When U.S. Customs and Border Protection holds its first-ever West Coast trade symposium Thursday in Long Beach, the message to the trade community will be that Customs is changing its way of doing business to reflect the changes taking place in the global economy.
Customs department heads will update importers, exporters and customs brokers on progress in development of the computer system called the Automated Commercial Environment, and the “one government at the border” effort whose main component is the International Trade Data System. These programs have been under development for more than a decade, and the trade is anxiously awaiting completion of the multi-billion-dollar systems.
Also, Customs will update the West Coast audience on more recent initiatives such as the Centers for Excellence and Expertise, where federal agencies share their expertise on specific commodities, and the private sector in turn educates government representatives as to how their industries work.
Two of nine planned centers have been established. The Long Beach center handles electronics imports, and the New York center specializes in pharmaceuticals. An announcement Thursday on the establishment of two new centers is anticipated.
With these and other initiatives, Customs is telling the trade community that the government is achieving a balance between its trade enforcement responsibilities and the need to facilitate clearance of low-risk cargo in a global economy based on speed and efficiency.
“This is our new vision on how we approach trade. It reflects how the global economy is changing,” said Maria Luisa O’Connell, senior adviser to the Commissioner in the Office of Trade Relations.
CBP has been a leader among government agencies in developing “trusted partner” programs such as the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and Importer Self-Assessment that enlist importers, exporters and customs brokers to leverage the government’s efforts to secure the nation’s borders.
Like most government agencies, Customs is developing its trade initiatives in an environment of fiscal austerity. CBP wants the trade community to know that despite budgetary challenges, the momentum in turning pilot projects into successful programs continues unabated, O’Connell said.