Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

It’s a pleasure to be here today at the 46th Annual Conference of the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC).

I welcome all delegates, distinguished guests, and representatives from across our region and beyond, who have gathered here in the capital of our beautiful Bahamas. 

Your presence is encouraging, as it demonstrates a commitment to fostering cooperation, enhancing customs enforcement, and promoting economic prosperity in the Caribbean.

Since its establishment in 1989, CCLEC has played a pivotal role in uniting customs administrations across our region. 

This council has significantly strengthened our ability to enforce customs laws, combat illicit activities, and facilitate legitimate trade through collaboration and knowledge sharing. The theme of this year’s conference, “Transforming the Customs Landscape to Meet Changing Needs,” aptly captures the essence of our ongoing mission, and the challenges we face in an ever-evolving global landscape.

This conference serves as a reminder of the critical role that customs administrations play in safeguarding our borders, enhancing revenue collection, and ensuring the smooth facilitation of trade. 

It will also highlight the importance of protecting our economies from the threats posed by smuggling, fraud, and other illicit activities. 

In today’s world, where technological advancement and globalization continue to reshape the dynamics of trade and security, it is imperative that we remain agile and innovative, as we keep up with modern trends. 

Over the next few days, this conference will serve as a vital platform for discussing and exploring cutting-edge strategies and technologies that can enhance our customs operations. From advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence to blockchain and other emerging technologies, the sessions will provide invaluable insights into how we can leverage these tools to build capacity while improving efficiency, accuracy, and security in our customs processes.

I take this opportunity to commend CCLEC for its unrelenting dedication to training and capacity building. The continuous development of our customs officers is essential to maintaining a robust and effective enforcement apparatus. Through comprehensive training programs and interactive sessions, we are equipping our officers with the skills and knowledge they need to remain on the cutting edge today and tomorrow.

The importance of partnerships and international collaboration cannot be overstated. We are honoured to have representatives from the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, CARICOM IMPACS, and other key stakeholders joining us at this conference. Your presence underscores the significance of global cooperation in addressing the multifaceted challenges we face. By working together, sharing intelligence, and aligning our efforts with global standards, we can build a more secure and prosperous Caribbean.

As we deliberate on these critical issues, let us also remember the importance of public awareness and community engagement. An informed and vigilant public is a crucial ally in our efforts to maintain secure and efficient borders. Through outreach initiatives, public education campaigns, and collaboration with community groups, we can foster a culture of compliance and vigilance that supports our mission.

In closing, I express my heartfelt gratitude to the organisers, speakers, and participants who have made this conference possible. Your hard work and dedication are deeply appreciated. I am confident that the discussions and outcomes of this conference will pave the way for innovative solutions and stronger collaborations that will benefit all our nations. 

Let us seize this opportunity to learn, innovate, and strengthen our bonds of cooperation. Together, we can navigate the challenges ahead and build a brighter, safer, and more prosperous future for the Caribbean.

Thank you.