Twenty-six (26) delegates across regional and metropolitan Customs Administrations attended the 39th CCLEC Conference which was held at the Sheraton Miami Airport Hotel and Executive Meeting Center, from the 23rd – 25th May, 2017. The theme “Digital partnerships in a connected world” was underlined by two distinguished speakers, Mr. SergioMujica Montes, Deputy Secretary General, World Customs Organization (WCO) and Mr. Ian C. Saunders, Assistant Commissioner, United States Customs & Border Protection (US-CBP).
Among the participants were the Caribbean Postal Union (CPU), CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), Regional Security System (RSS), Inter American Development Bank (IDB), SOGET, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the WCO.
The conference witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Caribbean Postal Union and CCLEC, the objective of the MOU being to foster greater cooperation between both entities, particularly in the area of information sharing.
A number of presentations were made on the reform and modernization of CCLEC operations, including moving the organization for one based on an MOU, to being treaty based. Reports were received on the activities undertaken by the CCLEC Secretariat and the CCLEC/WCO Joint Intelligence Office in addition to presentations related to the theme, trade facilitation and border security.
The following strategic priorities were agreed:
- Ratification of the treaty by 2018
- Improving the automated Customs clearance service provided to yacht operators through the Regional Clearing System
- Data sharing with other agencies to enhance border security
- Development of a strategic threat assessment for the region
A panel discussion centered on capacity building to improve Information Technology (IT) in Customs with special focus on challenges, in-house capacity and legal implications for automating the business process. In the opening presentation, the moderator, Mr. Jeremy Lee, UK Border Force Director, underlined the context and background for the discussion and stressed that Customs should “let computers do the leg-work and keep our people for the jobs that only people can do.”The panelists were represented by Customs experts from US-CBP, Cayman Islands, Jamaica St Kitts and St Lucia and UNCTAD.
During the course of the conference delegates engaged in substantive discussions on integrated automation facilities, data analytics, passenger targeting, strengthening cooperation between law enforcement agencies, information and intelligence sharing.
A presentation on the strengthening of the relationship with IMPACS was of great significance considering the security threat to the region and the need to maximize resources through cooperation and collaboration. The presentation outlined possible areas for information and data sharing, collaboration around information technology development and the delivery of increased value to the membership of both entities.
The conference also recognized the contribution of the United Kingdom’s Border Force International representative, Jeremy Lee. Mr. Lee has been engaged with the region for over twenty (20) years and has been a tremendous asset in advancing the organization’s intelligence and engagement mandate. Through his support the organization has benefited from staffing for the Joint Intelligence Office and development funding for expansion of the CCLEC’s Regional Clearing System (RCS).
Mr. Lee retires in July 2017.