US Customs and Border Protection emphasizes trade role

By: | at 08:00 PM | International Trade  

New Office of Trade will consolidate functions

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the formation of a new office, designed to spearhead its national trade policy, which will consolidate its trade policy, program development, and compliance measurement functions into a single Office of Trade. The Office of Trade, which will embark on its mission on October 15, 2006, will provide greater consistency within CBP with respect to its international trade programs and operations, and further CBP’s ability to facilitate the flow of legitimate trade across US borders while securing US borders and protecting the American economy from unfair trade practices and illicit commercial enterprises. In addition, by consolidating these important functions under one office, CBP’s close working relationship with the trade community ’ already a hallmark of CBP’s operations and programs ’ will be even further enhanced.

According to CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham, ’ This is a significant event in the evolution of Customs and Border Protection, which has always had the twin goals of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering our country, while, at the same time, facilitating the flow of legitimate trade and travel. The newly constituted Office of Trade will further reinforce our commitment to the trade component of these goals.’

‘The creation of the Office of Trade underscores CBP’s strong conviction that partnerships and outreach are necessary to facilitate legitimate trade and to effectively enforce trade laws’ said Commissioner Basham. ‘By providing the trade with a focal point within CBP, we can better align our resources with the greatest risk while ensuring the fastest possible clearances for compliant trade,’ he added.

Currently at Customs and Border Protection, the functions of trade policy and program development are split among three offices within CBP: the Office of Strategic Trade, the Office of Regulations and Rulings, and the Office of Field Operations. The new Office of Trade will consolidate the trade policy, program development, and compliance measurement functions of CBP into one office without creating dual reporting mechanisms or overlapping, redundant management structures that would disrupt the closely interrelated activities of CBP officers and operators processing arriving cargo at US ports of entry.

The Office of Trade will also develop national trade policies and programs that will guide the work done by the CBP officers in ports of entry, but managing and carrying out cargo processing operations on a day-to-day basis will remain the responsibility of CBP’s Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Field Operations, working through his chain of command ’ the Directors of Field Operations, Port Directors and front line supervisors.

The consolidation and streamlining of CBP’s trade functions and the consequent enhancements to CBP’s trade missions has been championed by leaders of Congress, most notably Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Charles Grassley (R-IA) who has worked closely with CBP on this concept and, according to Commissioner Basham, ’ deserves great credit for moving this forward.’

Commissioner Basham has also announced his selection of Dan Baldwin as the Assistant Commissioner for the new Office of Trade. Mr. Baldwin, currently the Assistant Commissioner of CBP’s Office of Strategic Trade, will assume leadership of the new office upon its establishment. Mr. Baldwin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in trade matters.

The new office will be responsible for:

  • Providing national strategic direction to facilitate legitimate trade while protecting the American economy from unfair trade practices.
  • Directing national enforcement responses through effective targeting of goods crossing the border as well as strict, swift punitive actions against companies participating in predatory trade practices.
  • Coordinating with international partners to ensure effective enforcement of textile admissibility issues as well as the


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