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Customs' Secure Export Partnership Pilot Programme

Hon Rick Barker

Recognition of support to Port of Napier and Richmond Ltd for participating in Customs' Secure Export Partnership Pilot Programme

Fri, 26 Mar 2004

Two Hawke's Bay companies have received thanks for participating in Customs' secure export programme


Welcome, especially to Sam Robinson from Richmond Meats, Grant Whitfield from Port of Napier and Caryll Shailer from the Meat Industry association.

It's great to be home and to see real progress being made in the Trade assurance programme.

Richmond Meats Ltd and the Port of Napier - two outstanding Hawke's Bay companies - are making a significant contribution to New Zealand's security through their willingness to work with Customs.

The supply chain security strategy that we are working on is vitally important to the security of New Zealand's trade. It is all about ensuring the facilitation of our trade into international markets.

Looking outwards it will help protect our traders and our reputation as a safe trading partner in an increasingly uncertain world, by providing assurance that goods from New Zealand are safe.

All of you here know that a good reputation is a valuable commodity that every good business is willing to pay to protect.

There are a few people who still ask why we have to do anything. To answer that, let me point to the headlines from Madrid on March 12.

It is a sad fact of life in this century that no one is immune to terrorist violence. I'm sure those people going to work on the train in Madrid did not see themselves as targets, any more than New Zealanders see themselves as targets.

The Government is concerned that we do not leave the door open for New Zealand to be used as a safe haven - a bolt hole for terrorists or a platform for launching an attack elsewhere.

And that's where trade security comes in. We send almost half a million shipping containers overseas every year - to Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States. We send airfreight and mail all over the world.

Our export destinations are increasingly taking measures to ensure that they do not import anything undesirable.

These security measures have the potential to slow down our trade. Slow trade is not good for us so we need to ensure that our goods pass these checks as quickly as possible.

We have to take responsibility for ensuring we are not exporting risk, and we have to demonstrate that security assurance to our trading partners.

Richmond is a responsible company and we know their product is not a risk. But do we know that no one can interfere with their product - slip something else in perhaps?

I'm pleased to say that in Richmond's case we do have that confidence, because today we are acknowledging that the security at their Pacific plant in Hawke's Bay is adequate for the New Zealand Customs Secure Export partnership programme. We look forward to seeing their other plants make the same grade.

The Secure Export Partnership programme is one of four key parts of Customs supply chain security strategy.

Those four elements are

· Accurate electronic information · Risk assessment · Examination of cargo identified as potential risk · And voluntary agreements to reduce risk - the Secure Export Partnership programme.

We're making good progress in developing all those areas in the export sector and let me just update you briefly.

Accurate electronic information

At the start of this month, Customs changed the rules around exports, so that information had to be lodged electronically before goods were shipped. That was a significant change for many exporters and I want to thank them for making the change so successfully. There were a few teething problems, and I'm sure our friends from the Port of Napier could tell us about those, but thanks to a great co-operative effort across ports, carriers, freight forwarders and exporters, we had no major crises.

There's still some refinement of systems going on, but we can put a tick alongside accurate electronic information.

We can also put a tick alongside risk assessment. Customs has good systems in place to do this - the computer system CusMod, is able to sort through large volumes of information and identify risk triggers very quickly . but only with the input from Customs officers and especially the intelligence analysts, to tell it what to look for.

In fact the system's so good that MAF want to use it as a basis for risk assessment of incoming sea containers, and there's a project underway working on that.

The third element is examination of cargo, and this is where the government is having to make a major investment in Customs' capability.

The expectation now on Customs is that we give exports a similar level of attention to that of imports. Export security screening is our assurance to foreign markets of the safety of our goods and is pivotal to ensuring that they are cleared rapidly without any unnecessary hold-ups.

It will also help ensure our goods continue to move should there be any disruptions to world trade because of security incidents or the threat of such incidents.

That means extra staff and extra resources. Today I have seen some of the new space created at Customs' base in Napier that was required to accommodate the five extra staff coming on board here.

It is a similar approach being taken around the country, because Customs is committed to a nationwide approach.

New Zealand traders don't want to be told they can only ship out of a few ports where there's a Customs presence - rather, Customs has to be where the traders want to operate.

And that principle has driven our investment in x-ray technology.

I'm pleased to announce today that Customs has signed a contract for the delivery of 10 new pieces of x-ray equipment, with one more to come.

The Government is providing the capital for the purchase of

· Three X-ray trucks capable of scanning an entire sea container · Two fixed site X-ray units capable of scanning the largest aircraft loading units ("air cans") or a motor vehicle · Five X-ray trailers, similar to the existing units in Auckland and Christchurch

This equipment is coming from the company Smiths Detection. We are also negotiating to purchase a 'back-scatter" x-ray van (capable of scanning stacked containers, vehicles and other goods). One of the new trailers will be based here in Napier, meaning that Cyril and his team will have the ability to unpack a container, and put the contents through the x-ray without having to open every box. I'm told it takes a fraction of the time of a physical inspection where every package has to be opened.

This means Customs can check risk goods with minimal delay to the supply chain.

And of course all this technology will be used to screen goods coming in to the country as well, enhancing our protection of New Zealand and New Zealanders.

I'm proud of the innovative, leading edge solutions New Zealand Customs has come up with. But don't take my word for it, let me quote Robert Bonner, the Commissioner of US Customs who said: "New Zealand has developed and is implementing some of the world's best practices."

One part of our programme that Commissioner Bonner was particularly interested in was the development of electronic seals for shipping containers.

These compact devices will hold all the information about a container's contents and will signal if a container has been tampered with while in transit. Customs staff will be able to remotely read information about a container's status, with the information being fed direct into a computer system.

Not surprisingly, with all these abilities it is taking a while to get the seals right, and also to make them affordable. But new trials will shortly be starting at the Ports of Napier and Auckland.

It is a development that has great potential, and we just couldn't do it without the support of pilot partners like the Port of Napier.

I also need to thank the port of Auckland and Ion Automotive for their support of the electronic seal project. Without this sounding like an Oscar speech I also want to thank industry generally for their willingness to cooperate in all aspects of our supply chain security strategy.

We have one outstanding issue, which is the consultation that is currently underway on how to recover the costs of this increased capability in future years. I am confident with the good sense industry has shown so far, we can resolve that issue as well.

I look forward to hearing about the results of the security seal tests and the introduction of Customs' new x-ray capabilities throughout the country. Making sure our exports reach their destinations without delay is a key part of the supply chain security programme and I'm delighted to see that process has now reached its next phase.

Thank you.

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