U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) held its quarterly COAC meeting, the 2nd of 2019, in Laredo, Texas on May 30th. Laredo has just recently overtaken Los Angeles as the highest volume port in the U.S., processing just over $20B/month in trade this past spring. CBP Leaders and trade advisory committee members of the COAC traveled from Washington DC and around the U.S. to meet with Laredo-area trade stakeholders. Laredo truck traffic had been severely hampered, like many southwest border ports, earlier this spring by the reallocation of CBP Officers from trade processing to assisting U.S. Border Patrol with processing migrants. The situation has improved in the last month, but CBP resources remain strained.
Topics at the COAC ranged from: a recent Executive Order to Combat Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods; the development of new risk-based bonding procedures; new CTPAT Minimum Security Criteria, blockchain technology, and other trade issues. The COAC has also created a Northern Triangle Working Group to assist Central American countries with improving trade facilitation and overall economic conditions to create opportunity and reduce the need for Central Americans to migrate to the U.S.
On Friday, May 31st, also in Laredo, CBP Officials from headquarters and Laredo joined to discuss the CTPAT program with over 100 industry members.
Led by CTPAT Director, Manny Garza, and Deputy Director of Field Operations in Laredo, Bradd Skinner, officials discussed the new Minimum Security Criteria (MSC) set to go into effect in January 2020. They also discussed CTPAT program suspensions/removals, the readmittance process, and when it is beneficial to go above and beyond the MSC.
Representing Kansas City Southern Railroad, a CTPAT member, Director of Interline Operations, Steve Simmons, discussed the Laredo Rail ‘Secure Corridor’, a public-private partnership with CBP to make cross-border rail operations more efficient at the Laredo border.