´╗┐´╗┐Hong Kong Customs celebrates International Customs Day (with photos)

26 Jan 2010

The Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, and the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Mr Richard Yuen, today (January 26) officiated at a reception to celebrate the 2010 International Customs Day (ICD).

The ICD is an annual event of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) to commemorate the founding of the WCO in 1953 and to promote international Customs co-operation. The theme for this year's ICD was "Customs and Business: Improving Performance Through Partnerships".

Stressing the importance of a partnership between the Customs and business, Mrs Lau said Hong Kong's success was due in no small measure to its having an efficient and business-friendly Customs service.

"Through the establishment of liaison groups, the Hong Kong Customs maintains a close dialogue with the business sector. The regular exchanges have enabled our Customs to understand better how the market operates and bring about the necessary changes and improvement to meet the needs of the Hong Kong business people," she said.

"We will soon roll out the electronic Road Cargo System to facilitate road cargo clearance. The launch of the system will not only mark a new phase of seamless customs clearance, but will also help enhance the efficiency and competitiveness of our logistics industry."

This strong "customs-business" partnership had been extended beyond the scope of traditional customs operations, she said, noting that the tripartite co-operation among the Customs, the Consumer Council and industries had laid a strong foundation for safeguarding consumer interests and helped to promote the integrity of the tourist and retail industries, thereby bolstering the brand of Hong Kong as a shopping paradise.

On intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, Mrs Lau said the Hong Kong Customs had forged an alliance with stakeholders, including proprietors of copyright or trademark, their authorised agents, legal representatives or representative organisations, to tackle the problem of counterfeiting and piracy.

"The alliance has taken forward many IPR protection initiatives, such as the 'E-auctioning with Integrity Scheme', the 'Jewellery Integrity Campaign', the 'Fast Action Scheme' for trade exhibitions and the 'Youth Ambassador Against Internet Piracy Scheme' that help raise public awareness of and respect for IPR," she said.

At the reception, Mrs Lau presented the World Customs Organisation Certificate of Merit to the Consumer Council, six business sector organisations and three officers of the Hong Kong Customs in recognition of their notable contributions to the implementation and enhancement of the "customs-business partnership".

Also speaking at the reception, Mr Yuen said this year's ICD was different from previous celebration days.

"What makes this year special is the WCO has decided not only to dedicate the International Customs Day to 'Customs and Business: improving performance through partnerships' but also to award, for the first time, WCO certificates of merit to individuals and organisations outside the Customs community,

"The choice of the theme and the decision to award WCO certificates of merit to outside individuals and organisations reflects a growing recognition within and outside the international Customs community that Customs has an important role to play not only in protecting public revenue and the security of the borders but also in facilitating trade and promoting economic growth. It also represents a recognition that through building partnerships with the business community, we could achieve better Customs compliance through less regulation, creating a win-win situation for all," he said.

"About 350 guests, including Executive Council and Legislative Council members, government officials, Consuls General, foreign Customs attaches, Customs representatives from the Mainland and Macau and private sector stakeholders, joined the celebration.

Today's event was the 23rd celebration of the ICD by the Hong Kong Customs since it became a member of the WCO in 1987.

Ends/Tuesday, January 26, 2010

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