In observance of International Customs Day, the WCO’s theme for 2023 is “Nurturing the next generation: promoting a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride in Customs.” This theme is very relevant to the Customs fraternity in the region and the CCLEC is committed to working with member administrations to build capacity in keeping with this goal.
Customs is a complex organisation with multi-facetted functions and responsibilities that are often misunderstood and underestimated even by business leaders, government officials, and the general public. Most people tend to focus on the revenue collection role, which invokes emotional responses from those who are required to pay border taxes on importation. In this region, customs duties are relatively high compared to more developed and emerging countries, and in some instances represent over 50% of the annual revenue yield in some of our smaller economies. Governments have become very reliant on Customs and VAT for financing a major part of annual budgets. Notwithstanding the above, it is important to point out that the mission of Customs in today’s context includes a fiscal element (revenue collection) an economic element (implementing government policies), and a protection and security element (law enforcement and compliance). All three aspects are intrinsically linked to international trade. 
Those charged to perform the duties of a Customs officer must be well trained, knowledgeable of various legislation, regulations, directives, and administrative instructions. They must also be equipped with the necessary tools to effectively and efficiently carry out those duties.
Technological solutions have become necessary to speed up processing however in this region, the expertise required to maintain and continuously develop ICT systems including equipment and software, is limited and, in some instances, nonexistent. Customs must continuously build capacity and adapt to remain relevant and effective in carrying out its responsibilities. The development of the required solutions may be beyond the capacity of individual administrations working on their own.
The CCLEC will soon transition into the Caribbean Customs Organisation (CCO) and offer the opportunity to overcome the challenges of the times by working in partnership with each other as member administrations, with regional and international organisations and governments to find common solutions which will improve revenue collections, safeguard national/regional interests and protect and secure the well being of the people of the region.
Therefore, as we celebrate International Customs Day, we must be cognizant of the importance of the roles being played by Customs Administrations, the limitations and challenges, and the need to work together to nurture a culture of knowledge-sharing and professional pride in Customs. Happy International Customs Day.
 The Multifaceted Role of Customs and Its Importance for the Economy and Society by Gilles Montagnat-Rentier and Christian Bremeersch – Customs Matters (2022) International Monetary Fund