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Malta Customs maximizes opportunities for small island economies

25 febrero 2019

At the invitation of Mr. Joseph Chetcuti, Director General of Malta Customs, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Valletta, Malta on 21 and 22 February 2019 for a series of high-level bilateral meetings and to observe Customs operations.

Malta’s Minister for Finance, Professor Edward Scicluna, welcomed Dr. Mikuriya and described the transformation of Malta’s island economy landscape into a more diversified one, starting with the introduction of online gaming and moving towards a more digitized and service-oriented economy, encompassing education and medical tourism.  He added that Customs played a fundamental role in this transformation process.  They also discussed the economic opportunities open to small island economies, including Blockchain and FinTech, as well as Malta’s collaboration programmes with European and North African countries. 

In a separate meeting, Malta’s Prime Minister, Dr. Joseph Muscat, also greeted Dr. Mikuriya and suggested enhanced collaboration with other organizations as a way of further involving small island economies in the WCO’s work.  He also shared his vision of a “Blockchain Island” with an established legal framework, while describing the challenges ahead.  He went on to explain his country’s natural role as an “honest broker” in the Mediterranean region, linking Europe to North Africa.

Secretary General Mikuriya visited the Container Monitoring Unit Facilities at Malta Freeport, where he observed the use of risk management and technology to counter illicit trade without hindering the smooth flow of legitimate trade. 

Dr. Mikuriya’s visit drew to a close with a meeting with the Customs management team at the historic Custom House in Valletta, built between 1774 and 1776.  Together, they discussed practical ways of developing further cooperation among Mediterranean countries.