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Commissioner Kerlikowske’s Remarks at the Seattle Policy Forum

Release Date: 
March 30, 2016

Remarks as prepared for March 30, 2016

Thank you. I’m delighted to be back here in Seattle.

I’d like to thank the Monument Policy Group.

Your clients have an excellent advocate in Stewart [Verdery], whose tremendous expertise in security, trade, and travel is complemented by a keen understanding of how Congress works.

Today, I’d like to bring you up to date on CBP – the challenges we face in the areas of trade and travel – and how our partnerships with you – our industry stakeholders – translate into real solutions.

From backpacks to bass guitars; Windows PCs to portable defibrillators; jumbo jets to compact disks; and down parkas to disposable diapers, Washington State truly has an amazing track record for invention and innovation.

As the birthplace of business legends like Amazon, Boeing, Costco, Expedia, Microsoft, Nordstrom, PACCAR, Starbucks, and REI—along with countless thriving small and medium-sized businesses—the Pacific Northwest is critically important to the nation’s economy.

So it’s especially important that CBP understand your interests and goals – and that your companies understand ours.

CBP has a commitment that sounds deceptively simple: to protect our borders and our national security; and to facilitate the flow of lawful goods and people in and out of the country, contributing to our economic security.

In reality, that mission is exceptionally broad and complex.

And, coming from D.C., it’s my sworn duty to ply you with data to put this complexity into perspective.

In FY 2015, CBP processed more than $2.4 trillion in imports—26 million cargo containers.

We also collected approximately $46 billion in duties, taxes, and other fees.

For Washington State, the value of imports has grown from $47 billion in 2012 to more than $51 billion in 2015.

CBP also processed more than $1.5 trillion worth of U.S. exports.

Much of this activity was through the Port of Seattle – one of the 10 largest container ports in North America.

Just as trade volumes are growing, the story is much the same on the travel side.

CBP processes more than a million travelers every day.

More than 112 million international travelers arrived at U.S. airports in 2015 – and over the next five years, international travel is projected to increase at an annual rate of around 4 percent.

Against this backdrop, CBP officers must carefully balance security needs with efficiency in the inspection process.

First, let me outline some of our key facilitation efforts.

As many of you know, President Obama called for the completion of a “single window” by December 2016—allowing businesses to electronically transmit data required to import or export cargo. 

The Automated Commercial Environment – or ACE – creates one system for transmitting electronic information about imports and exports for 47 government agencies, eliminating over 200 different forms and streamlining the import/export process.

It provides those Federal agencies earlier visibility into shipment data, expediting import or export assessments at the border, and speeding the flow of trade.

We’ve been closely communicating with many of you and other industry colleagues to ensure readiness for this transition to ACE, and your feedback is helping us drive to our year end goal. 

Another key initiative is the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program.

In October 2010, concealed explosive devices shipped from Yemen were found in cargo on a plane destined for the U.S.

While CBP was already getting advance information for air shipments prior to arrival, this incident underscored the importance of certain information prior to loading cargo onto U.S.-bound aircraft.

In December 2010, CBP and the TSA launched the ACAS pilot program with FedEx, UPS, DHL, and TNT to address this need.

With ACAS, participants submit advanced air cargo information that enables CBP and TSA to target and mitigate high-risk shipments. 

Currently, there are 51 participants in the pilot, and the pilot has been extended to run through July of 2016.

And we are working closely with our foreign counterparts to help implement similar security programs internationally.

Another key effort is our Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, or C-TPAT.

CBP requires C-TPAT member businesses to ensure the integrity of their whole supply chains. 

In exchange, CBP affords C-TPAT members reduced examination rates, access to the Free and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes on the Southwest and Northern borders, access to an individually assigned C-TPAT Security Specialists, and participation in the annual C-TPAT conference. 

Launched in November 2001 with only 7 major importers, the program now has than 11,300 certified partners.

And CBP is working with several foreign customs administrations to implement global standards and develop reciprocal benefits.

Finally, we’ve reached an important milestone regarding our Centers for Excellence and Expertise.

We began creating the Centers five years ago to process post-release trade activities virtually within industry sectors based on account-focused principles.

I’m pleased to announce that all 10 Centers are now fully operational.

The Centers are transforming the way we interact with our trade stakeholders – enabling us to meet the challenges of increasing trade volumes while strengthening our key trade enforcement capabilities.

This extraordinary shift in the way we do business reduces transaction costs, increases uniformity and consistency, boosts compliance with import laws, and facilitates commerce.

Now, turning to the enforcement side of our mission, CBP is committed to stopping terrorism, smuggling, theft, fraud, and other criminal activity that jeopardize the security of the supply chain – and therefore our national and economic security.

For example, as a multiagency “fusion center,” the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center (CTAC) targets commercial shipments that could threaten the health and safety of American consumers. 

CTAC is composed of 11 federal government agencies interested in preventing, identifying, and investigating violations of trade laws.  

In FY 2015, the CTAC initiated nearly 400 seizures of unsafe imported products – items like Children’s Toys and Vehicle and Automotive parts, – with a retail value of $24 million.

Another trade enforcement priority for CBP is in the field of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD).

