Individual countries and multi-lateral organizations have taken significant steps to up supply chain security since 2001. Mexico’s NEEC program for customs agents is among them.
As a result of the advent of an increase in the number of terrorist threats over the course of the last decade, individuals countries and global organizations have devised and implemented programs to reduce the risk that such threats will result in catastrophic events.
In terms of the US response to this set of circumstances, the country’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency formulated and implemented the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C- TPAT). C-TPAT is a voluntary program by which the CBP works with private companies to secure their supply chains from possible terrorist activities. It was launched in late 2001, after the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers. By the final month of 2014, the total number of participating companies reached almost 11,000. In terms of global actions taken against possible acts of terrorism on international trade targets, the World Customs Organization implemented the “SAFE” framework. The intent of SAFE is to serve as a deterrent to international terrorism, secure revenue collections and promote trade facilitation worldwide.
Reliable security programs are built upon well thought out and coherent standards
Mexico’s response to the threats and challenges to trade security posed by the increase of international terrorism and threats thereof is its NEEC, or Nuevo Esquema de Empresas Certificadas, program. Mexican Custom’s NEEC initiative is the country’s corollary to C-TPAT in the US, and constitutes an initiative to create tools that facilitate the safe and secure crossing of goods at the borders and promote economic and physical well-being. The NEEC program for customs agents employs eleven standards that carry with them numerous sub-standards:
1. Supply chain security planning that includes considerations related to risk analysis, security policies, contingency and emergency plans, and internal security audit mechanisms.
2. Physical security that takes into account company installations, fencing and other protective measures and security enhancing lighting.
3. Controls on physical access to premises that encompass the use of identification for parties that include employees, visitors and suppliers. Among other controls on physical access that are required by Mexico’s NEEC program for customs agents are the presence of security guard and procedures to ensure parking lot safety, as well as that for the secure delivery of parcels and packages.
4. Controls on business partners that include criteria for their selection, requirements for their security, as well as the definition of programs by which suppliers are reviewed periodically to ensure that they meet established requirements.
5. Process security that implements effective cargo tracking, process mapping, control shipment related data and documents, and the management of inventory, packaging materials and labeling.
6. Customs management that consists of office and designated department management, as well as control of areas designated for items to be shipped and/or received.
7. Freight transportation and container security that employs locked seals and regular physical inspections.
8. Personnel security under the NEEC program for customs agents that incorporates background checks, as well as defined procedures for dismissing employees.
9. Information and document security that utilizes appropriate technologies, as well as processes and procedures for both handling and classification.
10. Awareness training that includes instruction in threat assessment, detection and response.
11. Procedures for investigating and analyzing security “events” that include mechanisms by which to report suspicious activities or on premise anomalies.
Mexico’s NEEC program for customs agents and the US C-TPAT have granted one another mutual recognition. It can be anticipated that as the nature of the threat of terrorism evolves, both programs, as well as the multi-lateral World Customs Organization’s SAFE framework will adjust accordingly in an effort to keep both national and international supply chains as secure as is possible.