U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced recently an updated strategic plan covering the next five years. CBP states that this strategy includes (1) a new vision statement focused on enhancing national security that reflects CBP’s position as “the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency,” (2) a new mission statement centered on protecting the American people, safeguarding U.S. borders, and enhancing domestic economic prosperity, and (3) new “enduring mission priorities” of facilitating lawful trade and travel, protecting revenue, countering terrorism, combating transnational crime, and securing U.S. borders. The strategy also continues to prioritize 12 objectives, including secure and compliant trade.

CBP cites a number of accomplishments with respect to these objectives since the release of its initial strategy in May 2019, including (1) implementing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, (2) launching the CTPAT AQUA lane pilot program that has decreased the time to market for imports by vessel, (3) leading the development of the World Customs Organization’s e-commerce data approach and sharing key results from Section 321 and Type 86 tests to inform the E-Commerce Framework of Standards, and (4) completing five interagency trade special operations focusing on small package enforcement.

Going forward, the updated strategy states that “critical and complex challenges” to enhancing trade security and compliance include the growing volume of e-commerce shipments, which are now entering the U.S. via all modes of transportation, and identifying and addressing bad actors across global supply chains, which have transformed in recent decades in ways that make it more difficult to “trace products back to their original source and to pinpoint responsibility across the network of parties involved.”

To address these challenges, CBP plans to focus on the following actions.

- enabling digital, frictionless trade by streamlining administrative processes using new and updated trade agreements and policies and an account-based system

- utilizing risk-based analytics and intelligence-driven enforcement to achieve early identification, deterrence, and disruption of potential trade violations

- creating a new paradigm for trade enforcement of e-commerce in light of emerging trends and expanded authorities

- leveraging new technologies for detection and verification

- optimizing international attaché networks and intelligence capabilities to provide improved situational awareness

- effectively escalating consequence delivery to protect the revenue and bring about secure and compliant trade

To facilitate these measures CBP plans to improve its usage of modern technological tools. For example, the agency will collect and connect quality data (including intelligence and risk assessments) to provide predictive analytics that give agency personnel the relevant information to conduct trade enforcement activities. CBP also intends to significantly expand its usage of next-generation technologies, including data and analytics tools to improve fraud and threat detection and machine learning algorithms to provide proactive trade targeting.

However, CBP is also interested in improving the experiences of its stakeholders, including members of the trade community. CBP states that it has made some significant advancements in this area, including eliminating paper forms and enhancing the Automated Commercial Environment, but that “there is still more work to be done.” CBP therefore plans to collaborate with industry, other government agencies, and non-government organizations to improve the risk assessment process, integrate information sharing, and adopt innovations to streamline the inspection process.

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