Report from the CBP Trade Symposium: New Acting CBP Commissioner and focus on e-commerce!

Updated: Dec 29, 2019



The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Trade Symposium took place on July 23-24 in Chicago. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.


With more than 1300 members of the Customs & Global Trade community in attendance to learn about the ever-changing global trade environment. Many took the opportunity to meet Acting CBP Commissioner Mark A. Morgan.


CPB: Facilitation but also enforcement

In his maiden speech in front of Customs Managers and Global Trade professionals, he vowed: “I want to emphasize that CBP is acutely aware of the dual nature of our trade mission: facilitation as well as enforcement. We must focus on both … because a single-minded emphasis on one or the other serves nobody’s interests in the end. In addition, I am committed to listening to you. This commitment is imperative for fostering the kind of collaboration, communication, and transparency that I have touched on here this morning”.


CBP: Collaboration, Communication & Transparency

“I vow that I’m going to work as hard as I can to make sure that CBP continues to be close partners with the trade community,” said Morgan in his opening remarks, “and to seize every opportunity to address the challenges as they arise, and to do so with transparency, communication, and collaboration.”


The challenge of e-commerce




A key focus of this year’s forum was the discussion on e-commerce with more than 1.3 million packages being processed in international mail facilities around the US. How can you stop, inspect, or ensure that over a million packages are compliant? The total volume of packages had increased in all modes of transportation, but especially with express and air cargo buy 134 percent from the same time last year.


E-commerce has become a game changer in the international trade arena. One may argue that it is just another form of trade, but we need to keep pace with the changes it brings to the trade environment and provide innovative solutions to deal with them. Efficiency of clearance and delivery of low value and small parcels is especially crucial. To manage e-commerce transactions, Customs administrations need to engage with all relevant stakeholders with a view to collectively defining the appropriate approach to adopt both from a trade facilitation and enforcement perspective. They also announced the CBP’s “321 data pilot” which was announced in the Federal Register Notice.


The World Customs Organization and the World Trade Organization are working together to design a Framework of Standards on cross-border e-commerce and also delivered a Resolution. The EU has also modified its customs and VAT regulations on low value consignment recently.


We are discussing the Challenge of E-Commerce in a new CM Podcast. Please check on www.customsmanager.com back available from Friday 9 August 2019.


Trade Remedies: Implementation through Collaboration


The implementation of trade remedies is a unique and complex process that requires extensive coordination between multitudes of stakeholders. This panel highlighted the successes and challenges of the process to date, underscoring the importance of stakeholder collaboration at every stage. Trade remedies are trade policy tools that allow governments to take remedial action against imports which are causing material injury to a domestic industry.

Such remedies are divided broadly into:

• anti-dumping action;

• countervailing duty measures; and

• safeguard action.

These remedies are triggered in response to different situations and circumstances which may be causing material injury to a domestic industry. Recourse to these tools is initiated by the domestic industry. The rules relating to trade remedies relevant are based on WTO rules.


We cover trade remedies in CM’s Continuous Education & Training Program where we build up Customs & Global Trade (C&GT) expertise in Customs Managers and Global Trade Professionals with monthly, bit-seized modern learning based on a C&GT curriculum designed by customs officials and experts. In the trade remedies learning we cover the circumstances which give rise to recourse to such remedies and the procedures for activating their use. Try a lesson for free and get premium subscription for less than $2* per day.

Countering Illicit Trade

The purpose of the “Countering Illicit Trade” panel was raising awareness of potential threats faced by industry and the trade community, to identify means for reporting illicit activity, and to share methods for partnering with the U.S. government. Illicit Trade can deal with trade in areas of Cultural Heritage; Drugs; Environment; IPR and Health & Safety and Revenue and Security.


Here again, E-commerce, was mentioned. The number of shipments grows in the geometric progression, posing serious problems both to postal and express operators and to Customs administrations. Even though the number of seizures of prohibited or restricted commodities, such as counterfeits, excise goods and drugs, is high, quantity wise it is low, especially if compared with seizures on vessels.


A second area discussed relates to the Free Trade Zones in supply chain security. Free Trade Zones are a very important nod in global value chains. However, from the supply chain security perspective, they still largely remain outside Customs control and supervision. Companies which deal with e-commerce goods and/or operate in a Free Trade Zone have to have robust processes and procedures in place to prevent the movement of illicit goods and possible seizures of customs.


Port of the Future

The Port of the Future Breakout session discussed new technologies and processes that will enhance security and expedite legitimate trade at our air, sea, and land ports of entry. It was a session where we looked into the future and learned about CBP innovations in automation, technology and cashless processing from the CBP experts that are working on these projects.


Other topics, discussed in breakout sessions includes

• Advancements in nonintrusive inspection equipment

• Investment in new technology to ease border crossing

• Forced labor in the supply chain


One-On-One Discussions

A particular highlight was the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions to answer questions from the Trade Symposium participants. Registrants reserved an interview time slot to have one-on-one meeting opportunities with the directors of CBP’s Centers of Excellence and Expertise across the following sectors:


• Agriculture & Prepared Products

• Footwear & Textiles

• Automotive & Aerospace

• Base Metals

• Consumer Products & Mass Merchandising

• Electronics

• Industrial & Manufacturing Materials

• Machinery

• Natural Gas & Minerals

• Pharmaceuticals, Health & Chemicals




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