Deputy Commissioner Winkowski Addresses U.S.-Mexico Trade Flow, Competitiveness at Council of the Americas Meeting in Laredo
Deputy Commissioner Thomas S. Winkowski explained CBP's role in facilitating lawful trade through risk segregation and redefining our borders during a roundtable meeting on U.S.-Mexico competitiveness hosted in Laredo by the Council of the Americas.
The roundtable meeting featured introductory comments on getting the border right from diplomatic leaders of both countries: E. Anthony Wayne, U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Arturo Sarukhán, Mexican Ambassador to the U.S.
Sarukhán stressed the notion of advancing the issues of prosperity and security at the same time. If we do just one, we are going to fail, Sarukhán said.
He also noted that the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or (TPP) which is a major next step in international trade and modernizes NAFTA through the back door without having to re-negotiate the agreement.
Wayne echoed Sarukhán noting that the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a trade agreement would bring a new level of benefit and would set the standard for the rest of the world.
Next the meeting evolved into a group discussion moderated by John Negroponte, former U.S. Ambassador to multiple nations and currently the Chairman of the Council of the Americas, regarding building a better border. The discussion focused on ensuring the flow of commerce while maintaining the necessary border security.
During the panel discussion, Deputy Commissioner Winkowski emphasized redefining our borders, trade transformation and looking at better ways to finance infrastructure.
"To be competitive we need to reduce transaction costs. To do that we need to do a better job at risk segregation," Winkowski said.
The Deputy Commissioner noted the finite amount of budget resources and noted that the agency needs to look at better ways of building infrastructure, including sharing the costs with the private sector.
Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez from the North American Development Bank picked up on this concept and noted that the private sector could assist with funding by prioritizing and identifying infrastructure development projects that could provide a revenue source.
Deputy Commissioner Winkowski spoke of transforming the way CBP does business, pushing the borders outward, taking what CBP is doing in the Beyond the Borders concept in Canada and applying it to the Southern Border.
Speaking in the same vein, Alfredo Gutierrez Ortiz Mena, Commissioner of Internal Revenue and Customs for the Government of Mexico, spoke of an eventual single entry concept which would apply to both trade and travel. The traveler would fill out one declaration and be asked the admissibility questions only once that would apply to both CBP and Mexican Customs. By the same token there would be single commercial entry document using the same data set at a single window to transact the entry with both governments in a one-stop shopping, single review concept and the truck would be opened only once. Work is already progressing to accomplish this in the rail environment.
During Deputy Commissioner Winkowski's visit to Laredo, he met with the Unified Executive Command for the South Texas Campaign and received a briefing on current efforts to disrupt and degrade the ability of transnational criminal organizations to operate within the South Texas corridor.
He also toured the alien processing center at Laredo North Border Patrol Station and the Office of Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures' centralized storage facility for the storage of non-narcotic general seized merchandise for a 12-state region. In addition, he toured a model pre-clearance pilot site which would involve Mexican Customs at Laredo International Airport.
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.