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U.S. Customs proposes cargo-data regulations to beef up border security


U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently proposed new regulations designed to improve the security of cargo entering and exiting the United States.

The agency currently requires information on incoming cargo after shipments arrive, but many shippers already have been providing information in advance.

The new regulations would make it mandatory that shippers provide information on cargo arriving by rail, air, truck and sea in advance, and file the data electronically to enable U.S. Customs to assess risk. The agency plans to run cargo data through an automated targeting system linked to various law-enforcement databases to identify shipments that might pose a potential terrorist risk.

Imported rail shipments entering the United States would have to be electronically filed two hours in advance; exported rail shipments, four hours in advance.

"Advance cargo information is essential to not only preventing instruments of terrorism from being shipped into this country, but also to speed the flow of legitimate cargo across our borders," said Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge in a prepared statement.

The agency is accepting comments on the proposed regulations for 30 days. On Sept. 15, U.S. Customs expects to issue a final rule, which would take effect 15 days later.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/28/2003