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Detecting smuggling is the task for custom officials – US Commissione

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The United States Customs and Border Protection Commissioner has called on African governments to build stronger relations to help tighten border security, combat human trafficking and the smuggling of hazardous materials.

Addressing the media in Accra, Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said customers and a tautem border security would enhance trade, boost investments and fuel economic growth to create jobs and mitigate poverty on the continent.

He was speaking during a telephonic press briefing organised by the Africa Regional Media Hub.

“The detection of smuggled goods is important to every customs’ service around the world,” he said, “because smuggled goods hurt the economy.”

“They take away from lawful jobs, they harm workers and they undermine the trust that people must have in government,” he added, “so detecting smuggled goods is an important issue for every customs’ service.“

He said smugglers also work very to learn how custom officials operated and did everything they could as organised criminals to try and evade lawful customs’ rules and regulations and duties.

“So we will share with our colleagues in the customs’ services in other countries, and Ghana in particular, what methods we use to try and detect smuggling and I won’t go into those on this call,” he said.

Countries ought to share information about suspicious cargo or people known to have engaged in criminal activity in the past, he said, that type of trust and relationship was only built when there were visits and talks among colleagues.

“That is the type of relationship that can improve the detection of smuggled goods and it’s the type of relationship that also lends to improving trust of people in government.”

Customs and Border Protection in the United States has dual mission of both customs collecting revenue, inspecting cargo, dealing with travelers coming to and from the country.

He said: “So having that dual mission, having a close relationship with a continent that is thriving is the goal of Customs Border Protection.”

“We’ve also expanded our number of international attachés in Africa and having one of our personnel on the ground in Kenya and another one in South Africa.”

The commission has the border security initiative, Kerlikowske said, and “we have over 60,000 employees, we have about 800 people overseas.”

“We have not really had as much of a presence or as much interaction with Africa, particularly from the level of the Commissioner’s Office and the Commissioner himself well over 10 years,” he said.

The commission has championed various initiatives in Africa including South Africa and Tanzania to help fight criminal activities along the borders including wildlife trafficking.

Mr Kerlikowske said the move is to help put Africa at its best in intercontinental trades and relationships which could ease the flow of export and import businesses.

He said the commission would continue to invest in the training of custom officers across the continent through financing education, provision of trainers with in-depth knowledge in cargo management, fraud tracking, and intellectual property rights.

“We have expanded a number of our international attaché’s in Africa to help strengthen border securities”, he said.

He said the initiatives would pave the way for increased investments as investors would like to put in their finances and resources in countries with secure exports and imports mechanisms.

“Investment leads to economic growth and development which transform standard of living,” he said.

Mr Kerlikowske noted that international tourism agencies had also drawn the attention on wildlife trafficking which the commission was initiating and implementing several actions to galvanise African governments backing to tame the act.

But most governments on the continent had been dormant in contributing to the commission’s concerted efforts in combating border crime.

The commissioner also reacted to a question posed by the Ghana News Agency on what has become of previous memorandum of understanding signed between it and the Ghana Revenue Authority in combating border crime.

“The mere signing of the memorandum cannot yield any good results unless, the Authority buys in and participate fully” Kerlikowske said, and urged the government to revive previous deals to take part in its execution so as to make it fruitful.

He said technology played a significant role in customs and border matters which had become more relevant with new mobile applications.

“Technology on cargo, travel, exports and imports would be very appropriate, should we talk about customs and border security measures” he said.

He cited how the use of technology for cargo inspection in Durban, South Africa, had helped boost security and trade with the United States.

Mr Kerlikowske urged governments to reinforce custom laws to regulate the movement of goods and people along borders. GNA

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