Commissioner Shares Trade Vision at CBP Conference
The message was resoundingly clear when U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin greeted attendees at the opening of CBP's fourth, national Trade Conference in Arlington, Va., today. Trade is an integral part of CBP's mission of keeping America safe and strong.
The Commissioner presented audience members with two propositions to consider. The first -- "Trade is key to the national prosperity and economic competitiveness of our country," he said. "We cannot see trade and security as being opposed to one another. We cannot see the job of field operations as being divorced from the national security requirements of economic competitiveness and national economic prosperity."
His second proposition addressed facilitation. "Securing flows of people and passengers and cargo and things is key to the success of CBP's integrated mission," said Bersin. "Our function is to keep dangerous people and dangerous things away from our homeland. We need to do that in terms of time. The earlier we discover things that we want to identify as being risky, the better off we are, and the further away from our physical boundaries, the better off our people will be as well."
The four-day conference, held from June 22-25, will bring nearly 200 CBP trade policy makers and field managers together to openly discuss new and changing policies as well as the agency's trade vision for the future. Hosted by CBP's Office of International Trade, the conference, entitled "One CBP: Enhancing the Trade Mission through Modernization, Enforcement, and Collaboration," will focus on CBP's strategic goals for trade enforcement and facilitation as well as modernization and collaboration efforts that support the trade mission.
"For CBP to function as an effective and uniform agency, it's very important to bring our field personnel who implement our policies together with our policy makers," said CBP's Assistant Commissioner of the Office of International Trade Dan Baldwin. "We need to make sure that we're all talking with each other about various issues and exchanging ideas," he said. "There's no better way to do that than to bring everyone together so that they can hear the same messages, have the same dialogue, and understand the same issues at the same time."
Nearly half of the attendees are directors and assistant directors who work at CBP's field offices and ports from around the country. The value of our field personnel coming to Washington for the conference is critical. "Having the opportunity to hear Commissioner Bersin lay out his views, policies, and vision on how we need to move forward cannot be replaced by memos, letters, and emails," said Baldwin. "The Commissioner's remarks this morning reverberated much stronger than any kind of e-mail message ever could."
More than 30 presentations and work-group discussions will be featured during the four-day event. These will include discussions on the direction of CBP's trade strategy; new legislation, rulings and regulations; interactions with other government agencies and interagency requirements; specific facilitation and enforcement-related issues; and the newest developments pertaining to the Automated Commercial Environment also known as ACE.
"There are a lot of new things happening," said CBP's Assistant Commissioner of Field Operations Thomas Winkowski. "There are a lot of new policies that have been coming out and this conference will give our managers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with individuals at headquarters to ask questions and clarify policies that in some cases are difficult to implement. Oftentimes, phone calls, emails and conference calls aren't sufficient."
One of the most groundbreaking presentations at this year's conference is on CBP's "Five-Year Strategy for Intellectual Property Enforcement." An initial internal rollout of the strategy was given today in advance of a public announcement that will be made by the agency later this summer. CBP also has been working with the White House on a joint strategic plan to combat intellectual property theft that was announced today by Vice President Biden.
On Friday, June 25, the final day of the conference, CBP will host its first "Trade Day." Members from the trade community will discuss importing and exporting from a small business perspective and improving trade facilitation from the industry's point of view. "We frequently have CBP officials attend large gatherings with the trade community to tell them about CBP issues as well as hear their views," said Kim Marsho, CBP's director of trade relations. "But this event is unique in that we will have a large audience of CBP headquarters and field personnel being addressed by trade folks who will present to us their perspectives on what CBP should consider doing differently."
CBP's last trade conference was held in 2008. "It's been awhile since we've had a good trade conference like this," said Baldwin. "This is a time for us to reengage, check back-in, and really make sure that we're accentuating the fact that trade is, in fact, a priority mission for this agency.
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.