Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller addresses the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America

First of all, I just want to say thank you for the introduction. You are all true partners of US Customs and Border Protection, and more importantly, true partners in the economic security of this nation and the safety and security of our citizens. So if I could a round of applause for the association, Lenny and JD.

Good afternoon, everyone. It’s great to be here in Fort Lauderdale. Again, I just want to acknowledge the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America, the president JD, and thank you for having me speak again at the 51st annual conference. It was quite an honor to be here for the 50th in New Orleans last year. Customs officials and industry partners have been coming together in these conferences to discuss issues with the trade environment as we said, for over 50 years. And while the discussions and issues may have changed, one thing that hasn’t, it’s the need for us all to work together. By looking around the room today, it’s clear we continue to do just that.

As customs brokers and freight forwarders you are a full force multiplier for Customs and Border Protection as we enforce trade compliance and supply chain security every day if you are working to collect information that helps us maintain a safe, fair, viable trade environment that protects our nation’s economic security. One in four partnership effort for CBP, and we were just talking about a little bit at the table, is the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism Program, or CTPAT.

From its inception, in 2001, CTPAT continues to grow. Today, we have more than 11,000 certified partners, including customs brokers, freight forwarders who have been accepted into the program. By helping to validate safe supply chain, certified partners receive fewer exams, first-line privileges, assigned supply chain security specialists and the scientists supply chain security specialist to provide assistance.

Since January 2024, remember that date, January 2024 CTPAT has successfully conducted nearly 30 webinars providing useful information to our trade industry partners on CBP requirements and how to identify potential bad actors who are attempting to exploit legitimate supply chains for illicit activity. This outreach will be ongoing as we work with trade to combat tactics used by transnational criminal organizations and further secure the supply chain.

Today, January 2024, CBP’s efforts have resulted in educating over 3,000 companies, or approximately 42,000 individuals involved in shipping commodities to the US. But we need to continue to hear from you, everybody in this room. The ever-changing dynamic of the trade environment requires us to stay agile and adaptable together. CBP will continue to collaborate, communicate, and listen to the needs of our partners so we can adjust and ensure supply chain security and continue to facilitate legitimate trade. Your feedback is essential, it’s necessary.

Speaking of adapting, everyone in this room has had to adjust to the unprecedented expansion of e-commerce. In fiscal year 2015, we processed 134 million de minimus shipments. Today, CBP processes nearly 4 million de minimus shipments a day.

This is a major challenge. Bad actors are exploiting de minimus to traffic illicit goods and circumvent legitimate trade. Small packages may be of low cost but they provide bad actors with high rewards. Especially for the illegal trafficking of narcotics, synthetic drugs and the chemicals and tools used to make things like fentanyl, which are killing American youth.

Fentanyl is devastating our communities. We are committed to stopping fentanyl and other synthetic drugs from crossing our borders, while holding those who manufacture and traffic it accountable. In fact, I was just in Arizona just last week announcing the next phase of our strategy, Plaza Spike, which targets the plazas and the cartel bosses responsible for bringing fentanyl across the southwest border.

The fight against fentanyl and other synthetic drugs is complex. We need the trade community’s support. We have all have a shared responsibility in ownership and securing our supply chains. We need your help to establish better information sharing on shipments by providing accurate data on producers, shippers and commodities, end users and the ultimate destinations.

Currently, we are still receiving advanced data for de minimus shipments that is limited and often vague and inaccurate. I am asking you to do your part and share the information we receive as detailed and matches what we have in the package. This means confirming that filer and carrier requirements are met through accurate manifest descriptions, providing correct classifications and values for de minimus goods, and ensuring the timely filing of data. In today’s dynamic environment, we can expect to encounter shifts and trading patterns. We will work with you to keep pace with those shifts. CBP has several efforts underway to deal with the growing volume of small packages so that our personnel can focus on high-risk packages.

Entry Type 86 created new business opportunities for parties, including customs brokers who were previously not utilizing the de minimus entry process. However, we are seeing many instances within the Entry Type 86 test where filers aren’t doing their part to validate the data they are submitting. We continue to see weight and value ratios that don’t make sense, vague cargo descriptions like freight of all kinds or daily necessities. In fact, a few weeks ago, we seized two shipments that contained Xylazine, a horse tranquilizer. When added to fentanyl it is resistant to Narcan, a medication that helps prevent opioid overdose deaths. Both shipments were misclassified, had vague one word descriptions “bag” and “90.” Both shipments entered under Entry Type 86.

We know that there are filers abusing their Entry Type 86 test by filing entries as quickly as possible and providing junk data. These individuals can file entries worth more than several thousand dollars a day without any vetting of the data to ensure accuracy. CBP has learned that these same filers are charging as little as $0.10 per entry type 86 transaction. As a result, highly compliant customs brokers like you aren’t participating in the test because they can’t fulfill their duty to provide accurate data to CBP. They simply cannot compete with these prices.

This is creating an unlevel playing field with the Entry Type 86 test environment. Put simply, these bad actors are potentially harming us all and are making us less safe. To change this, CBP is increasing our enforcement efforts to ensure that compliant and responsible customs brokers are participating in the Entry Type 86 test. We are taking actions to tighten the guardrails around Entry Type 86 test to ensure the responsible customs brokers can compete in this environment.

