U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) has been developing and implementing Centers of Excellence & Expertise (CEEs) for all U.S. industries. The goals of the CEEs are:

  1. To serve as a single point of processing for businesses enrolled in CBP’s trusted shipper programs, such as Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and Importer Self-Assessment (ISA);
  2. To increase industry-based knowledge to segment risk, develop trade facilitation strategies, and enhance enforcement; and,
  3. To serve as a resource for the broader trade community and CBP’s U.S. government partners.

The CEEs continue CBP efforts to increase uniformity of practices across ports of entry, facilitate the timely resolution of trade compliance issues nationwide, and further strengthen critical agency knowledge on key industry practices. They represent CBP’s expanded focus on “Trade in the 21st Century,” transforming customs procedures to align with modern business. By having the CEEs focus on industry-specific issues, CBP is able to provide tailored support to unique trading environments.

The CEE for Apparel, Footwear, & Textiles officially opened for applications on June 3, 2013, with six initial companies, including some United States Fashion Industry Association (formerly USA-ITA) member companies. Dora Murphy, Director of the CEE for AFT, has said that CBP will continue to add companies to the CEE as they increase capacity and staff.

The CEE for Apparel, Footwear, & Textiles has been a top priority for the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), formerly the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USA-ITA), and our members. USFIA welcomes the opening of it and inclusion of some USFIA member companies. We look forward to continuing to engage in dialogue with CBP, and particularly the CEE staff, to ensure that this program works for our industry.

USA-ITA (now USFIA) was part of the Industry Working Group for the CEE, which provided recommendations to CBP on how the CEE should work, where it should be located, etc. USA-ITA members participated in an industry survey to provide specific recommendations, which were compiled in a White Paper for CBP. In addition, USA-ITA/USFIA regularly meets with CBP officials, including Director of the CEE for AFT Dora Murphy, to discuss updates and our views. More information on our industry and our CEE is available here.

USA-ITA (now USFIA) hosted one of the first public presentations by the CEE’s Director Dora Murphy, during our West Coast Seminar on February 21, 2013, in San Francisco. USFIA welcomed her again to our Summer Seminar on June 19, 2013, and annual conference on November 6, 2013, in New York City. USFIA remains active in promoting additional webinars and other information by Ms. Murphy and looks forward to continuing to work with her and her team in the future.