WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile importers and exporters have more things to add to their security check lists, and will shoulder more costs, as the federal government broadens its antiterrorism campaign in the commercial arena.

This story first appeared in the November 21, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

As it has already done for ocean cargo, the Office of Customs and Border Protection Thursday issued manifest disclosure rules for international air cargo security, as well as for trucks and trains ferrying goods between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Coupled with the existing requirement for ocean cargo contents to be disclosed in advance of embarkation, “we will be able to analyze every cargo shipment entering the U.S. before it gets here to determine whether it presents a risk…instead of showing up at our borders unannounced,” Customs commissioner Robert Bonner told reporters.

The new regulations are designed to keep things like explosive devices from being smuggled into the U.S. While the regulations go into effect in two weeks, Bonner said there will be a grace period to allow businesses to adjust.

This latest layer of antiterrorism measures comes at a time when Customs is experimenting with a new cargo container seal designed to detect tampering. Target Inc. is participating in a test of the seal. Bonner said the seal and light sensor costs about $21 and he would like to see it deployed on all U.S.-bound containers in a matter of months.

Retailers and apparel and textile importers have also been actively participating in voluntary Customs security programs, like the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism project. Under CTPAT, if companies secure their supply chains from tampering, their goods are less likely to undergo inspection upon arrival in the U.S. In addition, cargo is further expedited if it embarks from a foreign port meeting security criteria under the Customs Security Initiative.

Customs officials couldn’t enumerate how much the security programs are costing companies, although the latest regulations note that “substantial new costs” will be borne.

Frank Kelly, vice president of trade compliance and government affairs at Liz Claiborne, said it’s hard to quantify the cost of the new security regulations, which he said have actually made the company’s supply chain more efficient.

“You always have to figure on some air freight,” for last-minute orders or to hurry merchandise to the U.S. when import quotas are close to filling, said Kelly, who was attending a Customs cargo security symposium where the new regulations were announced.

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