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.”
A panel discussion was held on “Mitigating Challenges Posed by Courier Services” preceded by introductory presentations by Japan Customs and the WCO. The exponential growth of e-commerce, the lack of regulations for courier services, criminal exploitation of e-commerce and the demands to facilitate trade were considered.
The conference was apprised of the WCO instruments and tools for e-commence and the new framework of standards on cross border e-commerce which will be completed soon. Japan suggested advanced information, data exchange between e-commerce operators and Customs and risk management techniques using x-rays and artificial intelligence as key to overcoming these challenges.
The conference noted that the organisation will be advancing to become a treaty organization by the 41st Conference. Discussions were also held on the policies and procedures of the organisation as it transition from an MOU organisation to a treaty organisation, the strategic plan for the Regional Clearance System (a small vessel clearance system) and IT governance. The need to train staff from the supervisory level was considered to be a pivotal part of capacity building and CCLEC is looking at options on how it could assist the region in this area.
Mr Albert Sandy, a national of St Lucia, was appointed Permanent Secretary of CCLEC. Mr Sandy is a career Customs officer with specialization in Intelligence and Enforcement. The conference also welcomed Steven Perinchief, a Bermuda national, to the CCLEC/WCO Joint Intelligence Office. Mr Perinchief will head the office with assistance from two staff from the Dominican Republic.
The next Conference will be held in Cuba in 2019.