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Ministers Commend Customs Cooperation

TRANS-TASMAN MINISTERIAL TALKS
SYDNEY

22 November 2006

Ministers Commend Active Trans Tasman Customs Cooperation

The Ministers for Customs in Australia and New Zealand, Senator the Hon Chris Ellison and the Hon Nanaia Mahuta met in Sydney, Australia, on 22 November 2006 to discuss trans-Tasman supply chain security, passenger facilitation, joint intelligence operations and customs capacity building in the Pacific.

The Australian and New Zealand Customs Services agreed today to work towards a Trans-Tasman Supply Chain Security Arrangement.

“This provides an opportunity to test the benefits of a supply chain security arrangement for Australian and New Zealand trade”, said Senator Ellison. “The Customs Services will commence a trial with a small group of trans-Tasman traders.”

“In the event of a security incident affecting trans-Tasman trade, the impact on participating companies would be minimised”, said Nanaia Mahuta.

Ministers also noted the potential to develop joint approaches for automated passenger processing to speed up trans-Tasman travel for Australian and New Zealand citizens.

Australia will be introducing next year a biometric-based automatic processing system for Australian citizens holding an electronic passport. It was agreed today to explore including New Zealand as the first international participants in this initiative. New Zealand indicated that it also is investigating options for similar automated border crossing.

Ministers acknowledged the excellent cooperation between the two Customs administrations. “Last month’s seizure of 27 kilos of cocaine from two cargo ships was an excellent example of our administrations working together across the Tasman,” said Senator Ellison.

The two Customs Services agreed to pursue joint intelligence sharing to target key border risks, particularly to combat the illicit diversion of precursors used in the manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants.

The Ministers noted recent events in the Pacific underscored the importance of the ongoing work of Australia and New Zealand in supporting customs modernisation initiatives with our Pacific partners, including the significant contribution to capacity building with Tongan Customs. “This is of fundamental importance to border control and trade facilitation in our region”, said Hon Nanaia Mahuta. It was agreed today to take further steps to strengthen the Oceania Customs Organisation. In pursuit of this, it was agreed to initiate a Pacific-based training program for senior customs officials.

ENDS

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