The CCLEC 40th Conference was convened in Miami from May 23-26, 2018 under the theme Strengthening the Exchange of Information for Integrated Border Management and Risk Management to Facilitate Legitimate Trade”. Twenty two countries were in attendance as well as regional and international organisations. CCLEC was pleased to welcome Japan Customs, who was attending for the first time.

The opening ceremony was chaired by Ms Hazel Edwards of the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA).  Director General of Haiti and Chairman of the 40th Conference, Mr Jean Jorel Janvier, welcomed the delegates and the representative from the WCO, Mr Leigh Winchell, Deputy Director for Compliance and Enforcement delivered the opening address.  The keynote address was delivered by Mrs Velma Ricketts Walker, Commissioner of Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA).

In her address, Mrs Walker noted that the advent of the information technology revolution has resulted in an extremely dynamic Customs environment with many Customs administrations having to respond to exponential increases in the volume of trade. She underlined the use of ICT, Single Window for strengthening the exchange of information and risk management as key to managing the changing landscape.

The region was also urged to be cognisant of the emerging security challenges at its borders. The ongoing unrest in Venezuela, the vulnerabilities associated with the expanding Economic Citizen program and the radicalization of individuals from the region travelling to the Middle East were cited as real border security threats.

She emphasised the need for robust information sharing between Customs administrations and border agencies. She said “If criminal networks can successfully strengthen transnational information sharing and build illicit empires…what of law enforcement? Will we adjust our sails to effectively mitigate against adverse and changing winds? We must answer the call to protect our nation’s borders while facilitating legitimate trade.”