(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Sen. Patty Murray praised U.S. Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner for “successfully urging the Canadians” to adopt a 24-hour manifest rule similar to the regulation implemented in the U.S. after 9/11. In a letter sent yesterday, Murray noted that the action would improve security and help U.S. ports remain competitive with Canadian ports.
At a February meeting in her Capitol Hill office, Murray pressed the Commissioner to encourage his Canadian counterparts to adopt a similar rule. Murray was concerned that Canada’s lack of a similar regulation could have serious security and economic implications for the U.S.
Absent a 24-hour rule in Canada, containers could be shipped through Canadian ports and then brought across the border by rail or truck, thereby circumventing the U.S. security rules. American port operators were also concerned that shippers would divert their cargo to Canadian ports to avoid the manifest rule, which would have hurt trade-related jobs at U.S. ports.
“While the time frame in which the Canadians will adopt a 24-hour rule leaves a bit to be desired, the fact that they are adopting the rule is important,” Murray wrote to Commissioner Bonner. “The Canadian government had been reluctant to adopt the 24-hour manifest rule, but with your encouragement they have now made the commitment. This is true progress on a very difficult issue related to security and port competitiveness.”
In December, 2002, the U.S. Customs Service implemented a new rule requiring shippers of U.S. bound cargo to provide a manifest to U.S. authorities 24 hours before the ship left its foreign port.
A copy of the letter is attached:
April 23, 2003
Mr. Robert Bonner
Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Rooom 6.4-A
Washington, DC 20229
Dear Commissioner Bonner:
I appreciate you meeting with me in February regarding the 24-hour manifest rule for U.S.-bound container cargo. As you will remember, we discussed at length my concerns about the lack of a similar manifest rule at Canadian and Mexican ports, and the impact of this disparity on U.S. security and commercial interests.
I want to thank you for successfully urging the Canadians to adopt a similar rule. As I pointed out in the meeting, from a security perspective, it is important that Canada implements a 24-hour rule, considering that a significant number of ocean-going containers that enter Canada are eventually shipped to our country. And in terms of port competition, some American ports, like the Port of Seattle, were experiencing foreign shippers making a business decision that favored using Canadian ports because they lack a similar 24-hour rule, and many feared more shippers would follow. This would have serious negative consequences for trade-related jobs in the Pacific Northwest.
While the time frame in which the Canadians will adopt a 24-hour rule leaves a bit to be desired, the fact that they are adopting the rule is important. The Canadian government had been reluctant to adopt the 24-hour manifest rule, but with your encouragement they have now made the commitment. This is true progress on a very difficult issue related to security and port competitiveness.
Again, thank you for your work on the 24-hour rule. I will continue to treat seaport and container security as a high priority and look forward to working with the Department of Homeland security on these issues in the future.
United States Senator
cc: Richard F. Quinn, Acting Assistant Commissioner of Congressional Affairs