Introduction by Executive Assistant Commissioner Smith

*This is the first entry of a multipart series

Executive Assistant Commissioner (EAC) for the Office of International Trade (OT), Brenda Smith, provided an overview of the challenges facing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s trade mission as well as initiatives being taken by the Agency in coordination with the private sector to address them.

Symposium Overview

Unified Cargo Processing, Data Analytics, and other Innovative Trade Processing Technologies Serve as Prominent Themes of U.S. CBP 2017 East Coast Trade Symposium

Throughout the two-day annual East Coast Trade Symposium in Atlanta on December 5th-6th, U.S. CBP Officials referenced a number of technology and process innovations the agency has undertaken in partnership with the private sector and North American counterparts in order to process trade more efficiently and securely. These included Unified Cargo Processing, data analytics, and other innovative trade processing technologies.

Along with invited guests from the private sector, CBP personnel from the offices of International Trade and Field Operations discussed various challenges facing the agency’s trade mission; including implementing provisions of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTEA), safely processing the rapid growth of e-commerce shipments, coordinating with Mexico and Canada on faster truck and rail cargo processing, and carrying out the mission while facing staffing shortages.

Introduction by Executive Assistant Commissioner, Brenda Smith

Brenda Smith, opened the Symposium by outlining four areas the Office plans to address going forward.

  1. Secure Trade Lanes:
    1. Enhancing trusted trader programs,
    2. Developing the U.S. Single Window program,
    3. Exploring technology to authenticate trade transactions,
    4. Securing e-commerce.
  2. Next Generation Trade Facilitation:
    1. Supporting a legal framework to allow for full trade facilitation benefits that will enhance the U.S. economy,
    2. Reduce unnecessary regulations, and
    3. Provide more transparent requirements to the trade community.
  3. Improved Enforcement:
    1. Making the cost of cheating greater than the cost of doing business.
    2. Enforcing TFTEA provisions, particularly those related to ADCVD and Forced Labor
    3. Collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) in trade processing, and the Department of Justice to prosecute violators where appropriate.
  4. Resource Optimization:
    1. Where will CBP investments and energy provide the greatest benefit?
      • Investments in CBP technology have resulted in large gains for the U.S. economy through faster trade processing.
  5. Addressing hiring shortages
  6. Matching personnel responsibilities with opportunities to advance the trade mission into the future.

EAC Smith posed questions that would need to be answered by CBP and the trade community going forward.

  1. How do we find the right balance of regulations that allows CBP to carry out its enforcement mission, while allowing the trade industry to conduct business without undue burden?
  2. How do we manage the border to support trade and collect appropriate revenue?
  3. How do we reduce health, safety, and financial risk to the public, consumers, and businesses?
  4. What regulations should the government have over supply chain intermediaries?
  5. Who should CBP partner with to acquire trade intelligence? What should we ask for?
  6. How do we embrace new technology used by the trade community and to improve enforcement?

​The remainder of the Symposium aimed to answer many of these questions, as will be included in our following recap postings of the event. The next post will summarize an interview conducted with Acting Commissioner McAleenan. With Geoff Powell, President of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, leading the interview, McAleenan discusses topics such as e-commerce and forced labor imports enforcement, as well as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and other technologies. 

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