The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, and the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Clement Cheung, officiated at a cocktail reception today (January 24) to celebrate the 2014 International Customs Day (ICD).
The theme for ICD this year is "Communication", with the slogan "Sharing Information for Better Cooperation".
Mrs Lam said at the reception that communication is an essential element of corporate governance and public administration - support and understanding of the masses must be secured in shaping our policies to ensure that they meet with prevailing needs and aspirations.
Noting Hong Kong Customs' wide range of duties that span across narcotics interdiction, protection and collection of government revenue on dutiable goods, trade controls and facilitation, intellectual property rights protection and consumer protection, Mrs Lam said, "I believe the key to success in mastering this diverse portfolio rests with partnership and collaboration, not just with counterparts in the law enforcement domain, but also with those in the business sector and the community as a whole."
She praised Hong Kong Customs for its effort in the amendment of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance, which has elevated consumer awareness and increased trade readiness, while the successful implementation of the Authorized Economic Operator Programme has crystallised further facilitative measures to accredited companies. Recognising that communication in the form of intelligence and experience sharing also serves as a powerful tool in enforcement, she applauded the success of Hong Kong Customs in effecting several record seizures of dangerous drugs, illicit tobacco and endangered species in the past years.
Also officiating at the ceremony, Mr Cheung said that communication is at the heart of all successful endeavours. Hong Kong Customs is acutely aware of the need to strike a balance between protection and facilitation. Its partnership with overseas counterparts has been manifested in the form of co-operative arrangements ratified with other jurisdictions, with Argentine, Russian and Vietnam Customs being new additions in 2013. "From a regional perspective, we play an active part in running seminars and workshops to promote intelligence sharing and capacity building," he said, adding that a Workshop on Computer Forensics and a Regional High-level Seminar on Customs Anti-drug Strategy were held in Hong Kong last year.
This year's theme aims to promote communication and information sharing within Customs and with other government agencies, the trade community and the general public. It emphasises the pivotal role of Customs in co-ordinating with different partners for enhancing economic competitiveness and international security. Robust communication enables Customs and the stakeholders to develop mutual understanding on their needs and priorities with a view to strengthening co-operation in combating transnational crime and protecting revenue collection, as well as securing and facilitating trade.
At the reception, Mrs Lam presented the World Customs Organization Certificate of Merit to 19 officers in Hong Kong Customs in recognition of their contribution in international Customs co-operation, Customs-business engagement, intelligence exchange, publicity project work and other initiatives related to communication.
The reception was attended by some 360 guests including Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils, government officials, Consuls General, foreign Customs attaches and representatives from Customs administrations of the Mainland and Macau, as well as private sector stakeholders.
Today's event was the 26th celebration of ICD by Hong Kong Customs since it became a member of the World Customs Organization in 1987.
Ends/Friday, January 24 2014