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Commissioner Kerlikowske’s Remarks at a Business Roundtable in El Salvador

Release Date: 
August 23, 2016

Remarks as Prepared, August 23, 2016

Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. I’m pleased to be able to visit the Republic of El Salvador.

I’m delighted to be able to meet with you here to discuss the ways that CBP and the private sector are working together to secure the supply chain while making sure the flow of lawful commerce is as smooth and uninterrupted as possible.

Photo of Commissioner Kerlikowske speaking in El Salvador
CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske addresses
business leaders at a trade roundtable at the
Ambassador’s Residence in El Salvador
on August 23, 2016

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the effective implementation of the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This Free Trade Agreement has wide-ranging implications for customs, trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, communications, labor policies, and the environment.

Nearly 50% of El Salvador’s exports go to the United States. U.S. exports to El Salvador rose by 75% since before the agreement became effective, while El Salvador’s exports to the United States also rose during this time frame, by more than 27%. With nearly $6 billion in two-way trade between our two nations, we know it’s imperative that CBP’s policies and programs are clear, coordinated, and streamlined.

CBP has a dual mission: first and foremost, to protect our borders and our national security; and, second, to facilitate the flow of lawful goods and people in and out of the country.

On a typical day, CBP:

  • Arrests more than 1,000 criminals and fugitives who are trying to enter or depart our country.
  • Intercepts more than 10,000 pounds of drugs;
  • Seizes more than $650,000 in unreported or illicit currency; and
  • Seizes more than $3 million in counterfeit items and other products that violate intellectual property rights.

In Fiscal Year 2015, CBP processed more than $2.4 trillion in imports and $1.5 trillion in exports. We screened more than 26 million cargo containers and 11 million commercial trucks. We collected $46 billion in duties, taxes, and other fees – making CBP one of the largest revenue collectors in the Federal government.

We have several key strategies to transform how we manage trade and the flow of cargo, here in Guatemala, and around the world. These strategies include: modernizing our processes; strictly enforcing U.S. and international trade laws; and partnering with the private sector;

In terms of trade facilitation, one of the most profound changes we’ve made is implementing a U.S. Single Window system, electronically transmitting information about imports and exports for 47 U.S. government agency partners – eliminating more than 200 largely paper-based forms.

The Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE is the backbone of that Single Window system. It’s been a mammoth undertaking, but all imports to the United States are now being processed through ACE, meeting President Obama’s goal of the end of 2016.

Another important modernization effort is our Center of Excellence and Expertise. These 10 fully operational Centers focus on industry-specific issues and providing support tailored for that industry or commodity. The Centers reduce transaction costs, increase uniformity at U.S. ports of entry, and improve compliance with import laws – all of this facilitates commerce.

The other side of our trade mission is enforcement. Intellectual property rights violations and trade in fake goods threatens innovation, funds organized crime, and jeopardizes consumer health/safety.

Key to our IPR enforcement efforts is cooperation with international customs counterparts. The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), brings together 23 agencies, Interpol, Europol, and the governments of Mexico and Canada. In FY15, CBP and ICE seized nearly 29,000 shipments of products containing IPR infringements, worth nearly $1.4 billion.

CBP is also focused on other key trade enforcement priorities, including stopping evasion of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) and preventing goods made with forced labor into the United States.

A law recently signed by President Obama eliminated the “consumptive demand” exemption for goods manufactured using forced labor. This means that goods made with these deplorable labor practices are no longer allowed into the country simply to meet U.S. demand. I’m proud to say I have recently signed Withhold Release Orders for certain shipments of soda ash, potassium, and Stevia products made with convict and forced labor.

These enforcement actions rightly place CBP at the forefront of promoting human rights, and I urge importers, shippers, and manufacturers to examine your supply chains to understand product sourcing and the labor used to generate their products.

CBP’s primary mechanism for engaging with the private sector is the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection – which we mercifully shorten to “COAC.” The COAC advises the U.S. government on issues ranging from global supply chain security and customs broker regulations to agriculture inspection and protection of intellectual property rights.

Through regular meetings, robust dialog, and a commitment to solid, metrics-based and transparent decision-making, COAC truly brings everyone to the table.

CBP also hosts annual trade symposiums on the East and West Coasts of the United States, maintaining open lines of communication and engagement with thousands of large and small businesses.

I hope that provides a clear snapshot of CBP’s engagement with our business and trade stakeholders.

We are committed to collaboration with these stakeholders – because we know how powerful partnerships can be. I appreciate the opportunity to share CBP’s perspectives here with you today, and I look forward to discussing issues of mutual concern.

Thank you.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017