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Trans-Tasman talks closer Customs co-operation

Trans-Tasman talks lead to closer Customs co-operation

Australian and New Zealand Customs organisations have agreed to further develop their strong working relationship to enhance border security in their respective countries and in the Pacific Region.

This was the result of Trans-Tasman talks held in Sydney today between the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, and his New Zealand counterpart, Minister of Customs, Rick Barker.

Also present at the meeting were Australian Customs Service Chief Executive Officer, Lionel Woodward, and New Zealand Customs Service Comptroller, Robin Dare.

The discussions were held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Agreement.

In a joint communiqué issued by Senator Ellison and Minister Barker at the end of today's talks, there was agreement that the two Customs organisations would:

· continue to co-operate and exchange information about smuggling - especially drugs - fraud and money laundering, particularly in the Pacific; · further enhance air and sea cargo security; · explore areas of providing further technical assistance and capacity building assistance to developing countries in the area of trade facilitation; and · keep each other informed of policy and operational approaches to counter-terrorism, SARS and border protection matters generally.

Senator Ellison said there had been consensus that Australian and New Zealand Customs would work even closer together to strengthen the ties that already exist between the two organisations.

"I am pleased that the outcome of these talks will prove mutually beneficial - not just to our two Customs organisations but for the benefit of both our nations in matters of border security, fighting crime and in international trade," Senator Ellison said.

As Trans-Tasman neighbours, Minister Barker said New Zealand and Australia had much in common and it was excellent to see the Customs arms of both countries sharing knowledge and experience.

"In today's changed world environment, I hope my meetings with Senator Ellison this week will also help cement the improved border and trade security measures both our countries are now faced with," Minister Barker said.

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