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Commissioner Urges Joint Vetting, Targeting by Asia-Pacific Partners

Release Date: 
March 3, 2011

To address the worldwide customs challenges of the next 50 years and beyond, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin today called on the economies of the Asia-Pacific region to consider the creation of common vetting and validation procedures for trusted traffic and a joint targeting center, to share information "without jeopardizing our national security or our trade secrets."

Commissioner Bersin addresses the first joint meeting of the APEC Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures and the APEC Business Mobility Group.

Commissioner Bersin addresses the first joint meeting of the APEC Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures and the APEC Business Mobility Group.

Photo Credit:Donna Burton

"We need to develop a regime and a set of standards for mutual recognition," said Bersin in his opening comments to representatives at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures meeting in Washington, D.C.

To integrate the customs inspection and security functions, Bersin said that APEC needs to expand its authorized economic operator program, or AEO, which secures the supply chain of international shippers. APEC would benefit by creating "a set of common standards for AEOs, then recognizing each others programs and vetting processes."

Bersin acknowledged that the idea is "ahead of its time," but urged the APEC customs subcommittee to move toward "a common vetting procedure with an APEC vetting and validation group."

His second far-seeing idea for "joint targeting of dangerous cargos" would involve sharing data about shippers and cargo. "I'm not talking about classified information or intelligence information," said Bersin. "Much of the information about cargo and shippers and importers is actually not secret, but can be shared among many parties in a way that would leverage the power of one customs service off another."

In doing so, "We could deal with many of the problems that afflict us individually," said Bersin. "Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, unsafe products-maters that affect all of our peoples."

For the short term, the Pacific region will benefit from "robust free trade" and expanded free trade areas, said Bersin, in large part due to the good work of APEC and the fact that the 21 APEC countries produce 60 percent of the world's gross domestic product and account for 44 percent of global trade.

Bersin praised the agenda for APEC customs subcommittee's meeting, which will focus on improved ways to expedite the movement the lawful international traffic and remove the chokepoints in the process.

Today's speech followed the commissioner's address yesterday to the first-ever joint meeting of the APEC Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures and the APEC Business Mobility Group.

Representatives from the APEC economies are meeting in Washington, D.C., through March 12.

Last modified: 
February 8, 2017