The Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the United States Customs and Border Protection have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to facilitate the exchange of expertise between them in a number of areas.
It covers areas such as narcotics smuggling, human trafficking, the trafficking of hazardous materials, as well as areas of mutual interest that will be agreed on between the two customs bodies.
The Commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection, Mr Gil Kerlikowske, signed for his outfit, while the Commissioner of Customs, Mr John Vianney Kuudamnuru, appended for Ghana at a brief ceremony in Accra yesterday.
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Mr Kuudamnuru said the MoU would build on the mutual support that had been sustained between the two institutions over the years.
The Ghana Customs administration, he said, had benefited from numerous capacity-building initiatives and training programmes offered by the US Customs administration and US government agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The two institutions, he said, had in the past exchanged critical intelligence and logistical support as part of a global effort to stem the increasing menace of international narcotic drugs trade and trafficking.
As part of the support for the implementation of the international border management systems, Mr Kuudamnuru said, the US government supported a training programme for some Ghanaian officials selected from some critical agencies.
The initiative, he said, had strengthened the international collaboration for the facilitation of the supply chain, made investment procedure much easier and ensured that international trade was conducted in a congenial atmosphere.
Currently, he said, the US Customs was assisting the GRA to set up a canine unit to augment security systems at the ports and harbours.
The canine unit, popularly known as K-9, uses specially trained dogs to follow human scent to track and locate lost or missing people, wanted persons and potentially dangerous individuals.
The dogs are also used to provide support during tactical operations and for narcotics detection, where they are trained to locate five common narcotics odours in several environments, such as buildings, vehicles, packages and other objects.
Later in a roundtable discussion, Mr Kerlikowske said the signing of the MoU had been informed by discussions held between the US and Ghanaian Custom officials at different fora, adding that signing the agreement was important to ensure sustainable collaboration between the two bodies.
On why those specific areas had been chosen for capacity building and technical expertise, he said they were areas where their Ghanaian counterparts had indicated that they needed assistance.
“We want this document to be a living document and one that meets the goals of both countries,” he added.
Mr Kerlikowske lauded the Ghana government for fighting money laundering and disputed the claim that Ghana was a major hub for drug trafficking.
“Any country may be a hub or transit for drugs, but quite frankly the drugs coming into the United States are widely not from Africa. Every country has a problem with drugs,” he stated.