Trusted Trade, Automation among Topics of Trade Roundtables
Account management, trusted trade programs and automation led the field of Customs and Border Protection successes and challenges addressed by trade stakeholders, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin and other CBP leaders during a series of roundtable trade discussions at agency headquarters yesterday.
Bersin characterized CBP's overarching trade challenge as transforming "systems geared to a world that no longer exists," he said to the private sector trade representatives. "We need your help in identifying the changes to be made."
CBP's account management program generated interest among many of the trade stakeholders. Cisco Senior Manager of International Trade and Energy Policy Jennifer Sanford, one of the participants from the U.S. Council for International Business, praised CBP's Account Executive pilot program and suggested scaling the program to meet nationwide needs. Representatives from the National Retail Federation added their support for CBP's account management initiatives, underscoring the need for a more holistic approach to cargo clearance.
Strengthening and increasing membership in CBP's trusted trade program, the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, was high on the to-do list for many of the trade stakeholders as one key to a more efficient border. Members of the new U.S.-Canadian business organization, Businesses for a Better Border-known as B3-praised the program. They noted that working together to address the remaining "inconsistencies" would "improve competitiveness," said Mark A. Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association.
Despite C-TPAT's successes in expediting clearance, many of the trade representatives discussed difficulties that remain when dealing with other U.S. agencies at the ports of entry. To figure out how to align all of the information needs of all federal partners, Bersin proposed establishing a private sector committee to advise the Border Interagency Executive Council.
The stakeholders voiced support for full funding of CBP's new Automated Commercial Environment system now in development. Bersin emphasized that "CBP is very serious about ACE," the electronic system being created to serve as a single portal for trade activity. "We need technology to move the traffic." Representatives from the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones asked that processes specific to foreign trade zones need to be included in the ACE design. Bersin agreed, and added that the special requirements of foreign trade zones may need special automated tools. He proposed a CBP-industry working group to address those particular needs.
- Susan Holliday
CBP Public Affairs
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.