CT Strategies: Takeaways from the 2018 CBP Trade Symposium. Part 3: CBP Partnerships with Industry

This is part three of our 2018 Trade Symposium Recap Series. In this part, we discuss how CBP and Private Sector are partnering to combat a host of trade violations, including Forced Labor, and the ways by which CBP aims to help its most trusted partners.

We recommend reading Part 1 of our series for a detailed look into challenges recent technological innovations and pressing challenges CBP as an Agency faces. 

Readers looking for a detailed look into challenges CBP is facing with E-Commerce, ACE and the Single Window program should read Part 2 of our series. 


​The CT Strategies team was pleased to attend the annual U.S. CBP Trade Symposium in Atlanta on August 14th-15th in Atlanta. The event presents a great opportunity to network with former colleagues from CBP, current associates in the trade industry, and hear CBP’s message to the trade community. We are sharing 10 Takeaways from the Trade Symposium in three parts.

In part one, we discussed technological innovations, such as Blockchain and Artificial intelligence, and cyber security challenges the agency faces. Part two focused on the challenges CBP faces as it relates to E-Commerce, ACE/ Single Window. Today is about CBP and Private Industry partnerships.

CBP Needs Assistance from Industry to Combat Forced Labor

​As discussed during the “Global Trade Enforcement” panel, moderated by CBP Office of International Affairs Assistant Commissioner, Ian Saunders, CBP’s efforts to combat the import of forced labor goods are progressing. The issue has taken on a new level of priority for CBP since the passage of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) in 2016 but is difficult to enforce.

CBP needs support from the trade community to identify risk for forced labor in the supply chain more than many other enforcement issues. Legitimate producers know the source locations for their products and raw materials better than CBP and can provide valuable intelligence in combatting forced labor. Utilizing information from human rights organizations with knowledge of overseas labor markets is also critical. The Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) has also allowed CBP additional authorities to investigative trade violations overseas, such as forced labor made goods in the supply chain. Investigations are still primarily handled by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

CBP also relies on its overseas Attaches to work with foreign governments to gain intelligence. Significant enforcement action was taken against seafood from North Korea in 2017. A significant portion of seafood from Thailand is currently at risk for being caught with forced labor. The government of Thailand has been cooperative; however, it remains difficult to take action against these imports without also disrupting the legitimate supply chain.

ACAS Provides Lessons Learned for Government-Industry Partnership. 

After over seven years operating as a pilot program, the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program formally went into effect in June of 2018.  ACAS, a joint CBP/TSA program, has had about an 80-85% participation rate over the years, which CBP would like to increase, and has largely been well-received by the express consignment industry and other air carriers.

Expansion to include passenger airlines (that also carry cargo) and forwarders is also underway. CBP described the 7.5 year pilot as “necessarily slow” in order to have extensive bidirectional education to inform the process. ACAS is also being harmonized with the international community that is looking to create standards for air cargo. CBP is working with the World Customs Organization and the International Air Transport Association to harmonize data requirements.

CBP’s Trusted Trader Program, CTPAT, is Moving Forward. 

As part of the ‘Cargo Processing & Partnership Panel’, CTPAT Director, Liz Schmelzinger discussed the progress the CTPAT Office is making on their Trusted Trader Strategy ahead of the September 12th-13th CTPAT conference in Orlando.

The Strategy, made in consultation with the COAC, will work to merge CTPAT security focused criteria with Importer Self-Assessment (ISA) compliance focused criteria. Integrating Partner Government Agencies (PGAs) would be the next level of integration, followed by Mutual Recognition with foreign partners. The automation of all of the ISA files has been a large undertaking, but should be of benefit to the trade when completed. The new Minimum Security Criteria for the program is also under development. New or revised standards include cybersecurity, container seals, and agriculture residue.

Program Benefits

​CBP is also re-examining CTPAT program benefits in coordination with PGAs to identify better, more efficient ways to serve the trade industry. Out of 50 benefits considered, CTPAT is trying to prioritize the top 6-7 where improvements could be made. Among those mentioned were 1) More user-friendly CTPAT Portal development with increased automation and data storage for participants. 2) Expedited rulings from the CBP Office of Regulations & Rulings. 3) Furtherance of the Aqua Lane pilot, which is now at 20 seaports and allows for early unloading of vessels. 4) more Secure Importer of Record number (preventing identity theft) 5) Relocation of secondary exams and 6) Relocation of NII exams, using remote viewing technology.