Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is Your International Trade Compliance Team Ready for Hurricane Season?

With the start of hurricane season, we want to do our part to make sure our readers and customers are prepared for the 2009 Hurricane Season. Hurricane preparedness normally focuses on securing the family residence, evacuation plans and gathering supplies needed. Is your business prepared if your area is hit by a hurricane? For those of you who think this article does not apply to you, do not dismiss it too soon. It could be one of your related parties affected by the storm or your business could be devastated by another disaster such as a tornado, fire, flood or earthquake.

Unlike tornados and fires, a hurricane usually provides warning so that protection of property and evacuation can be accomplished before the storm hits with full force. Even with advance notice, hurricanes cause flooding, power outages, and other major damage. Businesses should be aware of measures they can take to protect their facilities and employees. One of the primary objectives should be to ensure that the business could continue to function after a hurricane has threatened the area. Without a complete plan to protect the business, a quick recovery from a hurricane or other disaster will be difficult. The current state of our economy makes these plans even more important. For those of you who are C-TPAT members, your company may already have an adequate disaster recovery plan. To prepare for a potential disaster, organizations should:

· Create a disaster response and recovery plan that includes provisions for the disasters that could be encountered by your company.
· Identify and protect vital records and back up all key data.
· Protect electronic equipment and store back-up files in a safe place.
· Review the company's insurance policy and make sure it provides adequate coverage.
· Have cash and blank checks available in case extra money is needed after the storm.
· Establish a temporary location for business operations in case your facility is damaged.
· Train employees in the entire process, from pre-disaster preparation to post-disaster recovery procedures.

How would a disaster impact trade compliance? In the event of a disaster, it is important that international trade compliance departments have procedures in place to minimize loss and to provide for resumption of services as soon as possible. While trade compliance may not be critical to the immediate functions of the company as a whole, prolonged disruption of services could ultimately affect the end user of your products. Additionally, trade compliance is responsible for the safe storage of certain required government documentation. Destruction of this required documentation would require extensive manpower and financial resources to reconstruct. The international trade compliance department should:

· Provide a list of critical functions performed by the department.
· Create storage plans for procedure manuals, compliance records, entry files and other documentation that compliance departments must retain.
· Identify the impact of a disaster to other departments that the group works with.
· Create temporary operating procedures.
· Estimate lost revenue during shutdown.
· Determine the order/priority of restoration necessary.
· Identify staffing requirements.
· Identify equipment, office supplies and other tools needed to complete work assignments such as the CBP Regulations, HTSUS, EAR, ITAR, file folders, computers, software and miscellaneous supplies.

Do your part to protect your company, your job and yourself in the event of a disaster. For additional information concerning hurricanes, visit the following web sites.

Department of Homeland Security

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