Customs and Border Protection Transforming V.I. Trade Through Technology

CBP teaches stakeholders about the new Automated Commercial Environment technology.

In 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) started the process to find a practical way to incorporate the U.S. Virgin Islands into the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) in order to expedite the importation process.

In Aug. of 2019, in an event at the Ron De Lugo Federal Building titled “Paving the way forward: Transforming the V.I. Trade through Technology” CBP updated the USVI trade community on the implementation of the cargo automation initiatives.

“Only through a continued commitment to a collaborative approach with the local trade community will we truly accomplish our automation objectives,” said Todd Bellew, area port director for the USVI.

The Automated Commercial Environment is the system through which the trade community reports imports and exports, and the government determines admissibility.

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To familiarize the trade community with the implementation of the electronic submission process using ACE, members of the entry specialist team and Daniel Yannone of Beep Business services provided a live demonstration.

“Stakeholder input continues to be the key to the success of automating the cargo process in the USVI,” said Marcia Murrell, assistant area port director for trade. “We look forward to the continued support of our trade community as we simplify the cargo process.”

In addition to updates on the automation process, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialist Carmen Rodriguez advised stakeholders how to clear imported shipments efficiently by using the APHIS Fruits and Vegetables Import Requirements (FAVIR) database. This database is a public website that allows customers to search for fruits and vegetables by commodity or country, providing a quick and easy way for users to determine basic entry requirements for their specific products.

Among other topics discussed were the area port’s efforts to combat the importation of counterfeit prescriptions and other counterfeit merchandise. “Purchasing prescription medicine can be dangerous and pose a great risk to your health,” said SCBPO Latisha Cannings. “Proceeds from the sales of illicit and counterfeit goods can have a negative impact on the economy.”

The implementation of the cargo automation initiatives comes almost two years after initial implementation plans were disrupted by the devastating hurricanes that wreaked havoc to the USVI in 2017. To this day, the main cargo office facility remains closed.

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