CBP's trade strategy sets goal of modernization

The federal government must intensity its efforts to manage and track trade through electronic means rather than paper processes, according to a new trade strategy for 2009 to 2013 released by Customs and Border Protection.

The modernization of U.S. trade programs into automated, account-based and paperless processes and systems is one of four key components of the strategy. The other goals focus on facilitating legitimate trade, enforcing trade laws and advancing national security.

“The trade strategy complements our national strategies for gaining operational control of the borders at and between the ports of entry,” said CBP Commissioner Ralph Basham when releasing the strategy at the 2008 Trade Symposium on Oct. 29. “It will guide our efforts toward a system that is swift, safe and secure for legitimate imports entering the U.S. marketplace.”

CBP processed nearly $2 trillion in imports and collected $32 billion in trade duties, taxes and fees in fiscal 2007. It handles paperwork for about 10 million shipping containers a year.

The agency has launched several modernization projects in recent years, including the Automated Customs Environment, to speed processing and provide better integration of trade data. The 44-page strategy document outlines additional areas of focus for the next five years.

For example, the strategy calls for continued attention to modernizing and integrating trade data and facilitating information sharing. The document also says that trade data should be transformed from transaction-based systems to account-based systems and that more work is needed on risk assessment, border infrastructure and workforce issues.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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