Customs and Border Protection should stop looking at security and trade facilitation as a balancing act between opposites but see them as an integrated whole, Commissioner Alan Bersin told a conference of Customs officials Tuesday morning.
“Trade and security are not opposites, but two sides of a single coin. We are not in a position where we have to balance the two,” Bersin said. “Trade is the key to the economic prosperity in the U.S., and securing the flow of people and cargo is Customs’ integrated mission.”
“Securing flows of people and cargo is part and parcel of our job of protecting the homeland and its economic prosperity,” Bersin said. “We can expedite the movement of people and cargo about whom we know something, and concentrate our resources on things we know little about.”
Customs also must coordinate its approach to the trade community, and provide benefits that will lower transaction costs for importers, and increase the country’s economic competitiveness.
Bersin said the same principles apply to the agency’s partners within the federal government. That includes strengthening its partnership with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. He also called for improved relations with the Food and Drug Administration.
He acknowledged tensions between Customs and FDA, but Bersin said it’s time to build confidence and move forward. He said it was time to stop trying to fix blame and work together to solve the problems.
-- Contact R.G. Edmonson at firstname.lastname@example.org.