*This is the fifth entry in our EC 2017 Trade Symposium Series. Our first entry discussed the opening remarks and missions priorities as set out by Executive Assistant Commissioner, Brenda Smith. Our second entry recounts the President of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association’s, Geoff Powell’s, interview with Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan. Our third entry discussed North American Collaboration for Cargo Processing. Our fourth entry discussed the evolution of CBP’s practices in response to the evolving trade environment.
Executive Assistant Commissioner for the Office of International Trade, Brenda Smith, moderated this panel with both CBP and ICE Officials and private sector representatives to discuss how new policies, processes, and technology tools could improve both trade enforcement and facilitation.
EAC Smith and CBP Executive Director for Commercial Targeting and Enforcement, Troy Riley, discussed how CBP was using predictive analytics to identify trade violations, leveraging a mix of industry and open source data to identify high-risk shipments and deliver consequences. Creating linkages between acts of violation will be key in predicting future violations. Riley discussed that CBP has limited resources and can benefit from outside data sources and machine learning tools to help analysts.
Riley briefly discussed the new “I-Predict” tool being piloted by his office to aide enforcement. The tool combines CBP data sources with additional commercial data sources, and runs them through an advanced software platform for faster processing and more precise analytics. The pilot is relatively new and metrics are not yet available.
Riley also discussed the “Socrates” tool being piloted similarly to I-Predict. Socrates is being conducted in partnership with academia- physicists and mathematicians- to help develop and improve the algorithms that CBP uses to process its data and better identify anomalies. Riley stated it was possible that if the two pilots proved successful, that an integrated program could potentially be developed.
E-Commerce was discussed further as the current number one threat in the trade environment. Illegal drugs, counterfeit products, and other violating products have been more easily moved through the mail and express consignment among the vastly increasing number of e-commerce shipments. The ICE Official stated that more of a business case needed to be made to compel the private sector to help regulate e-commerce traffic.
Enforcement Programs and Partnerships
Executive Director (XD) Riley discussed enhanced partnerships with ICE and the Department of Justice in prosecuting trade violations. Furthermore, the Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA), has expanded CBP’s ability to conduct investigations itself, such as in anti-dumping/countervailing duty (ADCVD) related cases. The EAPA may also help streamline some of the current process that divides ADCVD investigation and enforcement between CBP and the Department of Commerce, though both Departments will maintain a role.
Regarding public-private collaboration, XD Riley stated CBP needed to convey proper messaging on its informed compliance and consequences efforts. Cooperation with foreign governments in anti-dumping or other trade violation cases was also discussed. CBP had recently had success working with Thailand and Malaysia in cracking down on some local violators. It was also discussed that Office of International Trade employees would need to be re-trained on new processes and technologies as they became further developed.