US Issues Report on Import Safety

On September 10, the US government’s Interagency Working Group on Import Safety issued its first report on import safety. The Group, which includes personnel from 12 federal departments and agencies, was created in July by the Bush Administration following the discovery of tainted imported pet food (see IBO 5/31/07). The report recommends a strategic framework utilizing a risk-based approach in order to provide a more comprehensive system involving the government, importers and goods producers. According to the report, from fiscal years 2000 to 2006, the value of US imports rose 67% to $1.95 trillion and the number of shipments grew 33% to 31.3 million. In 2006, the top five importing countries were Canada, China, Mexico, Japan and Germany, which together accounted for more than half of all imports. The report identifies five deficiencies in the current safety system: lack of coordination of import security and safety measures; insufficient government authority to punish unsafe importer and improve safety measures; incomplete product and safety information provided as part of advanced cargo information; and “siloed systems” that separate federal and state agencies’ automated safety systems. The report lays out an Import Safety Strategic Framework, which emphasizes, among other factors, prevention, enforcement, import life cycle, interoperatiblity and collaboration. In addition, the report recommends the use of technology to screen imports, as well as more certification and testing as preventative measures. In November, the Group will present its Action Plan, which is expected to include specific recommendations.

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