2011 D.C. Trade Symposium

Before a sold-out audience of more than 700 attendees, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trade Symposium 2011 in Washington, D.C., kicked off two days of in-depth meetings with a high-level panel discussion of the common interests of business and governments in promoting secure, efficient international trade.

The panel, moderated by Carla Hills, former U.S. Trade Representative and current CEO of Hills and Co., focused on ways to get to what everyone acknowledged was the objective: the secure, expedited flow of lawful international commerce.

To harmonize the requirements of varying governments and their agencies to facilitate trade, Jayson Myers, president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, highlighted regulations. If regulations are simple and low cost, governments achieve “better compliance, more effective regulation and more effective security as a result,” said Myers.

Achieving harmonization must be done multilaterally, said Jean-Guy Carrier, secretary general of the International Chamber of Commerce, and requires a “coming together of political and economic forces,” which has proven to be very effective.

Trade and investment are the keys to peace and prosperity,” said Carrier.

Francisco Sanchez agreed. Sanchez, under secretary for international trade at the Department of Commerce, cited Vietnam to show that “exports have to play a critical role.” Fifteen years ago, 50 percent of Vietnam’s population lived in poverty. Since the opening of Vietnam’s markets, the poverty level in the country has fallen to 12 percent, said Sanchez.CBP Commissioner Alan D. Bersin said he sees the role of CBP and the U.S. in economic competitiveness as “driving down transaction costs” and “cutting down the friction on moving goods through the supply chain that cross our borders.”At the opening of the symposium, the commissioner and Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar welcomed the attendees, who over the two days will be hearing from influential leaders including U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

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