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US Customs Unveils New Security Strategy to Deal With E-Commerce Surge

A perhaps unexpected extension of the surge of e-commerce around the world has been the security threat it presents.

In an effort to shore up that security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released an e-commerce strategy that addresses the growing volume of imported small packages and the challenges and opportunities it presents for the country’s economy and security.

CBP said the new e-commerce strategy strengthens its ability to protect health and safety, while maintaining a strong stance in trade facilitation in e-commerce. CBP defines e-commerce as high-volume, low-value shipments purchased through electronic means. The growth in volume has increased the chance for illegal and dangerous products to cross the U.S. border, creating new risks that can compromise U.S. intellectual property rights, the agency said.

“E-commerce is growing exponentially as consumers are increasingly enabled to complete purchases online. CBP must adapt and increase its ability to address the facilitation and enforcement challenges it creates,” CBP acting commissioner Kevin McAleenan said. “CBP’s first e-commerce strategy positions CBP to address the various complexities, opportunities and threats resulting from this global shift in trade to an e-commerce platform.”

This strategy highlights private industry and foreign governments as key partners and resources in CBP’s ongoing assessment of the e-commerce environment and includes efforts to educate the public and trade community so they understand their responsibilities as importers to comply with customs regulations. The strategy also focuses on streamlining enforcement processes affected by increasing e-commerce volumes, leveraging enforcement partnerships with other government agencies and foreign governments, and improving data collection from CBP systems and field personnel.

In his executive summary to the report, McAleenan noted that enhanced legal and regulatory authorities are needed to enable interagency partners to better address emerging threats such as dangerous contraband and counterfeits.

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In addition, he said, “By adapting operations to the fast-growing -ecommerce market, such as enhancing data collection, targeting, examinations, intelligence and international engagement, will allow CBP to better understand, anticipate and actively address emerging risks and facilitation opportunities within the dynamic e-commerce and small parcel shipments-driven supply chain.’

“CBP remains committed to protecting businesses and consumers every day through aggressive enforcement of non-compliant trade,” Brenda B. Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade. “The e-commerce strategy will strengthen CBP’s ability to protect U.S. consumers, manage threats in the e-commerce environment, strengthen international mail enforcement, and create stronger, longer-term partnerships here and abroad.”

In a separate report this week, CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said they hit a record high for seizures of counterfeit goods, confiscating 34,143 shipments of goods found to be in violation of Intellectual Property Rights.

IPR seizures increased 8 percent over fiscal 2016 and marked the second year in a row, CBP and ICE seized more than 30,000 shipments of counterfeit and pirated products with an estimated retail value of $1.2 billion had the products been genuine.

Wearing apparel and accessories was the merchandise category accounting for the highest number of IPR seizures, making up roughly 15 percent of all such actions in the year.