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US tightens cargo rules

Calcutta’s trading community on Tuesday got a taste of what it means to conduct business with post-September 11 United States.

James L. Dozier, US Customs attaché, met members of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), giving them details of the “advance filing of import cargo declaration” system, enforced from February this year. The “24-hour vessel manifest rule” forms the key part of the system and entails the exporter to inform (preferably electronically) the US Customs of details of what his/her cargo contains at least 24 hours before it is scheduled to arrive at a US port.

The US seaports handle over 200 million cargo containers a year. “The threats to national security, after the twin strikes on September 11, 2001, has forced us to take these issues very seriously,” Dozier explained. The new rules came into effect from December 2 last year but there was a 60-day waiver for exporters to get used to the new regime. Cargo that is not preceded by the declaration 24 hours before it lands, can have penalties levied on it or may not be granted permission to be unloaded, the new set of rules decree.

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