Unlocking the Power of COAC

In the complex world of international trade, efficient customs operations are essential for businesses to thrive. Amidst the myriad regulations, policies, and practices governing commerce, ensuring smooth operations at the border is paramount. This is where the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee (COAC) steps in as a crucial player. However what exactly is COAC, and why should members of programs like the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) pay attention? 

"During my CBP career, and particularly during my time at CTPAT, I found the work of COAC to be key component for driving realistic change in Customs processes."
Shawn Beddows
Vice President of Global Services

Understanding COAC:

COAC is made up of appointed members from the international trade community who provide input on emerging trade facilitation and enforcement issues. COAC serves as a vital advisory body to the U.S. government, specifically advising the Secretaries of the Department of the Treasury and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on matters concerning the commercial operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and related functions of the Treasury and DHS. 

COAC's Mandate:

Enshrined in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, COAC is tasked with several key responsibilities: 

  1. Advisory Role: COAC advises the Secretaries of the Treasury and DHS on matters concerning CBP’s commercial operations. This includes providing guidance on significant changes proposed in regulations, policies, or practices of CBP.
  2. Recommendations: COAC provides recommendations to the Secretaries of the Treasury and DHS aimed at improving the commercial operations of CBP. These recommendations are based on expert insights and industry feedback, aiming to streamline processes and enhance efficiency.
  3. Collaborative Agenda Setting: COAC plays a collaborative role in developing the agenda for its meetings. This ensures that discussions reflect the most pressing issues facing international trade and customs operations.
  4. Other Functions: COAC performs additional functions related to CBP’s commercial operations as directed by law or jointly by the Secretaries of the Treasury and DHS. This flexibility allows COAC to adapt to evolving challenges and requirements within the realm of customs operations.

Why COAC Matters:

Furthermore, COAC is an important source of advocacy and information for businesses engaged in international trade and logistics. Here’s why COAC matters: 

  1. Private Sector Perspective: COAC brings together industry experts, trade practitioners, and government officials to offer informed guidance on customs operations. This ensures that government new policies and practices are grounded in real-world experience and perspective from the trade community.
  2. Policy Influence: By advising the Secretaries of the Treasury and DHS, COAC wields significant influence in shaping regulations, policies, and practices related to customs operations. Its recommendations carry weight in decision-making processes, helping to drive positive changes that benefit businesses and facilitate trade.
  3. Streamlining Processes: Through its recommendations, COAC works towards streamlining customs processes, reducing administrative burden, and enhancing efficiency at the border. This is particularly crucial for CTPAT members, as smoother customs operations contribute to faster clearance times and reduced supply chain disruptions.

Why CTPAT Members Should Care:

For members of programs like CTPAT, which focuses on supply chain security, COAC’s activities are significant. Here’s why CTPAT members should pay attention to COAC: 

  1. Staying Ahead: COAC provides a platform for industry stakeholders to gain insight into planned changes to customs policy and process. For CTPAT members, this presents an invaluable opportunity to gain visibility into upcoming regulatory changes, emerging opportunities, and potential areas of concern within the realm of customs and trade facilitation. 
  2. Alignment with Best Practices: COAC’s recommendations often align with best practices in customs operations and supply chain management. By staying informed about COAC’s guidance, CTPAT members can ensure that their security protocols and customs compliance efforts remain up-to-date and effective.
  3. Increased Transparency: Through COAC’s transparent processes, CTPAT members can observe decision-making processes and learn about the intent and desired outcomes of changing regulations that impact their business. By understanding what the government is trying to achieve, CTPAT members can develop compliance strategies that are creative, efficient, and go beyond simply responding to written requirements.

In conclusion, COAC stands as a unique actor offering expert guidance, driving policy changes, and facilitating collaboration between industry stakeholders and government agencies. For CTPAT members, staying engaged with COAC’s activities can provide valuable insights, foster compliance with regulatory requirements, and contribute to a more secure and efficient global supply chain. 

About Us

The CT Strategies team of former CBP CTPAT Supply Chain Security Specialists (SCSS) and Directors help companies successfully navigate CBP’s CTPAT program. Using insights from over 80 years of combined CBP operational and policy knowledge, we leverage our first-hand CTPAT supply chain security experience and connections to current CBP leadership, so you can save time and money and get the most out of your CTPAT membership. Learn how here.

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