18 July 2023Article
Green Trade Innovation: Trade Compliance & Sustainability

Woodland Group spoke at the Green Trade Innovations and Incentives Forum held by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the potential incentive programs that could be initiated for 3PLs, Freight Forwarders, Brokers, Importers, and Exporters for a more sustainable future.

Woodland’s US Compliance Manager, Emily Cori joined forces with Woodland Group’s Sustainability Manager, Sam Warren, last week to join the Green Trade Innovations and Incentives Forum held by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Hosted by Lea-Ann Bigelow, Director, Green Trade, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection along with AnnMarie Highsmith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, multiple topics around sustainability and upcoming legislation were discussed by speakers from a variety of business and government backgrounds.

Launched in June 2022, CBP’s Green Trade Strategy governs the agency’s efforts to combat climate change in the context of the trade mission and provides a framework to incentivize green trade, strengthen CBP’s environmental enforcement posture, accelerate green innovation, and improve climate resilience and resource efficiency. Recent studies have indicated that global supply chains contribute a significant amount to the world’s total carbon emissions. In addition, environmental crime represents between $85 billion and $265 billion in criminal revenue each year and is often linked to money laundering and the funding of transnational criminal organizations.

Interagency Investments in Global Sustainability put together panelists from the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Department of State, & the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The panelists discussed the intricacies of developing sustainable solutions for the US and beyond.

Woodland Group presented comments on the potential incentive programs that could be initiated for 3PLs, Freight Forwarders, Brokers, Importers, and Exporters, a considerable step in the right direction for the US, and together for our future planet. We spoke with Branch Chief, Trade Engagement and Communications, OFO, CBP, Carlos Ochoa, and Branch Chief, Trade Compliance, Office of Field Operations U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Carmen Perez, regarding potential working groups and a support structure to develop and implement Green Trade Strategy practices.

Branch Chief Ochoa gave background information on the status of the C-TPAT program and provided data on the program’s cost savings of $22.3 million, from AQUA Lane access in 2022 to the implementation of Forced Labor Compliance.

These programs have supported the creation of growing ESG targets and reduction of carbon emissions from dwellings and wait times at the ports & borders for CBP. Branch Chief Ochoa also spoke on how C-TPAT intends to support the Green Trade Strategy, with potential new Minimum Security Criteria that revolve around green solutions, and good actors in sustainability. The four key avenues of support:

Eligibility Requirements/ Annual Vetting


Leveraging other U.S. Government Agencies work

  • Example: FTC – “Greenwashing”

Minimum Security Criteria


Develop criteria for key entity types.

International Efforts

  • WCO – Supports the European Union’s Current Proposal at the WCO.
  • Work with MRA partners to support the EU proposal.
  • Work with key trade associations – World BASC and SCAN so they may eventually adopt CTPAT’s green trade criteria and requirements and be force multipliers for CBP efforts.



Conducting virtual validations = carbon emissions savings

While these are not definitive changes, C-TPAT is taking the first step in developing sustainability criteria into the Trade Compliance realm with CBP support. This can create several new challenges for companies who are currently members of C-TPAT that are not able to create and develop sustainable solutions. This will require a working group with CBP, C-TPAT, and the trade community to ensure that these key avenues of support do not incur a high cost to the private sector. If this is assessed and coordinated accurately, there could be a huge incentive to the private sector in reducing carbon emissions.

Further discussions were held on the SmartWay Success program, intended to support shippers, 3PLs, brokers, and carriers to integrate into one portal that showcases companies’ environmental performance, and how members may be able to support CBP’s Green Trade Strategy. It is clear from the forum that government agencies will be working together to develop the Green Trade Strategy for future growth within regulation changes, pilot programs, and more digitalization.

With continued discussion ongoing, the intention for the Green Strategy is to incorporate sustainability into the supply chain through multiple sectors. As supply chains are considered the highest culprit of carbon emissions, manufacturers, 3PLs, Brokers, Importers and Exporters should all begin to prepare (if they haven’t already) to incorporate sustainable processes into their business model. Trade Compliance professionals should review the CBP Green Trade Strategy, and review how sustainability processes will be incorporated into future regulations and voluntary program initiatives. This is here to stay, and will continue to develop throughout President Joe Biden’s Dec. 2021 executive order mandating that the US federal government is to become carbon neutral by 2050.

To find out more about dedicated Sustainability and/or Compliance support, please contact us here.

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