The All Cargo International Security Programme (ACISP), which was unilaterally imposed by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in March, is causing confusion in the air cargo community and has increased the administrative burden for the forwarders, the Hongkong Association of Freight Forwarding & Logistics (HAFFA) has claimed.
According to HAFFA, one of the ACISP rules stipulates that any shipment over 68 kg bound for the US on board a cargo carrier must be packed in metal or break-resistant plastic. As a consequence, most of the airlines in Hong Kong are now requiring cargo agents to sign a separate security declaration form in order to fulfill the TSA requirements.
After discussing the adverse effect induced by the ACISP in Hong Kong, HAFFA discussed the issue at a recent board meeting and subsequently issued a notice to members, in which it highlighted that different airlines using different formats of the declaration form are causing confusion and increase the administrative burden within the cargo community. This in turn, it added, adversely affects the efficiency of local air freight operations.
HAFFA also pointed to the potential liability exposure if members were to sign the security declaration form, which most of the airlines have chosen to fulfill the ACISP requirement.
However, after consultation with its legal counsel, HAFFA said it had been advised that there were potential serious legal consequences towards the US authorities if forwarders signed the declaration form.
HAFFA said that the TSA requires the carriers to carry out additional screening of cargo shipments in certain HAFFA urges common stand on confusing ACISP rules configurations (cartons exceeding 68 kg with no metal banded or break-resistant plastic banded), although TSA does not prohibit the carriers from accepting cargo in any particular configuration. It is clear that such decision is entirely at the discretion of the carrier.
Limitations and procedures (for example by means of declaration) of the type of cargo a carrier will accept, are set by the carrier itself, not by TSA. Because the TSA requirements are unclear and create the risk of a liability exposure, HAFFA noted that members may encounter great difficulties in signing the declaration as well as obtaining the respective information from the shippers, as they might refuse to provide or sign the relevant document.
Because of the secrecy of the TSA Regulations applicable to the respective parties involved in the transport chain (carriers and freight forwarders), HAFFA noted it lacked a clear understanding of the TSA requirements applicable to carriers.
It said it had learnt from members that some forwarders’ overseas stations including Bangkok, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Frankfurt and Switzerland have received similar requests (i.e. to sign the security declaration form) from carriers, but all of them were rejected by the forwarders without any consequences through the carriers.
In view of the lack of reliable information and a common position on the new rules, HAFFA has requested other FAPAA organisations for feedback in establishing a common position regarding the ACISP.