Advances in trade, security and technology dominated Wednesday’s quarterly meeting of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations or COAC. Hosted by CBP, the event in Miami featured a keynote address by CBP Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan.
Established by Congress in 1987, the 20-member committee advises the secretaries of the Departments of the Treasury and Homeland Security on their commercial operations as well as CBP’s own commercial operations.
Acting Commissioner McAleenan used the occasion to highlight CBP’s improved enforcement authority under the COAC-supported 2015 Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act. This year also marked the law’s two-year anniversary.
“As you know, this legislation created over 100 new mandates and requirements and in many ways reshaped the interaction between CBP and the trade community,” he said. The act protects the economy through tougher trade enforcement and more engagement with the private sector. It also streamlines and automates import and export procedures.
“CBP has made significant progress in enhancing our enforcement efforts,” said the Acting Commissioner, pointing out that the agency has “aligned operations with today’s complex trade environment.”
The COAC subcommittees provided recommendations to improve automation, along with better ways for CBP to collect revenue, so CBP officers can spend less time collecting payments and more time running their operation. Proposals to improve internet commerce, or e-commerce, were also offered.
A working group gave updates on “block chain,” a technology used by the financial industry to securely share information. The technology enables certificates and licenses to be electronically submitted. Foreign governments generate seals and signatures that must be shown before their goods can enter the country. Without proper protections, those documents risk being manipulated or fraudulently produced.
Measures to protect intellectual property were also outlined. Among them was the Report IP Theft campaign that encourages reporting violations through a newly established toll-free hotline. CBP was urged to work with e-commerce stakeholders to develop an automated online survey for customers who believe their shipments contain phony products. The agency was asked to find better ways to handle “blanks,” cargo that arrives without a logo or trademark.
COAC members represent a wide range of manufacturers, shippers and trade industry associations. Border and supply-chain security, air cargo security, import safety, customs broker regulations, trade enforcement, and revenue modernization, are among the committee’s interests.