Alan Bersin, Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, gave a rousing speech to the international trade community attending the AAEI Annual Conference on  June 7, 2010 in New York City.  Instead of focusing on the typical law enforcement concepts of counter-terrorism and national security, Commissioner Bersin enthralled the audience with more business savvy concepts such as "risk management" and "improved trade facilitation."

Mr. Bersin was appointed on March 27, 2010, by President Obama, as Commissioner for one year under a recess appointment. His former position was as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “Border Czar”. Commissioner Bersin is still awaiting confirmation by the Senate Finance Committee.

As stated in the Journal of Commerce regarding Commissioner Bersin’s speech:

If 10 percent of shippers cause 90 percent of the security threats, Bersin said, ‘We should not be spending 90 percent of our time on the 90 percent of the trade in which we have confidence …. It is only by expediting the movement of the trusted shipper and the trusted traveler that we can actually attack and find the needle in the haystack.’

Commissioner Bersin stated that CBP needs to “stop acting first and listening second,” and he renewed his pledge of increasing the sense of partnership between CBP and the private sector. 

As summarized best in Global Trade News, the Commissioner outlined 3 specific points he has for advancing CBP’s objective to improve trade facilitation:

  • Increase participation in C-TPAT, Global Entry, and other trusted trade and traveler programs to, as he put it, “perform segmentation of customers” and focus on high risk “needle in the hay stack;”;
  • Stop looking at borders as lines of demarcation or barriers and start treating them like dynamic flow of goods and people; and
  • Improve targeting to not only provide security but also to offer the benefit of improved trade facilitation and show value to the trade for their effort in providing more data earlier in the supply chain.

I’m not yet ready to say Commissioner Bersin is my hero, however, I am saying welcome to our new leader at U.S. Customs.