U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s long-running Air Cargo Advance Screening pilot has put the agency “in a great position to address e-commerce and its implications for smaller cargo,” Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan told attendees at CBP’s East Coast Trade Symposium Dec. 2. McAleenan, who will head CBP on an interim basis after Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske steps down in January 2017, said that regulations to make ACAS permanent should be finalized soon.


E-commerce has “dramatically impacted” both CBP and the trade community, McAleenan said. It allows many medium, small, and “nano” sized businesses to participate in global trade, but it also requires CBP to screen an increasing number of individual parcels for drugs, weapons, cash, intellectual property rights violations, and more. While this “new level of complexity” presents challenges in terms of assessing risk, targeting, and facilitating the movement of goods, McAleenan said CBP believes its experience with the “highly successful” ACAS pilot “positions us to meet this challenge head on.”

Under ACAS, participants (including express carriers, passenger carriers, heavy all-cargo carriers, and freight forwarders) submit a subset of the required advance air cargo data to CBP at the earliest point practicable prior to loading of the cargo onto the aircraft destined to or transiting through the U.S. Participants must also mitigate any threat identified by the National Targeting Center, respond promptly with complete and accurate information when contacted by the NTC with questions regarding the data submitted, and follow any “do not load” instructions. McAleenan said the advance information provided under ACAS “allows CBP to assess risk and make better decisions regarding the movement of goods without slowing down air cargo.”

The ACAS pilot has been extended several times, most recently through July 26, 2017, but CBP has also been working on a proposed rule that would amend its regulations to make ACAS permanent. McAleenan told the symposium that CBP is “just about finished with the development of the new proposed regulations” and that the proposal “will begin to work its way through the multilayered approval process this month.”

Another measure CBP has taken recently to address e-commerce is establishing the E-Commerce and Small Business Branch within its Office of Trade, which will be particularly focused on identifying inferior and unsafe goods and preventing them from entering global commerce.

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