CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin announced at a 9 March 2011 hearing of the US House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security that CBP intends to re-emphasize trade enforcement and the importance of trade functions. Bersin stated that CBP would be focusing on industries such as textiles and “the defrauding on the basis of [North American Free Trade Agreement] distinctions.” Bersin further stated that both CBP and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be increasing their attention on intellectual property rights enforcement. Bersin also indicated that a primary objective of CBP is to work with the trade community to enhance benefits to trusted shippers.
On 13 April 2011, Commissioner Bersin announced at CBP’s 2011 trade symposium the need to balance CBP’s security obligations with trade facilitation. Bersin emphasized it is time to recognize that increased economic competiveness through trade is essential to national security. Through this “paradigm shift,” CBP would develop programs and policies that benefit not just security, but also economic competitiveness. CBP would seek input from the private sector regarding ways to facilitate trade in an efficient manner without disregarding security.
At the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America, Inc.’s annual meeting on 4 April 2011, Commissioner Bersin further called for the simplification of procedures to expedite the movement of cargo through US ports. Bersin blamed outdated entry procedures for the slow movement of cargo and increased transaction costs, and sought the help of industry in identifying procedures or rules that contribute to slow cargo movement. Bersin also called for increased CBP coordination, as well as increased coordination between the agencies that control imports into the United States.
Commissioner Bersin also announced internal changes in the agency’s leadership designed to restore trade policy experience to the Office of Field Operations and operational experience to the Office of International Trade. These changes entered into effect the week of 15 March. Changes included the appointment of Dan Baldwin—formerly the Assistant Commissioner for International Trade—as the Executive Director for Cargo and Conveyance Security Programs in the Office of Field Operations, Allen Gina as head of the Office of International Trade and Todd Owen as the Director of Field Operations for Los Angeles.
Finally, Bersin stated that CBP is committed to completing the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)—part of the agency’s initiative to use more paperless procedures for not only agency processes, but also for filings with the trade community. Bersin made additional remarks on 14 April 2011, indicating that CBP is moving towards the pre-arrival release of “trusted” cargo, but will need information earlier, as well as expedited responses to questions. Cargo is often delayed because information already required is missing—if this information is provided earlier, CBP can make a decision earlier. Bersin emphasized the importance of the ACE system in this regard.