On 23 September, BIMCO established its fifteenth anti-drug smuggling agreement when the latest Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Nicosia between BIMCO and the Cypriot Department of Customs & Excise.
With the increasing frequency in the movement of illicit drugs to North America and Europe, combined with the increased attention given to maritime security since the tragic events of 9/11, the importance of such agreements with customs authorities becomes ever more essential for shipowners and customs administrations alike.
"These agreements represent a commitment from both sides to cooperate in the battle against drug smugglers" said Ove Tvedt, Deputy Secretary General
of BIMCO. "As efforts are now being made on an international scale aimed at tightening security on ships and ports, owners that are participating in the anti-drug smuggling programs will be a step ahead of companies that have not chosen to do so. These agreements also protect the free movement of innocent cargoes whilst helping customs detect contraband."
Shipowners that are covered by such agreements can avoid delays and in some cases fines when drugs are found on board. The exchange of information between customs and owners is also enhanced.
Tvedt and Zeta Emilianidou, Director of the Dept. of the Cyprus Customs & Excise, signed the MOU at the Cypriot Customs headquarters. BIMCO has previously established similar agreements with the customs administrations of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. More than 60 percent of BIMCO's owner members are participating with one or more of the anti-drug smuggling programs.