Customs and Excise Department employees attend Maravian Zionist Church services to celebrate International Customs Day.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -– The vital role played by customs agencies and employees in maintaining border security was recognized globally during the Jan. 26 International Customs Day celebrations. The Federation’s Customs and Excise Department marked the event by joined together to worship at the Zion Moravian Church.

Week-long activities in St. Kitts and Nevis will highlight the celebration held under the theme “SMART Borders for Seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.”

Senior Minister, the Honourable Vance Amory, spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris to commend Customs and Excise employees. He said they play a key role to ensure St. Kitts and Nevis is ranked consistently as a leader in Customs-related activities by prestigious international organizations, such as the World Bank Group.

“The World Bank’s Doing Business Report (the rankings are bench marked to May 2018) ranks St. Kitts and Nevis, out of all the countries in the English speaking Caribbean, as the best facilitator of processing goods and cross border trade,” Amory said.

St. Kitts and Nevis ranks 68th in the world and one point below Puerto Rico, the highest ranking country in the Caribbean, said the senior minister.

Amory said that in terms of processing cross border trade, St. Kitts and Nevis also ranks a mere four points below Israel and eight points below New Zealand, which are two Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) high-income countries.

“This is a significant achievement often overlooked in an examination of our overall ranking,” explained Amory. “We as a nation and especially our customs officers can feel a sense of accomplishment, but we must continue to improve our performance overtime. Our performance as a country emanates from the government’s support of continuous investment and training in information technologies such as the implementation of the ASYCUDA World customs Processing System, which is an automated system for customs data.”

Amory said the global ranking of the nation’s customs-related activities keeps improving because shorter processing times and more seamless trade have resulted from the use of the ASYCUDA system and other technologies.

“Good things are indeed happening as our Team Unity continues to equip and empower the Customs and Excise Department and other key agencies in the civil service with secure, measurable, automated, risk management and technology driven tools,” said Amory. “These ensure that we perform at the highest level of efficiency in all areas of our economic and social activities.”