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Opening Ceremony of the WCO RCP Meeting

23 October 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good morning. 

Welcome to Hong Kong and welcome to the 10th Regional Contact Points Meeting of the WCO's Asia Pacific Region.

I am delighted that you are able to join us this week. I am pleased to see you all and note particularly Gerard McLinden representing the World Customs Organization, Chairman Fuimaono Pou Te'o representing the Oceania Customs Organization, and Customs representatives of APEC, ASEAN and the SAARC who will share with us their valuable experiences in the coming few days.

The Regional Contact Points Meeting is an important event that takes place annually among member administrations of the Asia Pacific region. It provides a good opportunity for all the contact points to meet with each other, to renew friendship and to exchange views on subject of significance to the region. 

By tradition, this Meeting serves as a working group for the meeting of the Heads of Customs Administrations which will take place every other year. I believe all the Directors General, including myself, have very high expectations for the Meeting. We are looking forward to your constructive, useful and innovative solutions to the many issues identified in the agenda. 

The new millennium has brought about unprecedented challenges. Customs offences are becoming more transnational and better organized. The business sector demands more efficient and facilitative services. Technology has turned our customary practices upside down. We will need to give our most dedicated efforts and best cooperation to meet these challenges. 

You will be drawing up the Regional Strategic Plan for 2001 to 2002. This is a blue print that will provide us with a strategic direction to future Customs work in the region. It is a very important document and we are counting on your input in formulating an incisive, practical and comprehensive plan for our region.

We have also suggested a number of new regional initiatives to enhance the overall enforcement capabilities of Customs in the tackling of internet piracy and the combat against cross border trafficking of dangerous drugs in the category of Amphetamine-Type-Stimulants (ATS) and their precursors.

Other than the traditional enforcement issues, we will also be discussing the need to form strategic partnerships with the business sector. We have put aside a half-day session for site-visit to a new express cargo hub at our Airport. We will have in-depth dialogue with representatives of the express cargo industry on efforts to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness in our cargo clearance process.

In addition, we will seek to devise a regional strategy to assist members to gain accession to, or to begin implementation of, the revised Kyoto Convention. There is also a need for us to give further thoughts to the theme of stepped-up cooperation on a regional scale. In your meeting, you will explore ways to deliver a regional cooperative agreement to set a pioneering example for other member regions of the WCO. 

Delegates, this is a heavy meeting agenda. You should be quite fully occupied for the next few days, and the Meeting will no doubt be a successful one with your contributions. I also hope you will have a happy stay in Hong Kong and don't forget to do a lot of shopping.

I now declare the 10th Regional Contact Points Meeting opened.

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