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  4. Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller addresses 2024 Trade Summit

Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller addresses 2024 Trade Summit

Release Date
Tue, 03/26/2024

CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of Commissioner Troy A. Miller delivered the following remarks at the 2024 Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Good morning. How's everyone doing? It's great to be here with such a distinguished group of individuals as we all work together on our shared mission. As Susan stated, CBP and our partners are closely monitoring the collision of a shipping vessel at the Francis Scott Key Bridge. Most importantly, our hearts go out to the families of those involved and to the teams engaged in the search and rescue efforts.

It's great to be here again this year for our Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit. It was great to be in Boston last year for our first in-person event for a couple of years, and to see 1200 folks in this room today is frankly awesome. I see many familiar faces and I appreciate that you are here in person and virtually to engage with us on these key issues.

CBP remains committed to our partnership with you, and the broader trade community. The Summit is an excellent opportunity for us to provide you with critical updates on our efforts, explore areas of shared interest, and hear from you on your priorities.

Thank you for sharing your expertise and experience over the next few days, and my thanks as well to our colleagues who made this important event possible. It truly is a yearlong event to put this on and the team did a great job. So, let's give them a round of applause.

For 21 years now, and a couple of hundred years before that, CBP and U.S. Customs Service have worked to facilitate legitimate trade and protect the U.S. economy while enforcing our laws, safeguarding consumer health and safety, and ensuring our national security. The past two decades have shown how integral our mission is to ensure a level playing field for American businesses.

The work the men and women of CBP perform on a daily basis makes an enormous impact on a variety of fronts. We recently launched the Green Trade Incentives Analysis, a comprehensive research initiative, to identify meaningful incentives to minimize environmental harms and maximize the environmental benefits of trade.

On the intellectual property front, in fiscal year 2023, CBP seized 19,522 shipments, containing nearly 23 million items in violation of intellectual property rights. The total estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the seized goods, had they been genuine, is nearly $2.5 billion dollars.

In terms of forced labor, CBP's aggressive enforcement actions over the last four years have improved the working and living conditions for thousands of workers around the world. This enforcement has resulted in the repayment of over $62 million in withheld wages and recruitment fees to workers trapped in debt bondage. We are also seeing companies adjust their supply chains and enhance their due diligence. That is your impact. Partnerships protecting the security, health, and economic vitality of the American people requires intense work and collaboration with everyone in this room.

Our partnerships make us stronger, more adaptable, and better prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. The Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a prime example. For over 20 years, the CTPAT program has been at the forefront of robust public private partnerships to secure all of our supply chains. The program continues to play an integral part in our multi-layered cargo enforcement strategy, enabling CBP to prioritize the facilitation of secure and compliant trade.

CTPAT is actively collaborating with our 10,000 plus partners to develop a cohesive, consistent, and innovative plan that will modernize the program and ensure its continued effectiveness and stability into the future.

One of the major outcomes of partnership is our focus on innovation together. The trade environment is constantly evolving and expanding. At the same time, we are continuously seeking to leverage technology to become more efficient and effective in our mission.

In fiscal year 2023, CBP processed over $5 trillion in combined imports and exports. We also collected more than $92 billion in duties, taxes, and other fees on behalf of the U.S. government. Investing in technology innovation can help us manage these increases. We need to continue moving forward with our modernization efforts of the Automated Commercial Environment to ACE 2.0.

For example, in 2023, we successfully tested technology and standards that assisted with origin compliance and product indemnification in the steel industry and for affirming preferential treatment under free trade agreements for oil transported by pipelines. In 2024, we will expand our tests into the areas of e-commerce, food safety and natural gas. But we need authorization, funding, and collaboration with industry and our interagency partners to really make an impact.

We are also investing in non-intrusive inspection technology, which is a force multiplier. NII systems allow officers to detect anomalies and conveyances and identify contraband and illicit goods more quickly-- eight minutes compared to two hours for a physical inspection, which saves everyone time. This time savings also translates to cost savings. CBP is saving an estimated $1 billion in annual operating costs, and the trade industry will save billions through improved efficiency and reduced delays.

You should already be experiencing the facilitation impacts, even as we improve our enforcement capabilities. In fiscal year 2023, CBP officers utilized large-scale NII to conduct more than 9.4 million exams and resulted in over a thousand seizures. These seizures included more than 50,000 kilograms of drugs and $2.5 million in undeclared U.S. currency.

The small package environment skyrocketed in fiscal year 2023, as you all know in this room, with over one billion packages claiming de minimis preferences in the United States. Currently, CBP processes approximately 4 million de minimis shipments per day, up from 2.8 million this time last year. This poses significant challenges for all of us as bad actors exploit this explosion in volume to traffic illicit goods.

