Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler,??delivering the feature address at the Opening Ceremony of the XXXIII Annual Conference of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Customs officials worldwide have to collaborate if they are to effectively combat the threats to national security being faced today.

This was underscored today by Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Chris Sinckler, as he delivered the feature address at the Opening Ceremony of the XXXIII Annual Conference of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.

Referring to the significant threat posed by drugs being trafficked through Caribbean airports to communities in the region, Mr. Sinckler noted it was, therefore, imperative that the problem was tackled from a regional perspective by collaborating to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the systems and controls implemented at our airports.??

He said customs administrations worldwide played a pivotal role in the implementation of a range of "critically important Government policies". "They contribute to the achievement of a number of national development objectives in respect of trade facilitation, trade statistics, revenue collection, market access and the protection of society from a range of threats to national security," he maintained.

Mr. Sinckler, however, pointed out that with the advent of several new trading arrangements such as the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), customs officials would again face some other challenges.

"The EPA will create two specific effects, namely, the export effect and the revenue effect.?? The export effect involves the opportunities created through improved access to European and regional markets, as well as other investment opportunities.???? However, the revenue effect will undoubtedly be an enormous challenge for CARIFORUM States, since the removal of high tariffs may mean a loss of substantial revenue collected by customs administrations throughout the region.

"The EPA Agreement will require CARIFORUM States to liberalise 86.9 per cent of the value of its imports over 25 years, with 52.8 per cent after five years; 61.1 per cent taking place in the first 10 years and 82.7 per cent within the first 15 years," Mr. Sinckler underlined.

The Finance Minister told his audience of regional and international customs officials that as a result of the growing complexities of trading patterns worldwide, increasing pressure was being placed on customs agencies across the world to maintain the integrity of the trading system and to protect borders "from new and emerging threats."??

In response to all of these challenges, the Finance Minister indicated the CCLEC had placed greater emphasis in promoting essential capacity building initiatives, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of customs administrations to deliver significant dividends for regional Governments.

One such initiative is the CCLEC Customs Education Program, which was developed in collaboration with the University of Canberra. It provides a learning path for Customs Officers who are seeking to further develop their professional skills.??


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