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Remarks of Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan at Press Event Marking Release of CBP’s Trade and Travel Fiscal Year 2017 Report

Release Date: 
February 13, 2018

Location: John F. Kennedy International Airport

Thank you, Leon, and thank you all for being here today. Before I get started, I’d like to recognize several special guests. First, John Selden, Deputy General Manager of JFK Airport. We appreciate your partnership. I would also like to thank Gert-Jan de Graaf, President and CEO of JFK-IAT, for his input and wise counsel over the past three years. He really embodies the spirit of partnership and cooperation. I want to congratulate Gert-Jan as he gets ready to head to Australia take the top job at Brisbane Airport.

The men and women of CBP serve on the nation’s borders to protect the American people and enforce our nation’s laws while facilitating the international movement of travelers and goods so vital to our economy.

CBP officers, agriculture, and trade specialists, scientists, technicians, and support personnel operate at 328 air, land and sea ports of entry

Each day these professionals confront national security threats, visa fraud, smuggling, human trafficking, counterfeit and hazardous products, threats to agriculture, and violations of our anti-dumping and duty laws.

In December, we published our Fiscal Year 2017 Border Security Report, detailing the year’s border enforcement actions, including national security threats, immigration, criminal arrests, and drug seizures.

Those drug seizures unfortunately include increasing amounts of opioids like fentanyl – especially at international mail facilities – and we are committed to intercepting these dangerous substances before they can get into our communities.

Today, I want to report on our travel and trade facilitation and enforcement efforts. The CBP Trade and Travel Fiscal Year 2017 Report clearly shows just how much CBP does, each and every day, to secure our nation – even in the face of record-breaking volumes. 

Travel and tourism is a critical sector of our economy, so it is vital that CBP make each arrival as seamless and secure as possible. Efficiency and security are just as important on the trade side of our mission, because what we do – in screening and inspecting cargo – forms the foundation of a strong economy while protecting the public—especially in the age of direct to consumer shipping.

In terms of our travel mission, every day, more than a million people arrive at our 328 U.S. ports of entry by air, land, and sea. In FY17, that translated to more than 397 million international travelers, including almost 125 million arriving via air—and a record 16.4 million right here at JFK, our busiest international destination in the country.

And every single one has to be checked – quickly and efficiently – to ensure they are admissible to the United States.

That’s a daunting task, especially given the fact that international air travel to the U.S. has steadily increased since FY 2009.

In fact, international air travel to the United States jumped by another 4.2 percent last year, an eighth straight year of “4-percent-plus” increases. This growth has challenged CBP to work not only harder, but smarter.

How are we doing that?  With an integrated, comprehensive strategy, of partnering with travelers, airports, and carriers, and accelerated adoption of new technologies. We have been relentless in incorporating innovations into our operations.

With the growth in international travel, at CBP, we have made it our goal to transform the entry process so travelers are handling less paper and getting to where they are going faster.

The best example of this is CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs. As of today, CBP has more than 7 million Trusted Travelers. Our flagship, of course, is Global Entry. GE now has more than 5 million members, in the wake of adding 1.4 million new members in FY17.  GE kiosks are available at 64 U.S. airports and 8 Preclearance locations. 

We have also adopted technology to simplify and speed processing, including Automated Passport Control kiosks and Mobile Passport Control apps on your devices.

More than 56 million travelers used touch-screen APC kiosks in FY17 (more than 40 percent of all arriving air travelers). APC is now available at 57 locations (all major U.S. airports and 12 Preclearance locations) – and we recently rolled it out on the ferry between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, MPC usage tripled last year to more than 2 million trips processed, and the program, where you can confirm your arrival and declare goods on you mobile device, continues to grow.

Our Preclearance program is also instrumental in facilitating lawful travel, while pushing our zone of security outward.  In FY 2017, we precleared more than 19 million travelers. That’s 16 percent of all inbound commercial air travel.

We are also partnering with airports and carriers around the country to enhance service levels—right when the traffic demands it—through Reimbursable Services Agreements.

While all of these programs make an impact, I am confident that our processes will be increasingly seamless—thanks to advances in biometrics and specifically facial recognition.

Facial comparison technology has the potential to automate the travel document checking process by eliminating the need for a boarding pass and identity document and accelerating processing through CBP and beyond.

This will allow us to reinvent and enhance security effectiveness to meet evolving threats, and ensure that travelers get to their destinations safely—all while making the traveler experience increasingly frictionless.

Thanks to biometrics, in partnerships with leading airports, we are managing ever-increasing volumes of travel to make the “curb-to-gate” journey as seamless and as consistent as possible.

Turning to the trade portion of our mission, approximately $11 billion worth of international trade crosses our border every year. An efficient, secure supply chain is imperative for a healthy economy, and CBP is committed to its dual role of facilitating lawful trade while protecting revenue.

In fact, CBP collected more than $40.1 billion in duties, taxes, and other fees in FY17.

As with travel, cargo volumes are up – particularly with the rise in electronic commerce shipments. Moreover, just as we do in the travel arena, we are taking tremendous strides in streamlining our processes without sacrificing one ounce of security.

CBP processed $2.39 trillion in imports in FY2017, equating to more than 28.5 million imported cargo containers at U.S. ports of entry – up by approximately 5 percent from FY2016.

As we approach the second anniversary of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, we are protecting Americans from counterfeit products and unsafe imports. In addition, we are protecting our domestic industries by denying entry to imports made with forced labor, and by enforcing anti-dumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) regulations.

CBP also continued to modernize trade systems through the Single Window of the Automated Commercial Environment, or ACE. ACE is the primary way the trade community reports import and export activity to the Federal government.

Streamlined processes in ACE have enabled processing efficiencies valued at an estimated $28 million for CBP and an estimated $52 million for industry in FY2017.

I mentioned electronic commerce earlier – and that has been a tectonic shift, not just in the everyday lives of American consumers but also for CBP. Driven by E-commerce, air cargo volumes are way up, with global air freight traffic climbing by nearly eight percent year-over-year in November, the start of the peak shipping season.

Express cargo shipments in general, meanwhile, have increased by a massive 15 percent over last year – from 96 million bills to 110 million in fiscal year 2017. And mail parcels growing even faster.

We are working hard to keep pace.

For example, CBP established the E-Commerce and Small Business Branch in our Office of Trade. This unit is developing strategic goals and objectives to position CBP to better address the challenges in the e-commerce environment now and into the future.

Electronic commerce is also behind the significant rise in opioids. Opioids accounted for 66 percent of the 63,000 deaths from drug overdoses in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here at JFK, CBP seized 116 shipments of fentanyl so far in Fiscal Year 2018 – compared to 86 seizures in all of Fiscal Year 2017. 

We are doing everything we can to combat the flow of these dangerous drugs – including training all of our narcotics canines who work in express consignment and international mail facilities to detect fentanyl, and pursuing technology to enhance our testing capabilities, including right here at JFK, thanks in part to the Interdict Act.

In closing, I am incredibly proud of our employees.  These men and women are the first line of defense for our country’s national and economic security. CBP is that “first contact” for all incoming travelers and cargo – and that is a tremendous responsibility.  We are committed to constant improvement, as the Trade and Travel Report reflects.

Thank you, and now I am happy to take a few questions.

Last modified: 
February 13, 2018