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U.S. Customs Works To Make Port Areas More Automated For Faster Clearance

st thomas port area

CHARLOTTE AMALIE – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to assess a viable way to incorporate the U.S. Virgin Islands into the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) to expedite the importation process.

San Juan Field Office Assistant Director for Trade, Edward Ryan, and ACE Single Window Director, Stephen Hilsen, recently visited the port area of St. Thomas to gather information about the current cargo clearance process in the USVI in which all custom entries are made by Customs Business Service companies (“filers”) and importers in person.

The current process lacks electronic communication from the filers to CBP, hence, a heavy paper environment is created in all USVI ports of entry.

In addition, CBP visited local USVI customs business service companies to gather information about the needs of the trade community that can improve and facilitate the customs declaration process.

“We need to make the trade entry process in the USVI more customer friendly,” Ryan said. “By automating the customs entry process, we can be more efficient in working in the USVI and also better support our partner government agencies.”

CBP requirements in the USVI are unique because it operates under the Danish Public Law 64; a law that remains in effect since 1914, when the Dutch sold the islands to the U.S.

Federal statutes require CBP to collect customs duties on behalf of the USVI; this is not subject to any other agreements, as well as the authority and broad discretion to administer the customs laws of the USVI.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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