Summer is supposed to be a slow time in Washington, DC, but it’s been another busy season at the Office of Trade! On July 31, we celebrated the 234th anniversary of the U.S. Customs Service. Much has changed since the founding of the U.S. Customs Service in 1789 and in the 20 years since CBP was established, technology and trade have evolved dramatically.
With 234 years of history in our rear-view mirror, we’re focused on finding innovative ways to tackle modern challenges – like partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to educate consumers through public awareness campaign efforts on the dangers of counterfeit goods and working with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to address issues of gender equity in the customs space.
Another challenge we’re working to address is the growing threat of climate change to U.S. economic security and national security. In June 2022, CBP launched its Green Trade Strategy to address and mitigate the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation as they relate to the trade mission, and this remains an ever-evolving effort. Last month, we hosted the Green Trade Innovation and Incentives Forum, which kickstarted some great conversations about the ways CBP and industry can work together to confront this challenge.
This month’s Trade News Snapshot shines a light on just a few things we’re doing to ensure the 235th year of the Customs legacy is a positive and productive one!
~ Executive Assistant Commissioner AnnMarie R. Highsmith
- EAC's Message
- I. Office of Trade Activity
- II. News You Can Use
- Trade Statistics
On July 31, CBP celebrated the 234th anniversary of the U.S. Customs Service with a panel of former and current CBP leadership including former CBP Commissioners Alan Bersin and Kevin McAleenan, former CBP Deputy Commissioner, Robert Perez, the Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner (SOPDOC) Troy Miller, and EAC Highsmith. The celebration honored the legacy of this historic agency while looking towards the future of CBP’s trade mission.
CBP’s trade facilitation and enforcement activities have evolved dramatically since the agency was established 20 years ago, as global trade networks have become increasingly expansive, necessitating robust trade policies and initiatives that address unprecedented threats to U.S. national security.
Panelists during the 234th anniversary celebration event agreed that trade is at the heart of economic and national security. They also discussed interagency partnerships and other collaborations upon which CBP has relied for success. These partnerships include work with the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee and the World Customs Organization, both of which have helped to amplify the impact of the agency’s efforts. “We are only able to respond at the speed and volume necessary if we collaborate with our trade partners,” noted EAC Highsmith.
Panelists also discussed current projects and looked ahead to future initiatives that will help the Office of Trade meet the challenges of the evolving trade environment. Panelists agreed that harnessing technology, such as automation and artificial intelligence, is becoming increasingly important in our efforts to unify and increase the efficiency of CBP’s activities. They also emphasized the importance of modernizing trade statutes through the 21st Century Customs Framework (21CCF), which aims to increase transparency and accountability in the supply chain and enable the swift and secure movement of legitimate goods.
EAC Highsmith highlighted the significance of advancing CBP’s enforcement activities far beyond U.S. ports of entry. If CBP stops illegal timber harvested in the Amazon at a U.S. port of entry, that doesn’t reverse the environmental degradation that has already taken place. If the agency stops goods made with forced labor at the border, those goods may not make it into the U.S., but that doesn’t address the root cause of the issue; someone was forced against their will to make it. CBP’s goal is to prevent these crimes from occurring in the first place, and not simply to stop their byproducts from making their way onto store shelves and into American homes. After all, once an illicit item reaches the U.S. border, much of the damage has already been done.
“Economic security is national security,” said SOPDOC Miller, emphasizing the agency’s commitment to its trade portfolio.
On July 11, CBP hosted the Green Trade Innovation and Incentives Forum, convening key government officials and industry leaders to share ideas related to the promotion and incentivization of clean and sustainable supply chains and trade decarbonization, as well as related research, technology, and innovation.
The event took place at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia, an appropriate setting to reflect on the role that past inventions have played in transforming international trade connectivity and efficiency. More than 200 people attended in person, with over 750 others joining virtually. Attendees represented more than 150 companies, 35 countries, and 30 government agencies. Speakers from government and industry covered a wide range of topics, including the critical nexus between climate change, environmental stewardship, economic growth and innovation, and trade policy and processes.
“With the Green Trade Strategy, CBP is setting an example for customs authorities around the world to develop greater standards for global trade and collaborate with industry, stakeholder stakeholders and the public,” said SOPDOC Miller. “Together, we will develop higher global standards for green trade to create a sustainable future that withstands climate change.”
The forum generated an engaging conversation regarding sustainability and government’s role in removing barriers and adding value to existing efforts in green trade. Speakers from industry detailed the ways their organizations are working with business and supply chain partners to reduce emissions, protect natural resources, and generate innovative and sustainable solutions.
