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Amazon, eBay, Carriers to Help Feds ID Illicit and Dangerous Imports

US Customs and Border Protection
Amazon, eBay, Carriers to Help Feds ID Illicit and Dangerous Imports

eBay, Amazon, and shipping carriers will send data about small, low-value packages arriving from abroad to the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as part of a pilot program.

The Section 321 Data Pilot is a voluntary collaboration with online marketplaces, carriers, technology firms and logistics providers to secure ecommerce supply chains and protect American consumers, the CBP announced on Thursday.

It’s designed to help the agency perform more effective and efficient targeted screening with respect to Section 321 shipments. That relates to Section 321(a)(2)(C) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended. “With these additional details, CBP will be able to focus more resources on high-risk shipments while expediting the clearance of legitimate shipments.”

Last month, CBP expanded the scope of the pilot by accepting data for shipments arriving by ocean and international mail, and it extended the pilot through August 2021.

The pilot program is currently limited to nine participants, and the CBP plans to expand access to “all interested and qualified participants” in early 2020. The current participants are Amazon, eBay, Zulily, FedEx, DHL and UPS, as well as technology firm PreClear and logistics providers XB Fulfillment and BoxC Logistics.

The CBP Acting Commissioner was quoted in the announcement saying the pilot was a significant step toward executing the agency’s overall ecommerce strategy. “CBP has worked closely with the trade community to identify appropriate information that will advance the trade enforcement mission of CBP, and our partner government agencies, while preserving the facilitation of low-value shipments which American consumers rely upon.”

Customs and Border Protection also said in its release:

“Combined with the exponential growth of the online shopping market in the United States over the past five years, CBP has seen a significant increase in small, low-value packages. In fact, today CBP processes more than 600 million express consignment and international mail shipments a year – approximately 1.8 million a day. The unprecedented growth in volume of these low-value shipments requires creative solutions to interdict illicit and dangerous products to enter the United States, including illicit narcotics, unregulated prescription drugs, brand counterfeits, and unsafe food and beauty products.”

According to its description, “CBP is charged with securing our nation’s borders & facilitating lawful international travel & trade.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

3 thoughts on “Amazon, eBay, Carriers to Help Feds ID Illicit and Dangerous Imports”

  1. Just sounds like more useless government job creating to me. To bad the Post Office doesn’t fix the problems they have with delivering the mail instead of creating more jobs that mean exactly nothing. This is like the Senate creating jobs to find out why the grass is greener after it rains.

  2. I think it’s about time the government is taking measures to better protect American consumers and businesses from foreign thieves. It’s interesting that Etsy hasn’t stepped up to the plate. I guess the other marketplace sites can handle a significant loss to their so-called inventory when they rat on the thieves they’ve been making tons of money on.

    Sellers on marketplace sites should see a significant drop in the fakes they’ve been competing with for so long…IF this pilot program does what it should. Even if Etsy doesn’t jump aboard, these thieves do sell on multiple sites like the rest of us. So, if they get caught, they should be put out of business on all sites. It will be interesting to see how Etsy fairs the loss of that “inventory”.

    Will such marketplace sites that depend so much on those illegal goods be forced to start treating their American sellers better? Will they be able to regain any of those sellers they ran off to rebuild their “inventory”? It remains to be seen.

  3. What’s interesting here is that aside from the carriers and logistics firms, Amazon and Zulily are both actual ecommerce retailers and of course eBay is a marketplace.

    So the question what precisely is eBay’s functional role in this CBP pilot?

    As a non-asset based marketplace without trucks, DCs, warehouses, or (importantly) actual product inventory of their own, where does eBay fit into the equation “of obtaining certain data from e-commerce importers and service providers and how to more effectively use it to identify and target high-risk shipments, such as narcotics, health and safety violations and other criminal activity.”?

    We know that eBay ‘helps’ their China manufacturer supplier-sellers warehouse goods in the US, but in what capacity exactly?

    Surely eBay is not the U.S. Consignee or Importer of Record for their China sellers in ‘helping’ them warehouse their goods? … or are they?

    If so, that’s an awful lot of ‘help’ that eBay is providing their China manufacturer partners! (all the while of course telling US & UK merchants that “eBay will never compete with our sellers!”

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