Current CBP Pilots
While CBP’s Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) has automated the large majority of U.S. trade processes, blockchain has the ability to further remove redundant paper-based processes, such as hard copy signature verification of the origin of goods from certain countries. Blockchain would allow for the simultaneous sharing of verification data across multiple government and private entities in a given supply chain. These early tests also allow CBP to develop internal IT requirements and begin working with industry to identify an interoperable standard among different blockchain systems to allow for a broader scale exchange of data with its public and private partners.
While blockchain has potential benefits for greater speed and reliability of data transfer than traditional automation, just as the case has been with developing ACE as the U.S. single window, CBP would face challenges with integrating the technology across U.S. partner government agencies (PGAs), who have shared responsibility in validating goods as they enter the country.
While CBP’s blockchain tests appear promising to many advocates of the technology, it should be recognized that the agency will not likely be attempting a wide-scale adoption any time in the near future. The outcome of the current tests will, to an extent, contribute to CBP’s pace in conducting further tests, but it is more likely that CBP’s longer-term future with blockchain will be determined by how quickly the agency is driven to adapt to the private sector’s pace and scale of the technology’s use. It is also possible that regional field offices or local ports around the U.S. will conduct their own limited tests with certain carriers.