U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske announced April 8 CBP’s first comprehensive strategic plan in nearly a decade, which he said “outlines how we plan to enhance both our agility and ability to meet increasingly global and increasingly complex challenges.” A CBP press release states that the agency’s “Vision and Strategy 2020” focuses on four goals: combat terrorism and transnational organized crime, advance comprehensive border security and border management, enhance U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel, and promote organizational integration, innovation and agility.
Supply Chain Security. Kerlikowske said CBP “understands the global supply chain system is an interconnected network and will continue to provide leadership in cultivating partnerships to exchange information and intelligence, build capacity, and increase worldwide security and compliance standards.” This approach reflects CBP’s belief that effectively safeguarding U.S. borders requires detailed attention to processes that begin far outside those borders in addition to those that occur at the border.
The strategy indicates that in working to strengthen global supply chain security CBP will employ a layered approach that includes the following.
- strengthening partnerships with foreign governments and the trade community to gain a more accurate picture of threats and trends and enhance its capacity to mitigate systemic vulnerabilities through risk management principles
- expanding the advance shipping information available for commercial and national security targeting, which enables CBP to better identify high-risk shipments for coordinated enforcement of trade laws at international borders
- deploying personnel overseas in operational and advisory roles to screen cargo before it departs for the U.S. and support foreign partners in further developing their own capabilities to secure the global supply chain
- conducting more targeted examinations at U.S. borders
CBP also remains committed to developing and promoting global standards, noting that establishing common processes and procedures as well as increasing mutual recognition and harmonization between countries will enable global supply chain participants to move their legitimate cargo faster and at reduced costs, which in turn will enhance enforcement by focusing limited resources on the cargo representing the highest risk.
Trade Enforcement. CBP states that its trade enforcement efforts seek to better identify, detect and interdict high-risk shipments through collaborative partnerships with the private sector, advanced technology and integrated enforcement capabilities.
CBP seeks to leverage industry knowledge and expertise to enhance the effectiveness of its enforcement actions. Representatives from the private sector work with CBP to identify issues of mutual interest and provide targeting, enforcement and intelligence information. This intelligence can then be applied more uniformly across CBP through reorganized processes that align to industry sectors. This information and intelligence allows CBP to better utilize targeting capabilities, detect bad actors earlier in the supply chain, respond to risks on a real-time basis and anticipate new threats before they fully emerge.
CBP states that automating its risk segmentation and trade processing capabilities will enhance its ability to detect and interdict high-risk cargo faster and earlier in the transit process. Supplemented by trade intelligence from the private sector, these automated systems will be able to automatically adjust to changes in patterns and trends of trade, both inbound and outbound. Furthermore, the advanced analytical capabilities that CBP uses to identify high-risk cargo can also be used to better identify emerging or consistent risks and identify new threats before they fully emerge. CBP is also looking to leverage private-sector innovations, noting that many of the tools and techniques companies use to manage their supply chains can help identify risk indicators that CBP can use to enhance trade enforcement.
Finally, CBP will work to build a seamless network of domestic enforcement agencies “capable of addressing the challenges and complexity of the modern international trade environment” as well as an international network of customs authorities and law enforcement agencies “capable of defeating the global networks of criminals involved in unlawful international trade practices.” Sharing information is the foundation of these partnerships, but CBP is also actively engaged in forming more collaborative relationships by integrating enforcement capabilities through forward deployment of CBP personnel to pre-screen and target cargo in international ports before it departs for the U.S.
Trade Facilitation. The strategy acknowledges the need for “transformative thinking” to provide U.S. businesses with greater predictability and transparency. By automating the collection and dissemination of import and export data, the Automated Commercial Environment will enhance data quality and reduce administrative burdens on both the government and the trade community, thus helping to expedite the flow of legitimate cargo. Centers of Excellence and Expertise will increase the uniformity of practices across CBP ports of entry and align them with modern business practices, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and further strengthen agency knowledge on key industry practices. Trade processing will be organized by account and industry rather than by individual transactions to enhance uniformity and better manage the growing volume of international trade. Trusted trader and traveler programs will be integrated into a whole-of-government approach to more readily identify and enable the flow of low-risk cargo and passengers. CBP will lead efforts to harmonize cargo and passenger processing among trading partners and secure mutual recognition of trusted trader and traveler programs.
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