During the fifth session of the Joint Working Group on Advance Cargo, held in Geneva, shortly held in Switzerland, delegates representing TIACA, ICAO, the World Customs Organization WCO, FIATA and some others together with regulators from over a dozen countries stuck their heads together to shape a universal framework for a so-called Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information System – PLACI.
CargoForwarder Global questioned TIACA’s General Secretary, Doug Brittin on the outcome.
Q: Doug, did the Geneva meeting produce any practical results to enhance air freight security on a global level? If so, please specify.
A: The meeting revealed a need for exploration of new challenges in developing these systems. The group came away with over 25 issues that were agreed upon, which need further practical testing before a true framework document can be completed. Many of these include communications between carriers and forwarders, as well as forwarders and regulators. TIACA is leading a project team to establish recommended priorities
Q: As just pointed out by you, the Joint Working Group targets a unified framework for fast, efficient and smooth data transfer of shipments based on common international standards. This includes that the carriers have to submit the data before the goods are loaded on board an aircraft. Which pre-flight timeframe for transferring the documentation does the Joint Working Group recommend?
A: The industry group continues to stress that this needs to be simple “prior to loading,” with no deadline earlier in the process than that. However, the key is to allow (but not require) the submission by any forwarder or carrier as early as it is available, in case any data is immolate or needs clarification, to avoid unnecessary delays.
Q: For some carriers it might be quite challenging to transmit their shipment data electronically as required by the upcoming unified Air Cargo Advance Screening Program, be it because of a lack of technical infrastructure, repeated power cuts at some destinations they serve or other reasons. Will they be excluded from international cargo transports?
A: Ultimately, any carrier who cannot file in advance of loading will have to hold shipments. None will be exempt. However, currently only three areas (U.S., Canada and EU) are considering these programs, they will not be mandatory to states who do not wish to go through the process, since PLACI is an additional layer of security. It does not replace existing measures.
Q: Based on the Washington initiated Air Cargo Advance Screening project (ACAS) watchdogs have meanwhile looked very closely into the data of 300 million cargo shipments. An incredible number! How many of them were detected as potentially risky?
A: The good news is that in reality only a small number (low single digits), have seen any requests for clarification of data, and only 1.5 per cent have been requested to have additional screening measures applied. There have been no ‘Do Not Loads’ as a result.
Q: What’s the Joint Working Group’s further schedule and time frame to accomplish the job to present a solution that hopefully fits all parties involved?
A: We’ve agreed to set the priorities for testing by mid to late March. Ideally, most of those will get underway soon thereafter, and the group may reconvene physically toward the end of 2106.