Commissioner Kerlikowske’s Remarks for U.S.-Dominican Republic Mutual Recognition Arrangement
Remarks as prepared for December 7, 2015
I am delighted to be here to co-sign the Mutual Recognition Arrangement with the Dominican Republic, represented by my host and counterpart of the General Customs Administration, Director General Juan Fernando Fernández.
This mutual recognition arrangement, or MRA, solidifies our countries’ collaboration in securing the global supply chain as we partner with companies here in the Dominican Republic, the United States, and dozens of countries from around the world.
This is the United States 11th MRA and the first one with a Caribbean nation. It is also the second MRA CBP has signed with a Latin American country; the first one was signed with Mexico in October 2014. And it builds on the Joint Work Plan we signed in May in Washington, D.C.
Through this MRA, we recognize the compatibility between CBP’s Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, or C-TPAT, and the Dominican Republic’s Authorized Economic Operator program, in both theory and practice.
This is a win-win for our two countries and for the partners in the private sector who have volunteered to participate in this initiative as we work together to expedite and secure cargo and trade between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic.
The United States is the Dominican Republic’s chief export partner – in fact, 52 percent of its exports are destined to U.S. shores.
Our economic partnership is a long and strong one: a decade ago our two countries signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement, and since that time C-TPAT has conducted 91 validation site visits in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic made tremendous strides in building its Authorized Economic Operator Program. This success is reflected in the fact that in about three years, your AEO program has already certified 70 companies, with more than 104 additional companies currently undergoing certification. That’s a remarkable accomplishment that I am sure the trade community in the Dominican Republic recognizes and supports as well.
And, if I may, this accomplishment was recognized by the Customs Administration of South Korea when it decided to sign a mutual recognition arrangement with DR Customs earlier this year.
So, we have a great working relationship, and now is the perfect time to move forward with this MRA.
Now that the MRA has been signed, our technical experts will begin exchanging the information necessary to start implementing the MRA in the first quarter of 2016.
CBP will identify Authorized Economic Operator companies in the Dominican Republic that export to the United States as trusted partners. As such, these companies will undergo fewer inspections, and their cargo will be expedited through U.S. controls.
U.S. exporters who are certified under C-TPAT will receive similar benefits as their goods arrive in the Dominican Republic.
We will continue to work very closely to exchange program information, intelligence, and best practices.
And, General Director Fernandez: we look forward to seeing your AEO staff at our next C-TPAT conference in the United States next year.
I’d like to thank everyone here today for the hard work that has gone into this MRA. Our goal is to work very closely with the regional Authorized Economic Operator programs in Latin America and the Caribbean – and the companies they represent – in order to streamline and secure cargo coming into and leaving the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.