Bad things do come in small packages. The threats in de minimis are real and pose significant risks to the American people and economy. Eighty-five percent of all seizures made for health and safety violations were in the de minimis environment. These packages contain dangerous materials that can cause serious harm, like counterfeit pharmaceuticals, counterfeit batteries and electronics, illicit narcotics, and even the precursor chemicals and materials like pill presses and die molds used to manufacture fentanyl and synthetic drugs that are killing Americans.

The trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs is particularly problematic. Fentanyl is one of the gravest challenges we face now—frankly, that we have ever faced. Combating the influx of these synthetic drugs remains and will continue to be a top priority for CBP. However, the fight against fentanyl and other synthetic drugs is complex.

I know we've told you, but this year again we're showing you with our “Threats to Law Enforcement in De Minimis” exhibit just how dangerous small packages can be. I encourage you to stop by and speak with our officers to learn more about the threats we are seeing.

Through our De Minimis Task Force, we're focusing on “acting now” with respect to de minimis enforcement—from policy and communications to operations and automation. We are prioritizing and operationalizing many of the recommendations made by the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee’s De Minimis Working Group.

CBP is taking significant steps to address the influx of fentanyl and other synthetic drugs. The data we receive for most of de minimis shipments today, including advanced data, is limited and can sometimes be vague and inaccurate. We continue to work with DHS to move our 21st Century Customs Framework statutory package through the interagency review process. At the same time, we are working with Treasury to ensure that our de minimis regulatory package enters interagency review.

Both packages will provide CBP with better insight into what a de minimis shipment is, improve data quality, and allow for more information sharing with you, our trade partners. Later this morning, you are going to hear more about what we and some of our partner agencies are doing in the de minimis space and what we have planned for the future.

CBP can't fix de minimis alone. We all have a shared responsibility in securing the supply chain. We need your support.

Over the past several months, stakeholders have raised concerns regarding the impact of de minimis on the textile and apparel industries, which is threatening industry domestically as well as in Mexico and Central America. Concerns have also been raised about trade cheats violating the rules of our free trade agreements and the potential for cotton tainted by forced labor to enter our country through de minimis.

We are taking these issues very seriously and we are interested in your feedback and your ideas. We are committed to ensuring that textile and apparel importers fully comply with applicable laws, regulations, quotas, free trade agreements and other preference programs to promote a fair and level playing field for the U.S. industry.

We also know how important industry is to our partners in Central America and Mexico, so we are working to ensure that bad actors do not sap the vitality of this critical industry corridor and impede the flow of legitimate goods.

As you may be aware, Secretary Mayorkas recently asked CBP, Homeland Security Investigations, and other DHS components to develop a comprehensive plan to intensify enforcement. We look forward to sharing more information soon.

In the meantime, we are ramping up our enforcement efforts. For example, in February, we conducted a Textile Production Verification Team mission in Mexico, visiting 31 factories. Cheating undermines the hard work that many of you in this room do every day. You wouldn't be here if you weren't serious about compliance, and we want to make sure you have an even playing field as well.

Finally, we are increasing our focus on supply chain traceability combined with facilitation. Today we are announcing that CBP is partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, to expand focus of the Global Business Identifier or GBI test. CBP will work jointly with the FDA to explore how identifiers could be leveraged to enable coordination and harmonized decision-making across the U.S. government. This could enhance predictability, lower costs, and create the opportunity for additional facilitation benefits for compliant trade.

We have already taken steps to expand the scope of the GBI test. In February, we issued a federal register notice relaying modifications intended to promote participation, including extending the test for three more years and removing commodity and country of origin limitations on the types of entries permitted to be evaluated under the test.

I encourage our trade partners to participate in this test and voluntarily transmit your GBI data with your entry filings. Your feedback will help inform the ongoing evaluation of the GBI test, including potential benefits for filers.

Later today, there will be a panel that discusses how CBP is working to facilitate supply chain traceability using identifiers, the expanded scope of the GBI test, and opportunities for participation. 

As you can see, there's a lot going on within CBP's trade mission. In the 21 years since CBP was formed, the trade landscape has changed and evolved exponentially. We all need to adapt to these changes. Within CBP, we are constantly looking at our processes and how we can make them better. I think this is important for everyone here—whether government agencies or industry partners.

I would ask everyone involved in the trade community to continue taking a similar look at your operations and processes. Your presence at this Summit shows that you have already made a commitment to focus on compliance and prioritize the safety and security of the United States. What more can we do together? I encourage you to take advantage of the next few days to learn from each other and build new relationships. I look forward to meeting and hearing from many of you and again, thank you all for being here and taking part in this important Summit. Have a great time.

Last Modified: May 17, 2024