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Indian Ocean Region Customs meet on trade facilitation opens
September, 20th 2014

A meeting of Customs administration officials from the 19 member-countries of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) on trade facilitation got under way in Bangalore on Monday morning.

Describing it as a unique gathering, a senior official of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) said this was the second IORA Trade Facilitation Forum. “We have participants from 19 countries… they are all Customs experts and going to talk on important topics like trade facilitation,” according to Sandeep Bhatnagar, Joint Secretary (Customs), CBEC.

The discussions over the next three days, he explained, are significant in the backdrop of the agreement on trade facilitation at the Bali Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organisation in December last. “Even otherwise, every Customs administration is interested in facilitating genuine trade,” he said, adding authorised economic cooperative programme to ensure supply chain security is also to be deliberated.

Such forums, Mr.Bhatnagar pointed, will help in bringing together countries in the Indian Ocean region since they already have lot of commonalities.

CBEC Member (Customs) Mala Srivastava inaugurated the three day workshop, which is being organised by the Board in association with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Force under the aegis of IORA for Regional Cooperation.

According to Ms.Srivastava, there was need for the Customs administration to set new standards of excellence and work together for global prosperity. Strong conclusions on enhancing trade and facilitation measures, she said, would ultimately lead to poverty alleviation and economic development. She also highlighted the need for measures that result in reducing the cost of compliance.

An official release said the IORA seeks to build and expand understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation between the member countries through a consensus based, evolutionary and non-intrusive approach. National Director of Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Jeff Buckpitt, Chief Commissioner of Customs, Bangalore, R.P.Raheja and Commissioner of Customs Sandeep Prakash participated in the inaugural session.

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