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Thai National Shippers’ Council
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JOC 20/2/14 - Executive Order Shines Spotlight on US Trade Automation

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said President Obama’s signing of an
executive order to streamline cargo processes creates a roadmap for completion,
puts a spotlight on the importance of trade and raises awareness of the need
for
other federal agencies to help speed up freight clearance.

Aboard Air Force One and on his way to Toluca, Mexico, to meet with his Mexican
and Canadian counterparts, Obama yesterday signed an order requiring the
International Trade Data System to be finished by December 2016. The system,
often referred to as the “single window,” will allow brokers and shippers to
transmit necessary documents electronically in minutes instead of waiting for
days and should reduce their need to file duplicative paperwork, saving
shippers
both time and money.

The system will also give brokers and shippers more predictability, said Acting
Commissioner Thomas Winkowski. The implementation of ITDS is expected to reduce
the processing time and costs of shipping more than 50 million containers and
$3.8 trillion worth of goods annually.

“CBP, as well as other stakeholders, look at this as an important step
forward,”
said Winkowski. “It promotes a single-government approach to trade.”

Work to complete ITDS was already progressing faster in conjunction with the
targeted 2016 completion of CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment, but
Winkowski said Obama has made wrapping up the ITDS project an executive branch
statutory requirement and given it a deadline.

“The president has signed an order. Government agencies listen to that order,”
Winkowski.

The executive order also raises the “visibility” of the need for other federal
agencies to determine what types of information related to cargo processing
that
they need from importers and exporters, said Brenda Smith, executive director
at
the ACE Business Office of International Trade. Getting that information from
all of the 47 federal agencies involved in the processing of imports and
exports
is key to Customs completing ACE by Oct. 1, 2016. Through a single window,
brokers and shippers won’t have to fill out paperwork for each agency that
needs
to clear a shipment

The executive order shows that the Obama administration understands the
importance of managing data, and that the old way of processing cargo won’t be
able to handle traffic growth, said American Association of Exporters and
Importers President and CEO Marianne Rowden, She did, however, express concerns
about whether all the other federal agencies would be able to meet the ITDS
mandate.

Winkowski acknowledged that some federal agencies are going to need the help of
Customs, which he said has deep experience in trade data collection and
transmission. A memorandum of understanding is needed between Customs and
another federal agency to get the ball rolling.

“We have some agencies that we have MOUs with, some that are close to done and
some are gong to have to get started,” he said.

The executive order, along with funding for 2,000 more agents to man the
nation’s busiest ports of entry and the first politically appointed
commissioner
in some time on deck, get Customs off to a positive start for the year,
Winkowski said at an Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of Customs and
Border Protection meeting. The passage of an omnibus spending bill will fund
the
addition of 700 more agents in fiscal 2014 and 1,300 more in fiscal 2015.  The
target force of 23,775 CBP officers will be the largest in history for Customs.
Winkoski said he thinks CBP’s staffing will continue to increase past fiscal
2015.   The busy border crossing between San Diego, Calif., and Tijuana,
Mexico,
also received $128 million for modernization through passage of the $1.1
trillion bipartisan bill.

Customs also has the necessary funding to complete the long-delayed ACE, which
has already cost more than $3 billion and is more than $1 billion over budget.
The delays have hurt customs brokers who have had to spend hundreds of
thousands
of dollars on software for ACE and the outdated cargo processing system it is
replacing.

Jeh Johnson, who was confirmed as Secretary of the Department of Homeland
Security in December, is interested in tackling trade issues and is visiting
the
Port of Long Beach and Los Angeles tomorrow to gain a better understanding of
the global supply chain, Winkowski said. There is, however, no word on when the
Senate will vote on Obama’s nomination of Gil Kerlikowske to head Customs. If
confirmed, he would the agency’s first politically confirmed Customs chief
since
2009.

“With an agency of this size, scope, complexity and magnitude, it’s important
to
have a Senate-confirmed secretary,” Winkowski said.