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CBP Hopes to See Enhanced Trade Enforcement, 'Modernized' Rules of Origin in NAFTA Talks, McAleenan Says

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Enhanced trade enforcement provisions, the ability to collaborate on trade facilitation issues and “modernized rules of origin” are among issues CBP would like to see included in NAFTA negotiations, Acting CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said during the West Coast Trade Symposium on May 24. “There's a lot of ways CBP can contribute to that dialogue,” he said. “The way this is unfolding with the importance and access being placed on CBP, I think we'll have that opportunity.” McAleenan also said the timing for the final deployment of ACE should be "announced pretty soon."

The relationship with Mexico continues to be productive despite some controversial positions during the presidential campaign, McAleenan said. CBP will sign a memorandum of understanding to "memorialize" the Unified Cargo Processing pilot in a "couple weeks" because the arrangement "has been tremendous" in terms of truck wait times and security, he said. Meanwhile, there have been discussions with Canada related to "pre-clearance for cargo," McAleenan said. That's a "challenge, but an exciting one," he said. There's no "fundamental agreement with Canada on how to do that," so more negotiations toward that would be necessary, he said. There also are some infrastructure limitations, he said. McAleenan declined to weigh in on some of the higher-level issues involved in NAFTA renegotiations.

Much of CBP's work remains consistent between the administrations, but the trade-focused executive orders in recent weeks point to some new emphases, McAleenan said. The executive order on antidumping and countervailing duty collection enforcement (see 1704030033) is a "statement of policy" that the administration wants CBP to continue its work and to "attack several key areas on that," he said. "I don't think that will be the last administration-level guidance we get on trade enforcement areas, and we are working on providing our strategic ideas" to "inform that policy-making process," he said.

Technology can offer some major tools to improve CBP's operations, he said. Unique identifiers and blockchain are two possible solutions for supply chain security issues, he said. McAleenan plans to bring up those issues during the World Customs Organization’s Global Transit Summit in July, he said. E-commerce shipments are another important focus for the agency, and CBP needs to be able to identify threats in unopened parcels, he said. CBP is now working with the industry to develop an electronic method for clearing Section 321 low value shipments in addition to the current manifest process (see 1704070039). McAleenan, who's nomination for permanent commissioner was sent to the Senate this week (see 1705220074), said he was "humbled" to be nominated for the role.