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U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil KerlikowskeWASHINGTON, DC: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske says the agency's strategy and vision for the next five years will focus on collaboration, innovation and integration.

Kerlikowske (right) said the CBP has four goals: to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime; advance comprehensive border security and border management; improve U.S. economic competitiveness by enabling lawful trade and travel; and promote organizational integration, innovation, and agility.

The 60,000 employees of America's border agency have a budget of US$12.4 billion to enforce 500 laws on behalf of 47 federal agencies. Last year the CBP cleared US$2.5 trillion in imports and US$1.6 trillion in exports via 26 million cargo containers – a four percent increase over 2013.

Kerlikowske, who was director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy prior to his appointment in March last year, said the new outlook "clearly recognizes that CBP must balance border security with enhancing our nation's economic competitiveness. These are two sides of the same coin".

He noted that after the first six months of fiscal year 2015, the agency is on track to reduce its total use of force by nearly 30 percent: "There are times when some level of force must be used, in those instances, the use of force must be justified and within CBP policy. The public's trust in us depends on it," he added.

A typical CBP work day last year included processing more than one million people at 328 land, air, and sea ports; screening more than 70,000 truck, rail, and ocean containers; clearing U$4.4 billion in exports and US$6.8 billion in imports; and seizing more than five tons of illicit drugs.

Acknowledging a "challenging" first year on the job, Kerlikowske said CBP remains focused on streamlining and modernizing its trade processing and trade enforcement processes. They include the Automated Commercial Environment; the "eBond" that lets Customs brokers file electronically to CBP; Air Cargo Advance Screening to identify high-risk shipments prior to loading; and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program designed to strengthen and improve security of global supply chains.

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