In FY 2015, $10.1 billion of imported goods were subject to AD/CVD, and CBP collected $1.2 billion in AD/CVD deposits.

Furthermore, CBP and our sister agency within the Department of Homeland Security – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – seized shipments with a domestic value of more than $5 million for violations of AD/CVD. 

CBP also enforces Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) – most visibly by seizing products and infringe on trademarks, copyrights, and patents.

The theft of intellectual property and the trade in fake goods – everything from fake Super Bowl jerseys, counterfeit jewelry, and toys to handbags, electronics, and pharmaceuticals – threatens America’s economic vitality and national security.

This kind of commerce in illicit goods also funds criminal activities and organized crime, and jeopardizes public health and safety.

To combat these threats, CBP has developed a multi-layered, strategic approach to IPR enforcement.

CBP audits the business records of companies at high risk for importing counterfeits, issues penalties for infringing goods, and works with companies to improve their internal controls.

CBP also issues civil fines and, where appropriate, refers cases to other law enforcement agencies for criminal investigation.

CBP uses technology to aid in this effort.

Rights holders can use our web-based tool, e-Recordation, to record their trademarks and copyrights with CBP, making information on protected rights available to CBP ports and offices throughout the United States.

Our online trade violation reporting system, e-Allegations, makes it easier for the private sector to notify CBP of possible IPR and other trade violations.

CBP is a partner at the interagency National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), which brings together 23 agencies (including 19 Federal agencies), Interpol, Europol, and the governments of Mexico and Canada to enforce IPR laws globally.

Finally, a word about the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which President Obama recently signed into law.

This law is the first comprehensive authorization of CBP since DHS was created 13 years ago, and does several things: strengthens CBP’s revenue collection and trade enforcement; formally establishes our Centers of Excellence and Expertise; authorizes continued funding for ACE; and authorizes the expansion of our preclearance program.

By authorizing CBP, the Act establishes a modern foundation for the agency’s mission to safeguard economic and national security.

Now, I’d like to talk briefly about the travel industry.

Nearly five years ago, CBP’s Office of Field Operations embarked on an ambitious campaign to modernize and improve operations and infrastructure to improve passenger travel.

The flagship of this effort, Global Entry, is now available at 60 airports at both domestic and preclearance locations, and more than 4.1 million travelers now have Global Entry benefits.           

We also rolled out Automated Passport Control, or APC – touchscreen kiosks that let passengers scan passports, provide fingerprints, and enter their customs declaration information.

APC has been proven to reduce wait times by nearly 30 percent, and allows officers to focus on passengers instead of paperwork.

Today, eligible travelers can use APC kiosks to expedite their entry into the U.S. at 39 airports worldwide, including all major international airports in the United States.

Likewise, Mobile Passport Control allows eligible travelers to submit passport information and customs declarations from their smartphones or tablets when they arrive at the airport.

This free app has been downloaded more than 360,000 times and is now available at 7 U.S. international airports.

At the top 25 airports last year alone, approximately 33 percent of passengers used Global Entry, APCs, or mobile technology to clear Customs.

CBP also works together with our stakeholders through public-private partnership programs authorized by Congress.

For example, our Reimbursable Services Program allows CBP to work with our partners to provide services beyond what would otherwise be possible.

CBP has been able to provide more than 100,000 hours of additional CBP officer overtime at participating airports. 

And we’ve seen great results: during the program’s first year, participating airports saw a remarkable 30 percent decrease in wait times – even though passenger volumes rose by 7 percent.

CBP has also been working to expand its Preclearance program.

Through Preclearance, the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections can be completed at a foreign airport, before departure.

This allows CBP and our international partners to identify and address threats before they ever board a plane to the U.S.

More than 17 million travelers went through one of CBP’s Preclearance locations in Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean, and the United Arab Emirates in Fiscal Year 2015.

And we’re in discussions to expand Preclearance to 10 new airports in 9 foreign countries.

We’ve also made progress in recruitment and hiring.

CBP established a National Frontline Recruitment Command (NFRC) to provide support and expertise to Field Operations, U.S. Border Patrol, and Air and Marine Operations field recruitment offices.

And we are currently on track to host more than a thousand recruitment events nationwide this year.

These recruitment efforts will help provide much needed staffing at our ports.

As technology continues to advance, CBP is employing it in new ways to improve operations and border security.

One of these technologies – biometrics – holds tremendous promise for CBP in combating document fraud and identity theft.

CBP recently deployed facial comparison technology at JFK Airport in New York and at Washington-Dulles International.

This technology helps CBP officers biometrically confirm the identity and match the passport of travelers 18 and older entering the U.S.

We’re also working through challenge and field-testing biometric technology in the departure environment at air and other ports.

For example, at the Otay Mesa, CA port, CBP is testing new biometric technologies and processes to enhance identification of certain non-U.S. citizens entering and exiting the U.S as pedestrians.

In closing, I want to emphasize that CBP’s partnerships with you and your companies are crucial to economic growth and security, not only here in the Pacific Northwest, but nationwide and globally, as well.

I’d like to thank Stewart, Monument, and the Chamber for inviting me to participate in this discussion, and now I’d like to open it up to questions.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017