The Commissioner of Customs feels the partnership between his agency and the private sector has done a good job in extending cargo security beyond the borders, but more must be done to streamline the entry and post entry processes as cargo enters U.S. seaports, airports and land border crossings.
The next steps in the evolving partnership between Customs and Border Protection and the trade community will involve greater cooperation among the many government agencies involved in the clearance of cargo, and providing the trade with a single window through which they can communicate with all of those agencies.
"This will be the key to harmonizing CBP's relationship with you and with the other government agencies," Commissioner of Customs Alan Bersin told the annual conference of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America Monday in Phoenix.
By The Numbers: U.S. Foreign Trade
CBP, since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has established a number of programs such as the Container Security Initiative, advance cargo manifest filing and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism that have pushed the U.S. security borders overseas. Those programs have been successful because they were carried out in partnership with the private sector, Bersin said.
However, when the cargo passes through ports, airports and border crossings at home, the processes in place today delay trade and cost U.S. companies money. Making the entry process and post-entry documentation filing more efficient could reduce the cost of the transaction by 10 to 15 percent, which would make U.S. companies more competitive in the global marketplace, Bersin said.
Some 48 federal government agencies potentially have a say in how cargo is released, but communication among these agencies is infrequent at best. CBP, as the lead agency for trade security and cargo clearance, wants at least the key eight to 10 agencies most involved in cargo clearance to meet regularly and provide a single portal through which the trade community can reach the government.
The International Trade Data System that Customs is developing as part of its Automated Commercial Environment will provide that window. At the same time, Customs is working to provide greater consistency in its treatment of cargo at the 326 seaports, airports and border crossings that collectively comprise the U.S. ports of entry. "You should see one CBP and one government," Bersin said.
Customs' goal in these endeavors is to facilitate the movement of legitimate trade while at the same time improving its national security efforts. "Only by expediting legitimate traffic can we raise the level of security, and this can be done only with the help of brokers and forwarders," he said.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.