The Role of Customs Border Protection in Securing Trade in Maritime Ports.

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Established in the year 2003 under the Department of Homeland Security, Customs Border Protection is the agency responsible for facilitating international trade and immigration around the United States borders. With regards to trade in maritime ports, it is the agency tasked with the overseeing, controlling and ensuring the smooth movement of goods through the United States Ports of Entry. A large percentage of U.S imports rely on the effective flow of cargo around its ports of entry. Customs Border Protection is tasked with ensuring the smooth movement of these cargos (Seghetti, 2015).

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The agency is responsible for imposing security laws formulated to prevent smuggling of weapons of mass destruction, contraband goods, and illegal drugs among others from entering the United States through its ports. The security laws include The Security and Accountability for Every Port Act (2006), the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 among others. The agency is also responsible for preventing money laundering goods from entering the country. It achieves this by enforcing and monitoring shipment, loading and off - loading procedures of cargo in and out of the ports. This ensures no illegal goods enter or leaves the country.

The agency is also mandated with enforcing customs and trade laws formulated to protect the United States consumers and investors. Trade and customs laws include imposing of tariffs and levies on the importation of goods through the ports of entry. Similarly, the agency is responsible for imposing penalties for importers and who fail to comply with the laid down customs and trade laws. On customs revenue from imported cargo and individuals, the agency is responsible for the collection of those mentioned above at every port of entry. These roles have helped secure international trade between the United States and the foreign country it does business with (Seghetti, 2015).

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 developed frameworks for incorporation of all or part of the federal departments into the Department of Homeland Security. The United States Customs Service functions were transferred to the Customs Border Protection. The roles include customs inspection and enforcing the U.C.S.S powers (Seghetti, 2015).

Global Transportation Systems.

Global Transportation Systems are a set of interconnected networks cutting across all modes of transports globally. The systems mentioned above are also interdependent across all the forms of transportation. Henceforth, a disruption in one of the modes of transports cripples virtually the whole system. The September 11 attacks are a perfect case study. The shutting down of the US airspace for 72 hours disrupted operations and business in many parts of the world. Traffic snarl-ups, delayed flights, overcrowded rail, closed waters graced the occasion. That meant the Global Transportation Systems had been disrupted (J.Caverly, 2007).

Global Transportation Systems are made up of a set of components. The components include air, water, rail and land transport systems. These systems are further sub-divided into smaller categories. Air includes aviation. Land systems include mass transit, highways, and pipeline. Water systems include maritime. Finally, rail systems constitute freight rails, and railway lines include mass transit, maritime, aviation, highways, freight rail, and pipeline. Mass transit includes vehicles that accommodate a large number of people. For example, transit buses, vanpools, monorails, ferryboats, passenger rail among others. These are vehicles designed to transport passengers on territorial and local routes. Maritime includes a uncountable number of water vessels, hundreds of thousands of ports, tens of millions miles of coastline, thousands of miles of navigable waters, more than hundreds of limited Economic area through various countries which allows the movement of goods and people through water. Aviation constitutes aircraft monitoring systems, airplanes, airports and public airfields. Pipeline involves a broad pipeline network that travels across through many countries. The pipeline is used for transportation of natural gasses, oil among others. Freight rail consists of railroads, locomotives, freight cars, and routes. Finally, highways include roadways and reinforcing infrastructure. Automobiles in highways include motorcycles, trucks, recreational vehicles, trailers and buses (J.Caverly, 2007).

Global Transport Systems have for a long time been used by terrorists to conduct terror attacks. Apart from the air system being the most vulnerable to terror threats, other transport systems have also fallen victim of the same. Maritime vessels are constantly under terror threats from pirates. Similarly, terrorists strike in land and rail transport systems as well.

Strategies of the Maritime Transportation Security Act 2002.

In response to the September 11 attacks, the United States government came up with the Maritime Transportation Act of 2002. Due to a breach of security by terrorists, the Act was formulated to protect the marine vessels in US waters from terrorist attacks. The Act was passed in the House, Senate and finally assented by President George Bush Jr. The Act is based on various strategies to avert future terror attacks on marine vessels

The strategies include section 70102 requirement of Secretary of Department under which the Coast Guard operates to conduct an assessment of marine vessels and facilities on or adjacent to the United States waters. The assessments aim is to identify and determine marine vessels and facilities that may pose greater risks with regards to a breach of security. The Act requires all Secretary of Departments to take responsibility The Coast Guard is tasked with providing assessment reports to accessed marine vessels. The reports are renewable are renewable after five years for accessed marine vessels.

Another strategy the Act adopts setting aside of funds for developing effective and efficient technologies to ensure the safety of the ports. These include developing complex software that can detect bombs, explosives, radio-active chemicals, etc.

Similarly, the Act recommends for foreign port assessment. Foreign port assessment requires the Secretary of Department to evaluate the efficiency of antiterrorism measures from foreign ports. The foreign ports are the overseas ports of which the US conducts business with. Achieving the aforementioned entails conducting background checks on ships bound to the US from these foreign countries. Furthermore, he is tasked with ensuring that the foreign ports embrace antiterrorism measures. Additionally, the Secretary is tasked with ensuring cargos and containers are thoroughly screened before they are loaded onto ships bound for the US (L.Caldwell, 2012).

According to the US Coast Guard, cargos and containers and the physical layout of ports are the most vulnerable facilities with regards to security breach. Securing, tracking and monitoring cargo is a very complex task. Hence, terrorist can bank on this lapse in cargo vulnerability to smuggle weapons of mass destruction, etc. On the other hand, physical layout of ports may hinder proper surveillance of all the activities within the ports. This gives room for terrorists to conduct their activities around the port without detection.

Programs and Legislative Acts geared towards enhancing Port and Homeland Security

Apart from Maritime Transportation Security Act 2002, many legislative acts have been created to ensure ports are protected from terrorist attacks. These Acts main focus center around safeguarding the US ports and its marine vessels from terror attacks. Most of these Acts were created in response to the September 11 attacks.

The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act (2004) is an amendment of sections of the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002. This Act included security provisions to the Import process requirements. It amended tracking systems provisions for a certain category of vessels. This Act required the Department of Homeland Security to submit procedures for execution of the Maritime Intelligence Systems. In addition to that, the Department of Homeland Security was tasked with reporting security issues involving cargo imports. The Act also recommended the installation of radiation detectors across all the major US ports (Seghetti, 2015).

The Security and Accountability For Every Port (SAFE) Act passed by Congress in response to the report produced by the 9/11 Commission accusing the US government of lacking a solid strategic plan with regards to fighting terror. This Act included imposing a 1st April deadline for DHS to enact a long range tracking systems for vessels.

Finally, the US government applied the recommendations of Section 1701 of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007. The recommendations included scanning by NII all maritime containers shipped into the United States by July 1st, 2012. This was regardless of whether they were identified as high risk or not during the regular ATS scanning (Seghetti, 2015).

The above Acts have come a long way in securing the United States ports. Instances of terror attacks in ports have dropped significantly after the September 11 attacks.


BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 L.Caldwell, S. (2012). Problems and Challenges 10 years after the Maritime Transportation Security Act.

Seghetti, V. C. (2015). U.S Customs and Border Protection;Trade Facilitation, Enforcement and Security.

(2002). Summary Maritime and Transportation Security Act.

J.Caverly, J. P. (2007). Transportation Systems.

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