One notable event during the forum was the robust public comment session that responded to CBP’s call for comments on Green Trade themes: innovation, incentives, and data as a strategic asset. Participants put forward a number of suggestions during the event, including pursuing operational changes to reduce paperwork and carbon emissions during the flow of trade and removing barriers and creating incentives for sustainably made and recycled-content goods.
CBP will work to integrate these, and other ideas, into its near-term and long-term goals, exploring a range of policy, regulatory, and operational changes that could further incentivize green trade and enhance green innovation efforts. CBP also plans to convene future engagements with industry partners, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and international governing bodies to delve more deeply into those policy recommendations and solicit additional ideas and perspectives.
“The Forum provided the space for our partners to encourage each other and, we hope, provided sparks of ingenuity that will help move the needle on these issues on a global scale,” said EAC Highsmith. “CBP is working to build a community between the private and public sector, environmental organizations, and academia, to really examine where climate change and trade intersect.”
August is the season for back-to-school shopping. As American parents prepare to visit both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers, CBP is teaming up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to educate the public about the risks posed by counterfeit goods and how to identify and avoid them with Five Tips to Shop Smart.
All too often, what appears, at first glance, to be a great deal turns out to be a fake, and sometimes a dangerous one at that. Counterfeit goods not only violate intellectual property rights laws, robbing hard earned profits from legitimate businesses, they can also pose serious health and safety risks, such as clothing and backpacks made with harmful chemicals or unsafe levels of lead, defective bicycle helmets, and faulty electronic devices.
In Fiscal Year 2022, CBP seized nearly 25 million counterfeit goods. These fakes include many back-to-school staples like electronics, footwear, school supplies, and clothing. If genuine, they would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of nearly $3 billion.
“Counterfeit goods marketed towards our children pose a serious danger to their health and wellbeing,” said Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner for CBP’s Office of Trade, John P. Leonard. “As a father, I don’t want my kids carrying backpacks or lunchboxes with high levels of lead in their zippers – that’s the type of risk we’re talking about here.”
DALLAS, SHREVEPORT, La, and LOUISVILLE, Ky. - July was another hot month for CBP's ongoing battle against counterfeit goods. Throughout the month, CBP seized large shipments of fake luxury items worth millions of dollars at multiple ports of entry.
In July, CBP seized shipments of five counterfeit Richard Mille luxury watches as well as various jewelry, phone cases, watch bands, designer clothing, and purses and wallets bearing the logos of Versace, Bvlgari, Rolex, Christian Dior, Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Mark Jacobs. Most of these goods originated from Hong Kong and were destined for addresses throughout the United States. Had the luxury items been genuine, they would have been valued at over $4.7 million. Officers examined the merchandise and determined these products to be inauthentic, infringing on the designers’ intellectual property rights.
On a typical day in Fiscal Year 2022, CBP seized $8 million worth of products like these with intellectual property rights violations. By stopping these counterfeit goods, CBP prevented significant financial losses to legitimate businesses and disrupted the funding of illegal activities.
PHILADELPHIA - CBP officers in Philadelphia seized two unique shipments coming from the United Kingdom for violating U.S. wildlife and import laws. One shipment contained six taxidermied birds, and the other had 20 horned mammal skulls.
The taxidermied birds were determined to be in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as it is unlawful to kill, sell, possess, import, export or otherwise trade in listed species of migratory birds without prior government authorization. The horned skulls were seized due to violations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the Lacey Act, which regulate wildlife trade and protect endangered species. CBP officers, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, intercepted both shipments and launched investigations, which remain ongoing.
Illegal wildlife trade is the leading cause of species being pushed to extinction and is estimated to be worth billions of dollars globally. The seized wildlife are just a few of the many illicit products for which CBP personnel screen international travelers and cargo on a daily basis.
In June 2023, CBP processed more than 3.1 million entry summaries valued at more than $278 billion, identifying estimated duties of nearly $7 billion to be collected by the U.S. government. Trade via the ocean environment accounted for more than 39.5% of the total import value, followed by air, truck and rail.
CBP continues to lead U.S. government efforts to prevent goods made with forced labor from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region from entering the U.S. commerce and combatting systemic abuse of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the People’s Republic of China. Since the agency began implementing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act on June 21, 2022, CBP has reviewed a total of almost 4,300 shipments valued at nearly $1.4 billion. In June 2023, CBP stopped 405 shipments valued at more than $239 million for further examination based on the suspected use of forced labor.
Intellectual property rights violations continue to put America’s innovation economy at risk. Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods threaten the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, the livelihoods of American workers, and the health and safety of consumers. In June, CBP seized 1,709 shipments that contained counterfeit goods valued at more than $120 million.