Executive order to streamline trade signed

Feb 21, 2014

In an odd twist, the government made a move to reduce bureaucratic hoops for American businesses last week.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed the “Streamlining the Export/Import Process for America’s Businesses” executive order. Among other things, the order aims to cut down processing and approval times for small businesses seeking to export American-made products or services abroad. According to White House fact sheets, businesses who wish to export goods or services must submit data—often using physical paper forms—to several agencies and the process can take days or weeks.

The executive order would see the creation of the International Trade Data System (ITDS) by December 2016. In his order, Obama said the ITDS—characterized as an electronic “single-window” system—is needed “to modernize and simplify the way that executive departments and agencies interact with traders.”

Though it is unclear from the order exactly what the ITDS will entail or how it would appear to end users, descriptions of its required functions listed in the order suggest an electronic portal system or website. The order also requires the timeline for the creation of the ITDS be made publicly available, and involved agencies “shall take such steps as are necessary to meet the timeline, including timely completion of all appropriate agreements, including memoranda of understanding, and other required documents that establish procedures and guidelines for the secure exchange and safeguarding of data among agencies and, as appropriate, with other federal government entities.”

In addition to the creation of the ITDS, the order calls for the creation of the Border Interagency Executive Council (BIEC). As described in the order, the BIEC will be an interagency working group chaired by the Secretary of Homeland Security and funded by Homeland Security. This group will be in charge of, among other things, coordinating between existing trade-related safety agencies and improving identification of illicit trade. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor