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Strengthening Relations With Thailand

A visit by officials from the Thai Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) is being welcomed as an opportunity to strengthen a key bilateral relationship and support ongoing work to combat the illicit transnational narcotics trade in the Asia-Pacific region.

From 6 to 9 June 2023, ONCB officials will be visiting New Zealand. Co-hosted by the New Zealand Customs Service and New Zealand Police, the visit will focus on illicit drug smuggling, including prevention, intelligence and detection.

The delegation will visit Customs sites in Auckland and Wellington including Auckland International Airport, the Integrated Targeting and Operations Centre, as well as meet with Customs’ Detector Dog Unit.

Jamie Bamford, Customs Deputy Chief Executive - International and Governance, said this visit is an important opportunity to continue the growing momentum in New Zealand’s close relationship with Thailand.

“Our liaison officer based in Bangkok provides a strategic and crucial link to maintaining and enhancing this important relationship. Visits like this cement that bilateral relationship, providing a face-to-face opportunity to share expertise with like-minded agencies who are combatting the illicit narcotics trade, which is a major security risk across Asia-Pacific.

“There are significant opportunities in our region to share capabilities and learn from each other. Just last week, we formalised a new Customs Mutual Recognition Arrangement with our Thai counterparts, which will further strengthen a well-established trading relationship by fast-tracking high-security exporters between our countries.

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“Customs and Police also recently completed a training programme with Thailand and countries in Southeast Asia's 'Golden Triangle', where methamphetamine smuggling has spiked in recent years,” Mr Bamford said.

Two kiwi intelligence experts from Customs and Police ran a week-long training session (21-27 May) at the Narcotic Control College in Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand, a facility operated by ONCB. It covered the collection and use of intelligence, and was attended by 25 officials from law enforcement agencies across Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam.

Editor’s note:

· Customs Counsellor Southeast Asia, David Radovanovich, is based in Bangkok and available for media interviews about our work with ONCB and Thai Customs Department. Please contact the Customs Communications & Media team if you would like to speak to David about our work in the region.

· Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia and New Zealand’s tenth largest trading partner, with two-way trade worth $4.4 billion for the year ended June 2022. Customs officials from New Zealand and Thailand signed a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), at the World Customs Organization regional heads meeting being held in Perth, Australia, last week. More information is available here.

· Basic Intelligence Training was funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Global Security Fund.

· Total quantities of methamphetamine sourced from East and Southeast Asia vs. other regions (New Zealand Customs methamphetamine seizure data)

 20182019202020212022
East and Southeast Asia 69 kg 561 kg 53 kg 200 kg 806 kg 
Other regions 204 kg 674 kg 260 kg 574 kg 458 kg 
Total 273 kg 1,235 kg 313 kg 774 kg 1,264 kg

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