CBP 2017 West Coast Trade Symposium, "Looking Ahead Together: What’s Next for Trade?”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s 2017 West Coast Trade Symposium, held in Scottsdale, Arizona, on May 24-25, focused on partnerships between the U.S. government and private sector. The two-day event took a closer look at how the public and private sectors are working together to decide what’s next on the horizon for U.S. trade.
The symposium opened with an on-stage interview between recently nominated Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and Vincent Iacopella, executive vice president of growth and strategy at Alba Wheels Up International Inc., a customs brokerage and freight forwarding company. The questions touched on many of the agency’s top trade priorities: reducing supply chain barriers without slowing down the facilitation of cargo processing, leveraging new technologies such as blockchain, as well as CBP’s recent engagement with Mexico and Canada on harmonizing the North America Single Window.
Setting the discussion
Symposium panels, which addressed key trade issues, began with the Prioritizing American Prosperity session moderated by Brenda Smith, CBP’s executive assistant commissioner for the Office of Trade. Smith discussed changes in the global economy and the challenges with managing day-to-day operations, while also dealing with a complex trade environment with Jerry Cook, vice president of government and trade relations at Hanes Brands, Inc. John Leonard, CBP’s executive director for trade policy and programs, described how his office is in the process of creating a branch dedicated to addressing the changing phenomenon in the trade environment. Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate Troy Riley addressed his office’s focused efforts around the mandates laid out in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, while Eric Miller, president of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a Washington, D.C.-based advisory firm, provided a “bird’s eye” view of how his company deals with processes and technology.
A collective border mission
Cynthia Whittenburg, deputy executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade, moderated a panel on the Border Interagency Executive Council’s vision, which discussed the interagency effort and the role of trade in this approach. Panel participants included Bruce Harsh, director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Supply Chain, Robert Berczik, an international issues analyst at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and Hun Quach, vice president of international trade for the Retail Industry Leaders Association.
Deborah Augustin, executive director of CBP’s Trade Transformation Office, formally known as the ACE Business Office, led a best practices discussion for the Driving Global Innovation panel. As the head of the office responsible for understanding and achieving best practices, Augustin discussed the innovations and methodologies aimed at minimizing processes with her panel members—Anil John, a program manager in the cyber security division of the Science and Technology Directorate at DHS; Tom Overacker, CBP’s assistant director of Cargo Targeting; Jim McLaughlin, executive director of CBP’s Office of Information Technology; and Alan Cohn, of counsel at Steptoe & Johnson and a principal at ADC/Strategy Works. The panel focused on how innovation benefits consumers, increases the availability of new products, and drives economic growth and development. Throughout the discussion, Augustin reiterated the government’s responsibility in fostering and investing in innovation, overcoming barriers with respect to innovation, and ensuring that innovation contributes to public policy.
An action-packed lunch
At the keynote luncheon, Executive Assistant Commissioner Smith and Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner Whittenburg gave symposium participants an inside look at how CBP is using big data to drive trade policy and action. They emphasized how the agency is moving from a “collector of data” mindset to a “connector of data” mindset to predict and address the many risks involving trade. CBP unveiled an economic benefits model to underscore how the shift is helping to define and shape the agency’s impact on the U.S. economy.
The breakout sessions
The Business of Small Business breakout session, moderated by Shaun Keller, CBP’s e-commerce and small business branch chief, explored opportunities for small businesses to work with entities in the global supply chain. The panel included members of the trade community including Al Kaufman, senior vice president of technical affairs at The Toy Association, who discussed compliance issues concerning small businesses, and Rene Romero, president of AM-MEX International, who addressed the transportation and logistics of importing and exporting for small businesses. Megan Giblin, the director of customs and trade facilitation for the United States Council for International Business, addressed international and domestic business models, while Lisa Schimmelpfenning, vice president of import/export, compliance and administration for Walmart Stores, Inc., discussed building relationships with businesses of all sizes, especially small businesses that are rapidly growing in the e-commerce arena.
Other areas of focus at this year’s Trade Symposium breakout sessions included the Centers of Excellence and Expertise; enforcement, partnership, and compliance; the movement and security of e-commerce; CBP’s authority to combat evasion; and a session on streamlining processes designed to solicit feedback from importers, brokers and other trade stakeholders.