CBP Seeks to Curb Illicit e-Commerce Traffic

With more and more consumers turning to the Internet for shopping, the wave of e-commerce shipments entering the U.S. from abroad has increased exponentially over the past two years.  Customs and Border Protection (CBP) estimated that 1.4 million e-commerce shipments entered the U.S. in January each day.  That number has increased to 2.1 million shipments daily, and may reach 2.5 million per day by the end of the year.

CBP’s Executive Assistant Commissioner, Todd Owen, noted that the agency has observed a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese goods entering the U.S. via truckload from Canada.  These truckloads, carrying hundreds of small packages designed to qualify for the U.S. de minimus exemption, have started to overwhelm interdiction efforts by CBP officers at the northern border ports, he said.

With the uptick in small parcel shipping, counterfeit and unsafe products, as well as illegal narcotics are increasingly making their way into the e-commerce stream.  And the CBP is ready to take action, collectively with the industry, to enhance security over this trade.

“Stay tuned” Robert Perez, CBP’s Acting Deputy Commissioner, told attendees at the NCBFAA Conference in Washington, D.C. in late September.  “We’re about ready to roll up our sleeves and lock ourselves in a room like we did with CTPAT… We’re getting close to doing the same (with e-commerce)… I ask you to be at the ready.”

After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, CBP established the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) as part of its multi-layered cargo enforcement strategy.  The goal of the program has been to secure the flow of goods to the U.S. by developing voluntary anti-terrorism partnerships with companies within the international trade community.

On October 24, President Trump signed legislation that will require the U.S. Postal Service to transmit advance electronic data to the CBP for international mail shipments to the U.S. prior to arrival at American borders.  The legislation, which includes Synthetics Trafficking and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Act provisions, will require USPS to transmit the advance electronic data to the CBP on 70% of all international mail by December 31 and on 100% of international mail by Dec. 31, 2020.  Starting in 2021, the legislation will require USPS to refuse shipments for which data has not been provided and sets forth civil penalties if USPS accepts international mail shipments without the advance data.

Beginning on January 1, 2019, CBP will require Canadian trucking companies to file advance manifests, like it has already done along the U.S.-Mexican border.  Advance manifests for Chinese goods and so-called Section 321 e-commerce shipments will be particularly scrutinized.

Further updates on this breaking news story will be published in our monthly newsletter as details are announced by the CBP.




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