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Commissioners Remarks at the Savannah Business Roundtable World Trade Center, Savannah, Georgia

Release Date: 
December 15, 2016

Remarks as Prepared for Dec. 15, 2016

Thank you, Steve. I want to thank you, CEO Trip Tollison, Director Leigh Ryan, Jessie Dillion and your entire team here at the World Trade Center in Savannah for facilitating this engagement. In addition I also want to recognize and thank Mayor Eddie DeLoach for joining us today.

From CBP, I’d like to recognize Petrina Evans, Assistant Director Trade, Field Operations Atlanta; Lisa Beth Brown, Area Port Director, Savannah; and Lynn Brennan, Assistant Port Director, Savannah.

CBP’s trade mission is twofold: to ensure the integrity and security of our borders and of the global supply chain through effective enforcement, and to facilitate the flow of lawful goods and people in and out of the country.  So, our mission – as the nation’s largest law enforcement agency – is exceptionally broad and complex.

In FY 2015, CBP processed more than $2.4 trillion in trade and collected approximately $46 billion in duties, taxes, and other fees. As we continue to meet these demands, CBP is preparing to meet the growth predicted for the coming years.

So today I want to talk about what we’re doing here in Savannah.

As the fastest growing port in the nation – and the 4th-largest by container volume (3.7M TEUs), the Port of Savannah is vitally important to the region’s economy.

CBP’s Area Port of Savannah – part of our Atlanta Field Office – is responsible for 19 maritime terminals that focus primarily on cargo.

It is also responsible for port activities at the Port of Brunswick. Nearly 4,000 commercial vessels called on Savannah and Brunswick in Fiscal Year 2015, and as these ports have grown, so has CBP’s presence.

One of our most significant accomplishments in facilitating lawful trade is our Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE. ACE is the one portal – the “Single Window” – for transmitting electronic information about imports and exports for 49 agencies, eliminating more than 200 paper forms.

We’re on track to meeting the President’s December deadline for completing the Single Window, with 100 percent of entry summary and cargo release filings being conducted in ACE already. Your input is vital as we develop and implement one of the most complex IT projects the U.S. government has ever seen.

I also want to update you on our remotely-managed Centers of Excellence and Expertise. The Centers focus on industry-specific issues and provide support tailored for that industry or commodity. All 10 Centers now fully operational.

The Centers reduce transaction costs, increase uniformity at the ports, and improve compliance with import laws – and all of this facilitates commerce.

They also strengthen key trade enforcement capabilities, allowing CBP personnel with deep expertise in their relevant industries to better identify and pursue those seeking to avoid our trade laws.

Atlanta is the “home base” for the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center, and it became fully operational in March. And Savannah has 9 out of the 10 Centers represented at the Port.

Turning to the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), in FY15, CBP and ICE seized nearly 29,000 shipments of products containing IPR infringements, worth nearly $1.4 billion. CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise provide tremendous expertise around IPR, and they help direct our enforcement actions.

One example is Operation Rein-in III. This operation, conducted by the Electronics Center and Area Ports of Cleveland and Los Angeles, resulted in seizures of over 200 shipments of IPR infringing consumer electronics. If genuine, the seized items would have been worth a total estimated MSRP of more than $1.4 million.

CBP also pursues IPR enforcement through cooperation with international customs counterparts. CBP audits the business records of high-risk companies and works with them to improve internal controls. And we are addressing a wave of small packages of IPR-infringing goods due to the rise of direct online sales to consumers and small business.

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center), brings together 23 agencies, Interpol, Europol, and the governments of Mexico and Canada in a task force setting. As of August, Savannah’s IPR seizures were up more than 200% over last year. The 75 different seizures are valued at $9.2 million.

CBP also enforces rules and regulations involving anti-dumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD). CBP enforces 328 AD/CVD orders covering around 150 products.

In FY 2015, we collected $1.2 billion in AD/CVD deposits. CBP and ICE seized commodities shipments with a domestic value of more than $5 million for violations of AD/CVD. We remain absolutely committed to working with industry to understand their industries, gather information and intelligence, and better target those that evade AD/CVD laws.

Earlier this year, the White House signed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA). This is one of the most important pieces of trade legislation in a generation. It’s also a major milestone for CBP, as it’s the first authorization of our agency since its creation in 2003.

The new law sends clear signal that economic competiveness and enforcement of our trade laws and regulations is one of the country’s highest priorities. It also supports CBP’s efforts to enforce U.S. trade laws in key areas, including intellectual property rights, anti-dumping/countervailing duty evasion, and forced labor-derived goods.

TFTEA authorizes funding for several critical programs for CBP and lays strong foundation for proceeding with many vital initiatives, including realignment. And it increased the de minimis value for an imported shipment from $200 to $800, saving American importers money, exempting low-value shipments from certain duties and taxes.

But one of the new law’s most vital provisions involves the repeal of consumptive demand loophole. This means that goods made with indentured, convict, child, or other forced labor are no longer allowed into the country just to meet U.S. demand.

This year, I’ve already signed Withhold Release Orders on several shipments from China, involving soda ash, calcium chloride, potassium products, Stevia and its derivatives, and garlic.

Companies must examine their supply chains to understand product sourcing and the labor used to generate their products. You can play a key role in amplifying this message to your own customers.

Savannah has detained 2 shipments since March 2016 because of potential forced labor connections. The first shipment was Stevia (ultimately released) and second was a shipment of Beedies (Indian cigarettes) that was excluded due to violations of Food and Drug Administration labeling requirements.

With 90 percent of the world’s trade now being transported in cargo containers – and nearly half of U.S. imports arriving in maritime containers – we know that our seaport operations are crucial to keeping the engine of our economy running smoothly.

We’ve implemented several programs to help facilitate trade while securing our borders. One of those programs is the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT). C-TPAT helps secure benefits for C-TPAT members across the globe. Today, C-TPAT has more than 11,000 members. It has become the world’s standard, and C-TPAT imports account for about 54 percent (value) of all imports to the U.S. Since 2007, C-TPAT has signed a total of 11 Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRA) with other countries’ similar programs, driving clearer international cargo security standards that keep our economic engine running smoothly. 

Another program is our Container Security Initiative (CSI), which we launched in 2002. Using intelligence and automated data, CBP identifies high-risk cargo and we work with our foreign counterparts to inspect it before it’s loaded onto U.S.-bound vessels. CBP has 60 operational CSI ports, in 35 countries, on six continents.

These CSI ports prescreen more than 80 percent of all maritime containerized cargo imported into the United States. If CBP had to conduct these inspections here in Savannah, importers would have to pay as much as $2,500 per exam.

These costs are considerably lower overseas at CSI ports – and sometimes they are even borne by the host government.

We’ve also automated vessel entrance and clearance forms, which simplifies our collection of maritime entrance and clearance data. This enhances the flexibility of CBP officers, reduces vessel boardings, and increases risk-based enforcements.

This automation will be linked to the Advanced Targeting System, allowing all targeting, vetting, analysis, and processing to be completed in a single application.

The result is a dramatically streamlined process, reducing the resource and time burdens on CBP and on all of you.

In closing, I’d like to thank everyone here at the Savannah World Trade Center for their hospitality. CBP is eager to work with you and your companies to keep lawful cargo moving efficiently and securely – it’s good for Savannah, for the region, and for the American economy.

Last modified: 
February 3, 2021