CBP eyes streamlined import process

Tuesday - 11/22/2011, 9:39am EST

Brenda Smith, executive director for trade policy and programs, CBP

Download mp3

By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

Customs and Border Protection has a new tool that will allow the agency to keep a closer track of the products being shipped to the United States.

But it has to be tested first, said Brenda Smith, the executive director for trade policy and programs at CBP.

In an interview on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Amy Morris, Smith said the the new "simplified entry" tool, which is currently in the testing phase, will help streamline data requirements for companies that import material into the United States.

The agency issued a notice in the Federal Register to the import industry, seeking participants for the tests.

Companies that join the test phase will submit different kinds of data to CBP. The agency will then test the various data to develop a new risk-based formula for assessing the safety of incoming imported material before it even reaches U.S. shores.

"We think that along with the streamlining, we can give both trade as well as the government greater predictability in the import process," Smith said. "And that will help us become more economically competitive."

The streamlined process could also be more cost-effective for importers, she added.

Assessing safety involves a number of factors, she explained, including inspecting material for weapons of mass destruction .

"But we're also looking at a more micro level," she said, including examining whether goods are counterfeit.

The new system, when implemented, will build upon security measures CBP already has in place, Smith said.

"It's building on efforts that we've done in the past to gather advanced information, make a good risk decision and then take action appropriately."

Follow Jack on Twitter at @jmooreWFED.

Click here for more CBP news