Newswise — WASHINGTON – The Borders, Trade, and Immigration Institute (BTI), a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) Center of Excellence (COE) led by the University of Houston, recently released a report on the challenges posed by emerging technologies to cross-border e-commerce. This independent study was conducted to help Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its stakeholders understand how to leverage these new technologies, which provide economic advantages, better risk assessment capabilities and expand CBP’s data-sharing efforts.  

Advancements in technology have fostered a steadily-increasing competitive e-commerce marketplace, which has changed the way global trade is conducted. With the rise in e-commerce, there is an increased risk of trade violation, and the potential for the release of harmful or unsafe goods. According to the report, (PDF, 150 pgs. , 9.12 MB) lack of pre-arrival data such as seller information, product identifiers or product classification can lead to delayed processing times and can potentially compromise import safety and security. Adopting emergent technological advancements can be a crucial strategy to effectively overcome the data gaps that are present with the rise in e-commerce.

BTI developed a variety of options to mitigate the data sharing gaps, including establishing new and effective authorized economic operator (AEO) programs specifically tailored to the cross-border e-commerce marketplace and require data sharing regardless of data laws. Current AEO doctrine is not applicable to e-commerce. Additionally, the team found that providing AEO certification to compliant stakeholders and developing a new federated data platform and information and communications technology infrastructure can both increase the probability of CBP gaining accurate data as well as increase economic efficiency for customers, importers and other relevant stakeholders.

“With more of the market relying on e-commerce, it is even more critical that we do what we can to protect it  from bad actors in this ever-evolving digital marketplace,” said S&T Program Manager Theophilos Gemelas.

Funded by S&T’s Office of University Programs (OUP), BTI develops technology-based tools, techniques, and educational programs for transnational border management, immigration, and trade facilitation. BTI has had the opportunity to work closely and support CBP, and for this project partnered with CBP’s Business Transformation and Innovation Division (BTID) within the Office of Trade.

“These types of partnerships are critical to the success of our homeland security mission and ensure DHS remains at the forefront with ground-breaking research and innovative solutions,” said David Taylor, CBP Portfolio Manager at S&T. As new technologies are developed and integrated throughout the global market, BTI will be able to identify and assess the efficacy of these products and research ways to help strengthen CBP’s security efforts.

“Our academic partners have been key players in helping S&T support our colleagues in CBP and the overall DHS mission,” said Gemelas. “Enhancing trade facilitation security is vital to protecting our nation and the BTI team’s research will help CBP maintain a safe marketplace for stakeholders every step of the way.”

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