This includes suspending participants from the test when necessary. Again, we want to make sure we are all on the same page when it comes to compliance. We have been in close dialog with your association’s leadership. We appreciate your input to provide more guidance related to the Entry Type 86 test. As a result, we published a new Entry Type 86 guidance just last week. We will continue to be transparent and maintain this open dialog with the industry to ensure everyone understands the requirements.

 Another initiative is the Section 321 Data Pilot that is running through August of 2025. This pilot allows CBP to receive, as you all know, additional advanced data from non-traditional trade partners. It enhances our ability to assess risk and interdict illicit shipments in a small package environment, and we have received positive feedback from you, the trade community on both time and cost savings.

We have been conducting both Entry Type 86 and Section 321 Data Pilot for several years. In fiscal year 2023, participants in the Entry Type 86 test and Section 321 Data Pilot provided us with over 785 million filings of data elements not traditionally required for de minimus shipments. We have found that entries submitted with additional data elements, accurate data elements, can be evaluated and released more quickly. This has resulted in same day clearances and about 90% reduction in shipments of participating online platforms. Detailed product information from online marketplace product listings have proven extremely beneficial to officers evaluating shipments for risk. We are learning a lot through these initiatives, and we know there is still more to learn.

We encourage everyone who is eligible to participate and provide that feedback. More participants will allow more companies to collect data from various sources in the supply chain and develop streamlined filing mechanisms to explore new and different technologies that can impact future regulations and help us identify future trade facilitation benefits.

And that’s another example of us working together to improve the trade environment. Continuing education for customs brokers is another key priority for CBP. We published the final rule for continued education for licensed customs brokers just last June, lining the broker license with many other professional licenses certifications which have a continued education components. This rule requires an individual broker to obtain 36 hours of continuing education every three years.

As customs brokers you all are on the front lines of security facilitation and compliance and enforcement. Continuing education is intended to help ensure all 13,000 individually licensed customs brokers stay current and new requirements in the highly dynamic trade environment. We are looking at what activities will be eligible for credit including webinars, trade conferences, corporate training, trade days held at ports, our trade summit and training offered by trade associations and other private entities. Activities that are not offered by the US government will need to be accredited by a CBP approved accreditor. We issued a request for proposals for interested parties to become CBP educated creditors in February, and the solicitation closed on March 7th. We are currently reviewing the submissions and plan to select multiple accreditors soon. We encourage all customs brokers to stay tuned for further information, including the anticipated start date for customs brokers to begin earning continuing education credits.

We will also be administering the next Customs Broker License exam on May 1st. This exam will be offered in person and virtually. Currently, there are more than thirteen-hundred folks registered for the exam, the majority of whom have elected to take it in person. We are also listening to feedback from the customs broker community, and CBP is partnering with the COAC’s Broker Modernization Working Group to work through a series of ideas for re-envisioning the customs broker exam. The working Group has provided CBP with excellent recommendations to enhance the Customs Broker’s License exam experience.

Now, I’d like to update you on a couple of other items. As you may have heard, I announced at a recent trade summit, CBP is partnering with the FDA to expand the focus of the Global Business Identifier Test. In February, we issued a Federal Register notice modifying the GBI test by removing commodity and country of origin limitations on the types of entries permitted under the test, and extending the test for three more years. This expanded focus will allow us to expedite compliant trade and pursue a future state where the industry can use identifiers to demonstrate compliance with mandates, and indicate low risk to the US government. CBP will work jointly with the FDA to explore how identifiers could be leveraged to improve coordinated decision making across the US government. This could enhance predictability, lower costs, and create additional facility benefits for compliant trade participants. I encourage our trade partners to participate in this test and voluntarily transmit GBI data with your entry filings. Your feedback will help inform the ongoing evolution of the test, including potential benefits for participants.

I would also like to update you on two notices of proposed rule makings, or NPRM’s, that have cleared CBP. The Rail Electronic Export Manifest NPRM, requires the electronic submission of the export manifest and is for cargo transport by rail and formalizes the current test environment for rail transmissions with other modes of transportation to follow for future rulemakings.

The entry of low value trade shipment NPRM’s, the value low value shipments which we just talked about, the electronic process for entry and low value shipments is based on the successes of the Entry Type 86 test and the Section 321 Data Pilot. This proposed rule allows CBP to target high-risk shipments more effectively, including those containing synthetic drugs such as fentanyl again, that has made its way out of CBP. Both NPRM’s demonstrate our commitment to enhancing the automation of trade processes, which will facilitate trade and improve enforcement. As these NPRM’s are currently in the interagency review, we don’t know when the proposed rules will be published in the Federal Register, but we will continue to do everything possible to expedite the process. Once they are published, we look forward to your comments and we’ll take them into account before we finalize these rules.

To close, I want to reiterate that we remain committed to strong partnerships with NCBFAA and other key trade stakeholders to keep the global supply chain safe and moving. For our part, CBP will continue to impact, impart critical information and listen to your needs. For your part, I ask that you continue to be a force multiplier for us and help us eliminate the bad actors from the supply chain. I encourage all of you to engage with CBP representatives during the conference to provide your feedback and ideas. Direct engagement is vital to maintaining a trade landscape that addresses our collective needs in the safest, most efficient manner possible.

Again, I cannot thank everybody in this room enough for your partnerships, and I look forward to the continued collaboration as we do everything we can to keep the people of our country safe and continue to protect the economic security of our nation.

Thank you so much.

This post was originally published on this site