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Customs Dictates

Regardless of any increased security concerns, life goes on for importers and exporters.

This story appears in the March 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

How are entrepreneurs involved in global trade faring during a time when everything from airline travel to shipping is moving half as quickly as normal? Surprisingly, the folks at ê Shave Inc., an upscale purveyor of shaving products and accessories to boutiques and department stores in the United States and Europe, and Eziba, a North Adams, Massachusetts, e-commerce company that sells handmade objects from artisans worldwide, report no extraordinary problems with shipping in the months since last September's terrorist attacks.

George Weise, vice president of global trade and compliance at Vastera, a Dulles, Virginia, provider of e-business solutions for global trade management and former commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service, is extremely surprised. "It is not business as usual at the ports of entry, nor do I expect it to be for quite some time," he says. We're telling clients to expect more scrutiny of goods, stricter enforcement of laws and more unpredictability." (This especially applies to chemical, biological and high-tech companies.) If Weise's predictions are correct, don't expect a complete retrenching, but rather "a new paradigm in global trade" where U.S. Customs refocuses its resources to actively watch for terrorists and articles of terrorism, resulting in significant delays.

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