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Highlights

Oceangoing cargo containers play a vital role in global trade but can also pose a risk of terrorist exploitation. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), oversees security of the supply chain--the flow of goods from manufacturer to retailer. CBP anticipates that adoption of uniform, international customs security standards could eventually lead to a system of mutual recognition whereby the customs security-related practices and programs taken by one customs administration are recognized and accepted by another administration. In response to congressional requesters, GAO determined (1) actions CBP has taken to develop and implement international supply chain security standards, (2) actions CBP has taken with international partners to achieve mutual recognition of customs security practices, and (3) issues CBP and foreign customs administrations anticipate in implementing 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound container cargo. To conduct its work, GAO analyzed CBP documents on supply chain security programs and international cooperation initiatives and met with CBP officials and foreign customs officials from various trading partner nations. Also, GAO drew upon its related reports and testimony on supply chain security issued earlier this year--GAO-08-187 (Jan. 25), GAO-08-240 (Apr. 25), and GAO-08-533T (June 12). DHS provided technical comments on a draft of this report, which GAO incorporated where appropriate.

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