Address by the PS on the occasion of the observance of 2024 International Customs Day

The Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council wishes to extend congratulations and best wishes to all regional Customs Administrations and the wider international Customs fraternity on the occasion of International Customs Day, being celebrated on January 26, 2024. The significance of this day and date is linked to the origins of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) and this year’s theme is dedicated to: “Customs Engaging Traditional and New Partners with Purpose”.  This theme is relevant to us in the region as we transition into a treaty-based organisation, but more importantly as we embrace the significance of new trends and opportunities for improving and enhancing the role of customs administrations within the respective countries.

The work of Customs in the region remains strategically important to achieving Governments’ fiscal targets as well as other economic and social policy imperatives. The customs mandate is ever expanding beyond the traditional roles, for example, to incorporate environmental issues within the context of climate change and the thrust towards implementing sustainable development goals. There are also threats and concerns related to cyber security and the impact of technology including artificial intelligence (AI) on the operating systems and processes. There is an urgent need to reassess and improve the skills sets of customs officials, in view of placing greater emphasis on data management and analytics, to facilitate the effective use of risk management systems and intelligence led decision-making at all levels of the organisations.

Our law enforcement and revenue recovery efforts must be focused on greater collaborative approaches between Customs administrations on one hand and the wider network of law enforcement capabilities at the regional and international levels. Information and data exchange has become the lifeblood of our existence and tendencies towards insularity and a reluctance to securely share pertinent information is hindering our progress. The value of the CCLEC, CARICOM IMPACS and the WCO will never be fully realized if we continue to restrict ourselves in these ways.

CCLEC 45th Annual Conference – Cayman Islands

The 45th Conference of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) was held in the Cayman Islands from June 5-9, 2023. Twenty-five member administrations and a number of strategic partners attended the conference which took place at the Westin Hotel hosted with the full support of the Director and staff of the Customs Border Control Service.

Mr Ian Saunders of the USA, a candidate for the post of Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), delivered the Keynote address. In his address, Mr Saunders shared his vision for leading the WCO to provide high-quality, responsive services to its members by drawing on its rich past, optimizing present efforts, and driving Customs toward a safe, prosperous, and inclusive future.   He highlighted the intersection of WCO work with matters of importance to CCLEC members and the importance of cultivating customs cooperation within the WCO as well as beyond WCO membership.

The conference showcased a number of presentations of best practice initiatives and progress made on reforms by regional and international Customs administrations including Bermuda, Cayman Islands Jamaica, Turks and Caicos’ Islands, India Customs Service, and the World Customs Organisation. The meeting also received presentations and pledges of support from the Caribbean Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), the Institute of Export and International Trade, and the Western Europe RILO.

CCLEC Representatives Meet with WCO Secretary General

CCLEC Permanent Secretary, Claude Paul, along with representatives from St. Lucia, Bermuda and the Netherlands met with the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, and representatives of the Compliance and Enforcement Directorate to discuss matters of mutual interest. This included a revision of the current MOU between CCLEC and WCO, exploring ways to improve information exchange including with non-WCO members, and identifying areas for collaborating in capacity building to enhance operations of Customs administrations.

Message from the Permanent Secretary

I wish to take this opportunity to extend greetings to all member administrations as we usher in the New Year. 2023 will be a pivotal year for the Caribbean Customs community as we work together to restore our position on the regional landscape particularly in law enforcement, contributing to border security, efficiency in trade matters and effective revenue protection and collection.

Our number priority is to complete the transition from CCLEC to the Caribbean Customs Organisation (CCO) by finalizing the ratification process for the new CCO Treaty within the respective member countries. This will be an immediate boost to the image of this organisation and will certainty help with the realignment of our strategic goals and determining a new direction based on membership needs and priorities.

Customs Administrations are essential to fulfill the mandates of their respective governments by working with other agencies on the national front. There is an increasing awareness of the urgency to cooperate on a regional basis through engagement with established institutions involved in trade and related matters. The success of our region is heavily dependent on engendering a cooperative ethos within a regional space pregnant with new opportunities and possibilities for collaboration.  The current environment of fierce competition for limited resources and overlapping agendas must be replaced by a recognition of the respective areas of competence and strengths and a genuine effort to work together by forging better relationships between customs administrations, the business communities and other regional partner organisations.

International Customs Day 2022

Congratulations to the Customs fraternity on this special day which has been designated as International Customs Day by the WCO. This year the chosen theme, “Scaling up Customs Digital Transformation by Embracing a Data Culture and Building a Data Ecosystem,” is very fitting as the pandemic has acted as a most powerful catalyst to force many countries to accept technology as a fundamental part of their business culture.
Digitization of all Customs procedures is the way forward and a strategy to exploit all data is critical to assist with decision making. Today every Customs administration has an automated system that facilitates online submission of cargo and passenger information and declaration processing. However, to maximize collected data usage, Customs must use technological solutions to enhance its effectiveness to ensure compliance. Therefore, Customs must quickly develop or adopt existing analytical tools and enhance departmental, human resource capacity to assist with the daily, functional usage of data in all border-related activities.

UWI Open Campus Delivers Train-the-trainer training 

In the interest of building capacity, the CCLEC has commenced a train-the-trainer program, in collaboration with UWI Open Campus to develop the training skills of a cadre of regional officers. The main objective of the program is to equip officers with pedagogic skills to become professional trainers within their departments.  They will also serve as trainers for delivering CCLEC online courses among member countries.  The acquisition of skill, knowledge, and expertise provides the basis for the efficient and effective management of the operations of any organization. With limited resources to hire external experts, it is especially significant for small developing countries to develop their skills and become less reliant on external support.

 

Forty-one officers from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, St Vincent, St. Kitts/Nevis, and the Turks & Caicos Islands benefited from the training.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Volcanic Eruption : Message from Customs Comptroller

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the La Soufriere volcano is located at the northern side on the island.  After effusively erupting since December, 2020, it explosively erupted on 9th April, 2021 and continues to erupt explosively emanating clouds of ash throughout the island. It also generated pyroclastic density currents along the north western and north eastern valleys of the island. Thankfully, there has been no confirmed loss of lives. Nevertheless, it has left the island gloomy and desolate in some areas.

 

As a consequence of the disaster, the water catchment area has been compromised, adversely affecting the limited water supply. Six (6) members of the Customs and Excise staff have been displaced from their homes and are accommodated either at guest houses or with family members and friends. Members of staff are coping well despite being emotionally distressed. The airspace has been closed but the seaports are open in particular for humanitarian aid and normal business.

 

We are extremely grateful to the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) and our fellow Customs and Excise Divisions and Customs Sports Association across the Caribbean as well as other regional bodies for the expressed love, kindness and support during this difficult period.

 

PS CCLEC Statement on the Slaying of Nigel Christian –  Antiguan Customs and Excise Officer  10th July 2020

The Caribbean Customs  Law Enforcement Council laments the abduction July 10th 2020 and subsequent slaying of Antiguan Customs and Excise Officer Nigel Christian.   The brazen and brutal manner of his abduction and killing has left the Antiguan, Caribbean and International Customs community in shock. We unitedly condemn his slaying and are confident that the Government…