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U.S. Customs to Focus on Technology and E-Commerce in 2018

Posted November 06, 2017

Under International Trade Issues, U.S. Customs Issues

(Toby Gooley – DC Logistics)

Taking advantage of technology advancements and dealing with the explosive growth of e-commerce will be top priorities for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2018, according to Acting Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan. McAleenan, who had a confirmation hearing earlier this year but has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, spoke Nov. 2 in Providence, R.I., at the Northeast Cargo Symposium put on by the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade (CONECT).

McAleenan said that CBP recently created an emerging technologies group examining how blockchain, the database that serves as an open ledger, potentially affects the agency’s work. In a blockchain, every transaction is available for participants to see and verify, and the database cannot be changed without all participants’ agreement. By providing a common view, it eliminates the need to transfer information between organizations through e-mails, spreadsheets, and direct electronic connections.

Technology will play a leading role in CBP’s efforts to get its arms around the explosive growth of e-commerce. The skyrocketing popularity of online ordering, combined with last year’s increase in the per-shipment value of imports exempt from fees, duties, and compliance requirements to $800 from $200, have contributed to a significant increase in cross-border shipments of small packages, according to McAleenan. The agency must be prepared for this changing environment, he said, adding that "it is our intent to have a defined path on how we move forward" with handling e-commerce shipments. Functionality will be added to the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE), the electronic trade processing system that has been in the works for more than a dozen years, to help CBP identify e-commerce trends, he said. Click here to read more.