Trade facilitation is a great concept, but more difficult to achieve. Just get customs authorities to be more reasonable with ticky-tack rules, evenly apply regulations, segment cargo by risk so legitimate shippers don’t have to go through as many security and regulatory hoops, and streamline filing processes. Sounds great, but Customs is only one piece of the puzzle. Until all the other agencies in the federal government play well together and follow the same game plan it will be difficult to truly speed up cross-border flows.
The White House, with the help of Customs, is pushing its One-Government-at-the-Border initiative so that agencies can give unified admissibility messages to importers. It will take a long time to bring down the cultural barriers within agencies to achieve that goal, but one of the building blocks for inter-agency coordination is the Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center.
In April, CBP announced the addition of the Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service to the CTAC in Washington. Seven other agencies already have personnel stationed at the joint office.
At the CTAC, the 11 agencies are physically co-located to leverage their collective resources, expertise and authorities to make decisions on which shipments to target that may pose a health or safety risk to consumers. The arrangement also allows for better and faster sharing of information used to make inspection decisions.
“Participating in the CTAC will give our law enforcement officers access to new intelligence and increased opportunities to partner with Customs and other federal counterparts in keeping our borders closed to illegal products of all types,” FWS Director Dan Ashe said.
This column was published in the August 2014 issue of American Shipper.