Securing and facilitating international trade will continue as a mission priority for Customs and Border Protection, emphasized CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski at a Washington, D.C., meeting today of the National Association of Foreign-Trade Zones.
"If we're going to be successful, we need to have industry on our side," said Winkowski.
The close relationship between CBP and its trade partners has been critical to recent CBP trade innovations. Cargo bombs discovered on flights from Yemen in 2010 exposed the vulnerability of air cargo. The federal government and air cargo industry worked together to find a solution and quickly developed the Air Cargo Advanced Screening pilot program, a way to screen cargo without disrupting air shipments. "This is a great example of how government and industry can come together and co-create a system," said Winkowski.
The deputy commissioner credited the private sector with the idea for CBP's Centers for Excellence and Expertise. The agency currently runs two centers-one in New York dealing with pharmaceuticals and one in Los Angeles handling electronics. The centers aid the government in understanding the needs and processes of industry and vice versa, foregoing a one-size-fits-all approach and offering simplified, expedited entry and clearance processes most appropriate for particular cargo.
"Our job in government is to face commercial reality," said Winkowski, "seeing how business systems work and complementing those systems."
Harmonizing systems among government agencies to smooth interactions between the private and public sectors is another CBP priority, said Winkowski. The Border Interagency Executive Council created a "framework to effect change," he said, "to ensure that work gets done with everyone in government on the same sheet of music."
"At the end of the day, it's all about reducing transaction costs and remaining competitive," said Winkowski to the business audience. "At CBP, we want to lead the way, and we want to lead the way with you."