As featured in full length in the Women in International Trade (WIIT) Communique, the theme of partnership is consistent across many of sections of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA). The legislation calls on agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Trade Representative, to strengthen their enforcement posture against trade violations as well as their facilitation roles in order to ensure legitimate trade flows as efficiently as possible. To do this, the different agencies must collaborate on information-sharing, form joint working groups, cooperate with foreign partners, and leverage technology.
The TFTEA promotes and formalizes many strategic public-private partnerships aimed at accomplishing these goals. While a number of these partnerships have been in practice for several years, the TFTEA formalizes them and demonstrates Congress’s understanding of the importance of partnerships in balancing enforcement, security, and economic stimulus through trade.
Although there are numerous references to public-private partnership throughout the TFTEA, there are three in particular that represent the current state and evolution of partnerships between CBP and the industry:
Section 101, Trusted Trader
In order to maintain CBP’s premier Trusted Trader Program, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), as an innovative, world-leading program, CBP must ensure it is collaborating with industry to provide proper, measurable benefits to industry in exchange for their self-policing security measures and data-sharing responsibilities.
Section 109: Formalizing COAC
The Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations (COAC), a committee of appointed stakeholders who represent the industry, is re-formalized in the TFTEA. The COAC provides an important forum for CBP and the trade community to maintain a dialogue on challenging issues, and allow for co-creation, and bi-directional education opportunities.
Section 110: Formalizing the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEEs)
The CEEs take an innovative approach to trade facilitation by providing a streamlined, ‘one-stop-shop’ for industry members to have their questions answered and ‘customer service needs’ uniformly addressed. While they were originally a pilot program, section 110 of the TFTEA now formalizes them.
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