costs. Import shipments, subjected to U.S. Customs examinations, face increased costs in the form of U.S. port examination charges, container stripping charges, cargo transfer and storage charges, and other detention charges. Fewer exams mean fewer costs and an immediate savings on the corporate bottom line.
By joining the C-TPAT program, an importer is also eligible to join the Importers Self Assessment (ISA) program. The ISA program allows an importer to conduct an annual internal self-assessment of their own compliance profile and to determine and address risk areas and corrective action elements within their regulatory compliance profile. Members of the ISA program are removed from the Focused Assessment Audit schedule conducted by the Office of Strategic Trade and Regulatory Audit division of CBP.
The CBP provides an informational guide as a stepping-stone to build an international supply chain security risk assessment. The guide is not "all inclusive" of what should be incorporated, as the security assessment should be based on site risk ratings, supply chains, and company specific business practices.
The 5 Step Risk Assessment Process includes:
1.) Mapping Cargo Flow and Identifying Business Partners (directly or indirectly contracted). Identify ALL parties involved in the following processes:
- Document Preparation
2. Conducting a Threat Assessment focusing on: Terrorism, Contraband Smuggling, Human Smuggling, Organized Crime, and conditions in a country/region which may foster such threats and rate threat – High, Medium, Low: Identify and rate the risk of threat for the country and region for each international supply chain, using the following (at a minimum):
- Terrorism (political, bio, agro, cyber)
- Contraband Smuggling
- Human Smuggling
- Organized Crime
- Conditions fostering above threats
3. Conducting a Vulnerability Assessment in accordance with C-TPAT Minimum Security Criteria and rate vulnerability – High, Medium, Low: For all business partners in the international supply chain (directly contracted or sub-contracted):
- Identify the process they perform
- Verify partners meet applicable minimum-security criteria
- Rate their compliance within each applicable minimum-security criteria category
4. Preparing an Action Plan: Establish a corrective action plan to address gaps or vulnerabilities found in business partner’s security programs.
5. Documenting How Risk Assessments are conducted: A description of the company’s approach, policies, and procedures for conducting an international supply chain security risk assessment.
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