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Work in tandem to combat terror threat, illicit trade

Work in tandem to combat terror threat, illicit trade

Recent terror incidents in India, New Zealand and Sri Lanka have thrown a challenge in the area of Customs administration in Asia-Pacific region, India said today and urged the nations to work in tandem to combat the menace.

Addressing the 20th Conference of the Regional Heads of Customs Administration, Chairman of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) Pranab Kumar Das stressed on timely cooperation to tackle the threats posed by terrorism.

“The Customs administration needs to work in tandem with other national and international security agencies to address terrorism,” Das, who is also regional vice chair of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) Asia/Pacific, said.

Spelling out the focus areas while presenting regional perspective of the WCO, he said the terror incidents in Afghanistan, India, New Zealand and more recently in Sri Lanka “have thrown a challenge and highlighted a pressing need for a greater co-operation and timely cooperation and considered efforts” for meeting such threats.

Concurring with India’s views, WCO secretary-general Kunio Mikuriya said the Asia/Pacific region has suffered due to terrorist attacks including that had happened in New Zealand and Sri Lanka recently.

He said terrorism and illicit trade are very important issues that have to be tackled.

Talking to media on the sidelines of the function, Das said as far as drug trade is concerned customs agencies are having an active real-time basis information exchange with other countries to find out the syndicates operating it, so that necessary action can be taken.

Commenting on the steps to check illicit trade across borders, he said CBIC is planning to put in a risk management system where the entire crossborder trade entities like exporters, importers and suppliers, and entire risk parameters are factored in and taken into account to address the issue.

In his speech, Das reiterated the strategic principles guiding India, in its role as the Vice Chair of the Asia Pacific region, which are: Greater communication and connectivity within the region, harness technology advancements, inclusive approach, and consensus on core issues.

He also highlighted the key focus areas on which considerable emphasis should be placed, such as implementation of trade facilitation measures, cross-border e-commerce transactions, building capacity of small island economies and the on-going review of the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC).

The meeting which concludes on May 10 would take stock of the progress being made in carrying forward the programmes and initiatives of WCO to promote, facilitate and secure the cross-border trade in the region and the capacity- building and technical assistance required to achieve this goal.

Reflecting the importance of the meeting, Customs delegations from more than 20 countries of the Asia Pacific region are participating, along with senior officials of the WCO and its regional bodies including Regional Office for Capacity Building (ROCB).

Recognising the importance of the collaborative approach between Customs and trade, a Trade Day was organised on Tuesday as a precursor to the meeting of the Regional Heads of Customs.

In this day-long deliberation, representatives from trade & industry and think-tanks shared their insights and experiences that are expected to shape the thinking of customs administrations of the region in adopting policies and measures to promote trade facilitation and secure global trade, and promote ethical leadership.

India informed the four-day long conference which began here on Tuesday that Indian Customs has undertaken major reforms in the last few years to facilitate crossborder trade and expedite movement, release and clearance of goods.

These measures have had a salutary effect on the overall transaction cost and time associated with import of goods into and export of goods out of the country.

Due to this, India has recorded a jump of 23 positions against its rank of 100 in 2017 to be placed at 77th spot among 190 countries assessed by the World Bank in its latest Doing Business Report .