Levy profile was on target Peter Tirschwell's 'Snapshot' of Hal Levy (JoC Week, April 23-29 edition) captured his persona exactly. Hal was the attorney for the Steamship Operators Intermodal Committee and the Trans-Atlantic American Flag Liner Operators (TAAFLO) for the 16 years of my reign as chairman. He was always knowledgeable, articulate and dedicated to his clients.

One point you missed: He is famous at the FMC for quoting Shakespeare and other classics in support of his positions.As the article implied, he does not suffer fools gladly and can be as hard on his clients as he is tough on his adversaries. However, he is also quick to forgive the deficiencies and frailties of others. He also has a great sense of humor, although it is not always apparent to those in opposition to his views.

I enjoyed my relationship with him, even though it was not always completely comfortable, and count him as a good friend.

David Letteney

Highlands, N.J.

Comments on drawback

As a leading drawback specialist, I would like to comment on an article on the subject in the April 23-29 issue of JoC Week.

1. I agree 100% that drawback is antiquated and requires considerable reform; However, most of the problems are due to Customs' attitude in providing justifiable refunds to exporters. The backlog and bottlenecks are mainly due to delays caused by Customs.

Example: Drawback approvals required to be sent to Washington take years to be reviewed. A simple review of corporate merger documents has taken over a year to approve, even after a press release, articles of incorporation and board of director approvals have been submitted.

2. Regarding the excerpt on drawback offices closing and the subsequent quote from E.J. Ek of C.J. Holt, a New Jersey drawback broker, that 'the idea may not be so bad,' this is very biased as Mr. Ek has all the incentives to insure that other ports close their drawback offices because he is located in a port that will keep its drawback office. That is very self-serving.

Customs is considerably backlogged with drawback claims and applications. To close additional offices would create additional backlogs and increase Customs' (as well as drawback filers') expenses in verifying and auditing drawback claims.

It would have been fair and proper reporting to obtain the opinion of other drawback brokers and filers that are not located in the New York area.

Edward DeSousa

President, Global Drawback Inc.

North Reading, Mass.

Build trust first

Development of information communications technology infrastructure and privatization of telecommunications have been emphasized as a way to lower costs for online activity.

The shift from traditional practices to Internet-enabled business represents a profound structural change in the nature of business. The role of sustaining this business change must be supported by adequate attention to the issues of trust and security.

Governments should take a proactive and neutral role in facilitating trust and confidence in electronic trading frameworks. This is something private entities have been unable to accomplish. But some have argued that governments should not interfere and leave the developments to the private sector.

Although the private sector has made some progress in self-regulation, it has been recognized that important measures can only be achieved through the establishment of proper regulatory frameworks.

It is extremely important that the governments impose strict security policies that are fair and effective so that cyber-crimes can be prosecuted efficiently.

With the basic principles of security and trust established, governmental agencies and public institutions should then take a leading role in building confidence by fully exploiting the benefits of Internet technologies, including the use of business-to-business trading networks and electronic signatures.

These initiatives will no doubt boost trust and confidence to traditional industries, such as shipping, that generally are skeptical about what new technologies can benefit them.

Port authorities, customs clearance authorities and other governmental-linked firms in the shipping sector should take a lead in embracing electronic trade as soon as the necessary information communications technology infrastructure is in place.

Although the start-up 'enablement' costs may be high, the benefits will far outweigh the costs of not embracing.

Hock N. Lim

Antwerp, Belgium