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MARKETS AND TRADE F I N D I N G S Random Inspections Reveal Import Risks VOLUME 7 • ISSUE 3 James Tourtellotte, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Between 1998 and 2007, U.S. agricultural imports increased in subject to less scrutiny and fewer inspections. Regular and more value by 70 percent, U.S. wildlife imports jumped 108 percent, and rigorous random inspections of selected cargo and passengers can foreign passenger arrivals in the U.S. rose 80 percent. While providing reveal which pathways are riskier. many beneﬁts, increased trade and travel raise the risk of imported ERS researchers, using data from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health foods, plants, and wildlife bringing non-native agricultural pests and/ Inspection Service on cargo inspections and a variety of risk and 2 or pathogens into the U.S. uncertainty scenarios, developed a model to determine the optimal Border inspection of passengers and cargo is the frontline in number of random inspections and the most effective allocation of A M B E R WAV E S comprehensive risk management. The U.S. Customs and Border inspection resources at a given port. Model results showed that more Protection branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security frequent random inspections of seemingly low-risk cargoes and pas- inspects passengers and most cargoes for invasive species at ports- sengers may enable inspectors to identify when low-risk pathways of-entry. Cargo inspections, however, can slow supply chains and might become more high-risk. To reduce uncertainty about which damage perishable goods. Passenger inspections cause inconvenient pathways are high risk, ports can devote greater resources to random delays. Therefore, inspectors primarily concentrate on the riskier inspections in cases when the inspection track record is short and “pathways” (the commodity origin and passenger origin upon which therefore uncertain. risk analysis is based). Other, less risky pathways into the U.S. are The variable nature of import risk points to the benefits of continually updating the underlying knowledge of the riskiness of U.S. agricultural and wildlife imports and number of passengers different pathways and periodic reallocations of inspection effort and increased in 1998-2007 resources. Inspecting a portion of all passengers and cargo pathways, 9 including those presumed to be less risky, might reveal underlying 8 7 risks across pathways that were previously unknown. Foreign passenger arrivals 6 (in 10s of millions) Peyton Ferrier, firstname.lastname@example.org 5 Michael Springborn 4 3 Agricultural imports This ﬁnding is drawn from . . . 2 (in 10s of billion of U.S. dollars) Wildlife imports 1 “Illicit Agricultural Trade,” by Peyton Ferrier, in Agricultural (in billions of U.S. dollars) 0 and Resource Economics Review, 37(2): 1-10, 2008. 1998 99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 Source: USDA, Economic Research Service analysis of data from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Census Bureau, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ECONO MIC RESE ARCH SERVICE / USDA
"Random Inspections Reveal Import Risks - Amber Waves September 2009"