US wants details four hours before goods land

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 November, 2003, 12:00am

Asian-based airlines flying goods to the United States must electronically submit a list of the shipments they transport to US customs at least four hours before landing, according to rules unveiled yesterday.

The regulations, initially scheduled for October 1, were greeted with resignation in Hong Kong, where airlines and their customers had asked for a shorter deadline to reduce the impact on supply chain operations.

'Four hours was what we were led to believe the deadline would be from an earlier draft we were shown, so it will come as no surprise to the industry,' said Albert Lo, chairman of the Hong Kong Board of Airlines Representatives. 'We asked for the deadline to be set at one hour prior to landing, but this is workable.'

The new regulations are seen as a compromise with the initial proposal which had been set in April by US Customs and Border Protection officials at 12 hours before departure for general cargo, and eight hours for express products.

The first regulations were roundly rejected by airlines and exporters in Hong Kong for the disruption they would cause to a trade system that shipped more than $64.9 billion in goods by air to the US in the first nine months.

More than 325,000 tonnes of air cargo left for the US in that time.

Federal Express (FedEx) said it was glad US customs had listened to concerns from the private sector and reconsidered its original proposal. Neither FedEx nor rival United Parcel Service felt they would have to adjust cargo delivery cut-off times in Asia to meet the new requirements.