Napolitano Kicks Off CBP Trade Symposium; New Import Centers Announced
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today opened U.S. Customs and Border Protection's 2012 East Coast Trade Symposium by stressing the critical role trade plays in supporting the nation's economic health.
Homeland security is not just about protection from those who would do harm or break U.S. laws, Napolitano said, but also must support trade that is "inextricably linked with the ability to have jobs and help with the economy. This year, CBP will facilitate about $2 trillion in trade while enforcing U.S. trade laws that protect the American people."
Napolitano spoke before a gathering of approximately 900 attendees both at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., and through a webcast. The symposium had been scheduled for October but was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.
In his introductory remarks, CBP Deputy Commissioner David V. Aguilar discussed progress in transforming and modernizing CBP trade processing. Aguilar told the group that he believed much progress has been made in making U.S. trade administration more streamlined, coordinated, nimble, sophisticated and effective.
One development making this possible, Aguilar said, is the Centers of Excellence and Expertise launched last year. These centers provide industry-specific capabilities on a national scale, led by personnel at a key location. Current active centers focus on electronics, pharmaceuticals, automotive and aerospace, and petroleum, natural gas and minerals.
Aguilar called the centers "the centerpiece of our trade process transformation" and announced six new centers planned for 2013:
- Agriculture and prepared products, based in Miami;
- Apparel, footwear and textiles, San Francisco;
- Base metals, Chicago;
- Consumer products and mass merchandising, Atlanta;
- Industrial and manufacturing materials, Buffalo; and
- Machinery, Laredo, Texas.
During the morning session of the first of the 1-1/2-day symposium, Aguilar also introduced Mitsuaka Inagaki, the director-general, Customs and Tariff Bureau, Japan Ministry of Finance, who spoke via a video message. The two men described the full realization of a trusted-trader partnership between the two nations, mutual recognition of each nation's supply chain security measures. This relationship, Aguilar said, not only promises to provide immediate benefits for streamlining trade between the two countries, but also allows CBP's trusted trader program, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, to expand member benefits to the export realm.
Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's trade subcommittee, provided luncheon remarks.
Day two will feature breakout sessions and a concluding CBP leadership town hall.
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.