COAC members’ value
The partnership between CBP and the trade community, manifested through the Commercial Operations Advisory Committee (COAC), has never been stronger. CBP’s culture has shifted during the past four years to the point that it works to co-create virtually all policies and programs with the private sector.
And COAC is working harder than ever to keep CBP’s feet to the fire on its ambitious trade transformation initiative under which it strives to become the lubricant at the border for legitimate trade rather than the sticking point that discourages companies from engaging in global business.
The previous COAC began working at a frenetic pace to support CBP’s efforts. COAC often was a discussion forum where little got done, but since CBP began taking it seriously it has risen to the task. The 13th term of COAC members, whose term began a year ago, has built on the momentum and is providing a steady stream of recommendations to CBP on multiple fronts.
Last year, COAC played a major role in several initiatives, including improving development of the Automated Commercial Environment, the Air Cargo Advanced Screening pilot, Centers for Excellence and Expertise, new regulations for the customs broker industry, automating export reviews for the first time, the One-U.S.-Government-at-the Border approach towards trade, the International Trade Data System, and modernizing trusted trader programs.
That requires providing feedback on systems, processes, security and many other things that tie into these programs.
COAC members spend a lot of time helping Customs. Between quarterly meetings, they are engaged in countless other meetings, conference calls, webinars and subcommittee work – all of which they do on top of their day jobs.
“In order to be effective, it continues to be critical that CBP engage COAC early and often, not just on operational issues, but at the strategic level,” COAC Chairman Ted Sherman, director of global trade services for Target Corp., said at the Feb. 20 quarterly meeting.
Everyone is rowing in the same direction: to get transaction costs down and increase speed to market.
COAC members say they also will continue to provide advice on the perennial nuts-and-bolts issues so critical to traders, including intellectual property rights protection, focused assessments, and anti-dumping.
Despite all the coziness in Washington, there still is an undercurrent of concern out in the field that Customs is ramping up enforcement of trade laws in ways that ensnares companies for technical violations. Hopefully, any disconnect between headquarters and ports of entry will be eliminated as the Centers of Excellence and Expertise get fully implemented. The CEEs have the industry experts that are supposed to apply the trade regulations in a more consistent fashion.