Inclusiveness Through Information Technologies – Launch of the 14th IT Conference & Exhibition

07 May 2015

The 14th annual WCO IT Conference & Exhibition was officially opened on 6 May 2015 in Freeport (Bahamas). Senior Government representatives of The Bahamas Government opened the 3-day Conference in the presence of over 400 participants from 75 countries.  

The Right Honorouble Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas thanked the WCO for choosing The Bahamas for this very important global Conference. The hosting of this WCO event is an example of the government’s commitment to bring business opportunities to Grand Bahama!

The Prime Minister further continued by reminding the delegates that the WTO concluded negotiations on a Trade Facilitation Agreement at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 and about its potential of reducing international trade costs of approximately 12%. He underlined that the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement owes much to the technical work that had already been carried out at the World Customs Organization.

In his speech, the Prime Minister stressed: “Our efforts are very much consistent with the theme of this Conference “Inclusiveness Through Information Technology". It is in our interest here in The Bahamas to pursue an inclusive approach to the introduction of the new IT systems. These new systems must bring benefits, not only to government, but also to commercial operators and to the general public who will use these services. We recognize that with the introduction of these IT systems we must adopt a more client focused and customer orientated approach to make it easier to conduct business.”

The Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, welcomed the delegates to what is now one of WCO’s premium external events bringing together representatives of the software industry and Customs policy makers. The Secretary General emphasized the theme of this year’s Conference "Inclusiveness Through Information Technologies", adding that it addresses three key priorities of the WCO Members - Implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, Regional Economic Integration and Coordinated Border Management.

Mr. Charles Turner, Comptroller of Customs and Excise Department of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, stressed that the IT Conference & Exhibition comes at an important juncture for The Bahamas as the Customs Department implements the Trade Sector Support Program. Having such a broad range of exhibitors and international delegates provides a rare opportunity to share ideas and learn from the experiences of others.

In addition, Mr. Turner announced that the Government of The Bahamas in July 2013 enacted a new Customs Management Act aimed at updating Customs processes and procedures, which fully complies with the WCO’s Revised Kyoto Convention on Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures.

He further elaborated on the launch of the Trade Sector Support Program whose principal component is the establishment of The Bahamas Regulatory Electronic Single Window. As stressed by Mr. Turner, The Bahamas Customs will be aligning its operational and informational environments with international standards and best practices, principally, as already mentioned, with the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention and the WCO Data Model data element standards.

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Photos:

  1. The Right Honorouble Perry Gladstone Christie, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas during his opening speech at the 14th IT Conference and Exhibition 2015.
  2. The WCO Secretary General, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya, addressing the participants on the importance of this year’s theme “Inclusiveness Through Information Technologies” for WCO Members.