Happy New Year! As I reflect on 2023, several noteworthy achievements come to mind. In March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) hosted the Forced Labor Technical Expo, a unique forum for the international trade community to learn about the latest innovations in supply chain technology to help improve trade transparency and compliance. In June, we reached the one-year implementation mark of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). And in July, just over a year after CBP launched its Green Trade Strategy, we hosted the Green Trade Innovation & Incentives Forum, bringing together government and industry to discuss ways we can work together to confront the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Through these engagements as well as many others around the world, we interacted with a variety of stakeholders committed to ensuring a more secure and efficient trade environment for all.
We made enormous strides together on a variety of issues in 2023, but there’s always more to be done. I look forward to the remarkable things we will accomplish in 2024!
~ Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie R. Highsmith
- EAC's Message
- I. Office of Trade Activity
- II. Outreach
- CBP participates in first-ever “Trade Day” at UN Climate Change Conference
- DEAC Leonard discusses IPR enforcement and education efforts at public health symposium
- Eric Choy travels to Thailand to meet government officials and industry groups
- Commerce and CBP bid farewell to Deputy Assistant Secretary Ian Saunders
- III. News You Can Use
- Article 1: CBP updates seafood import restrictions
- Article 2: CBP officers in Memphis intercept state’s first-ever treehopper bugs
- Article 3: CBP shares top five tips to avoid online scams
- Article 4: Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit registration to open January 10
- Article 5: Cincinnati CBP seizes $6.9 million in counterfeit high-end jewelry
- Article 6: Commercial Customs Advisory Committee holds final public meeting of 2023
- Article 7: CBP Dallas discovers harmful stinkbug
- Trade Statistics
In December, CBP added several updates to its Forced Labor and UFLPA webpages to make the pages easier to navigate and provide valuable resources to stakeholders. The new additions included updates to several fact sheets on forced labor, frequently asked questions on UFLPA, best practices for applicability reviews, and more. CBP also published new graphics and links, as well as a new video describing forced labor, and plans to continue exploring multimedia tools to educate a variety of stakeholders on this important issue.
On December 14, more than 100 CBP employees gathered to celebrate the official launch of the Black Men in Leadership Forum (BMLF) in Washington, D.C. The group will advocate for and prepare Black men for leadership positions in the federal government by raising awareness, building advocates and mentors, creating networking opportunities, and coaching candidates in critical job skills. During the event, BMLF founder Deputy Executive Director Adam Jackson of CBP’s Office of Trade and World Customs Organization Secretary General Elect Ian Saunders spoke about the challenges experienced by Black men in the workplace and emphasized the value of diverse backgrounds, talents, and perspectives in achieving the vast mission of the U.S. Government. The launch of the BMLF marks an important stride toward a more diverse and equitable federal government, and the group looks forward to more productive conversations in the future.
From December 2-6, CBP Office of Trade Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie Highsmith and Director of Green Trade Lea-Ann Bigelow joined the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 28, in the United Arab Emirates. During the conference, EAC Highsmith and Director Bigelow worked to advance CBP’s Green Trade Strategy and emphasize the role of customs in mitigating the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation by participating in high-level panels on environmental enforcement, supply chain emissions, circular economy, and other aspects of green trade. They also met with government and non-governmental organization counterparts as well as many of the industry representatives present to foster partnerships focused on accelerating green innovation and improving climate resiliency in customs and trade.
While in the United Arab Emirates, EAC Highsmith also met with partners such as the Emirates Intellectual Property Association and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to discuss shared customs enforcement and border management priorities. The WTO published a new report to coincide with COP 28, “Trade Policy Tools for Climate Action,” which cites CBP’s Unified Cargo Processing and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) Program as programs to emulate in effectively reducing commercial greenhouse gas emissions at the border.
CBP is immensely grateful to our Homeland Security Investigations colleagues at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi for contributing to the overall success of our engagement at COP 28.
On December 1, Office of Trade Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner (DEAC) John Leonard represented CBP at the Johns Hopkins University Symposium on Public Health Strategies for Combating Counterfeit Drugs in Washington, D.C. DEAC Leonard participated in a panel titled “The Global Burden of Counterfeit Drugs,” along with Ms. Pernette Bourdillon-Esteve of the World Health Organization, Mr. Charlie Preston of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Dr. Henry Joseph Michtalik of Johns Hopkins University. During the panel, DEAC Leonard discussed CBP’s three-pronged strategy for protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) – educate, engage, and enforce. DEAC Leonard provided an overview of CBP’s IPR seizures and explained how the agency is addressing challenges posed by the growth of e-commerce and increased access to counterfeit pharmaceuticals. He also discussed the benefits of public-private partnerships – including CBP’s e-Recordation Program and the CBP-U.S. Chamber of Commerce Memorandum of Understanding – and emphasized the importance of consumer awareness efforts such as CBP’s Truth Behind Counterfeit Campaign.
From December 12-16, Office of Trade Executive Director (XD) of Trade Remedy and Law Enforcement Eric Choy traveled to Thailand as part of a CBP team verifying a Thai manufacturer exporting to the United States. While in Thailand, XD Choy met with the Director General of Thailand’s Department of Foreign Trade as well as Thai customs, industry groups, and U.S. Embassy officials to discuss forced labor issues and the Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) investigative process. XD Choy also toured Laem Chabang Port and met with Container Security Initiative personnel.
On December 18, the U.S. Department of Commerce hosted a farewell ceremony for Deputy Assistant Secretary Ian Saunders, who will begin his first five-year term as Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Brussels, Belgium on January 1, 2024. EAC Highsmith joined Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Don Graves, Under Secretary Marisa Lago, and Assistant Secretary Arun Venkataraman in delivering remarks before a crowd of more than 100 U.S. Government officials and external stakeholders. Mr. Saunders was elected to head the WCO in June 2023 following a storied three-decade career with the federal government, including 20 years at CBP. The CBP Office of Trade wishes Mr. Saunders every success as he leads the sole multilateral organization dedicated to the development and implementation of international customs standards, tools, and instruments.
- CBP updates seafood import restrictions
- In support of the Executive Order and the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control determination, CBP will now require importers to provide self-certification that fish, seafood, and seafood containing products imported into the United States do not contain any inputs originating from the Russian Federation.
- CBP officers in Memphis intercept state’s first-ever treehopper bugs
- Laredo CBP, HSI advise shoppers to avoid counterfeit, dubious origin goods during the holidays
- CBP shares top five tips to avoid online scams
- Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit registration to open January 10
- Cincinnati CBP seizes $6.9 million in counterfeit high-end jewelry
- Commercial Customs Advisory Committee holds final public meeting of 2023
- Dallas CBP discovers harmful stinkbug
In November 2023, CBP processed more than 2.7 million entry summaries valued at more than $268 billion, identifying estimated duties of nearly $6 billion to be collected by the U.S. government. Trade via the ocean environment accounted for more than 38 percent of the total import value, followed by air, truck, and rail. CBP stopped 331 entries valued at more than $125 million for further examination based on the suspected use of forced labor, and which may be subject to a Withhold Release Order, Forced Labor Finding, or the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’s rebuttable presumption prohibiting importation into the United States.