Leaders of customs administrations from the Asia-Pacific have agreed on a new strategy to combat drug smuggling across the region.
The strategy was a major topic of discussion at the World Customs Organization (WCO) Asia-Pacific Regional Heads conference which wrapped up in Port Douglas today.
Conference host and WCO Asia-Pacific Vice-Chair, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) CEO Michael Pezzullo said that the conference provided a platform for robust discussions on the key challenges facing customs administrations as well as emerging priorities and risks in the Asia-Pacific region.
“All customs administrations face the same issues of preventing increasingly sophisticatedcriminal syndicates from penetrating our borders while ensuring legitimate trade and travel can continue to grow for the benefit of all,” Mr Pezzullo said.
“Key outcomes achieved this week include the endorsement of the Asia-Pacific Anti-Drug Strategy, agreement on strategies to strengthen regional borders, and that we will take a regional approach to business engagement.
“We also discussed the support needed to ensure all countries are able to implement the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade Facilitation.”
During the conference ACBPS also signed MOUs with the customs administrations of Malaysia and Timor-Leste, allowing a greater level of communication, operational cooperation and assistance between Australia and the two nations.
The Asia-Pacific Anti-Drug Strategy was co-ordinated by Hong Kong, China and Australia. It provides for additional information and personnel exchanges, and a framework for regional and trans-national joint anti-drugs operations across the region.
“Working together we can take the fight to those who would threaten the borders and the sovereignty of all countries in the region, and stem the flow of illicit drugs into our communities,” Mr Pezzullo said.
The WCO Asia-Pacific conference is followed by the WCO IT Conference and Exhibition in Brisbane from 5-7 May 2014.
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