Ambassador Lynch delivers remarks at Launch of Container Control Program Training

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Launch of Container Control Program Training
January 24, 2022

Guyana Revenue Authority Leadership,
UN Office of Drugs and Crime staff,
World Customs Organization trainers,
Customs professionals and members of law enforcement,
Members of the press,

I am very pleased to be here for the kickoff of Container Control Program training, designed to strengthen Guyana’s capacity to protect its borders and enhance port security. With support from the U.S. State Department’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and implementation from the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), this engagement is the continuation of a partnership between the U.S. and Guyana governments to strengthen port security.  It will weaken the potential of transnational criminal organizations and traffickers of illicit goods, and especially narcotics. This training falls under the auspices of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a shared security partnership to which the U.S. has committed over $600 million U.S. dollars since its inception in 2010.

Through UNODC’s container control program, port control units will be re-invigorated to profile, target, and inspect containers. The training and technical assistance for these units will be a key aspect of the program, as well as its interagency collaboration between customs and law enforcement officials.

All of us today want to see an end to the exploitation of Guyana’s ports to facilitate the trafficking of illicit goods.  We all want to see enhanced security, successful inspections of suspect containers, apprehension of criminals, and law enforcement and customs officers equipped with the right tools to get the job done.  We hope the program not only improves security, but also helps ensure that the proper duties are paid on exported goods.

The ribbon cutting for the deep-water port in Region 6 last month is a testament to Guyana’s intent to open to the world. While a momentous step in expanding economic opportunity, such developments also carry risks without the correct law enforcement safeguards in place. Illicit activities such as the transport of goods used for money laundering, illicit drugs, and weapons only serve to empower transnational organized crime groups.  This weakens domestic and regional security, and threatens economic prosperity. If Guyana truly wants to be a major transport and logistics hub, container control must sit at the center.  Training programs like this are vital for risk management, supply chain security, trade facilitation, and enhancing the technical capacity of customs and other law enforcement officersAt the close of this program, we look forward to an updated MOU between Guyana and UN Office of Drugs and Crime to show the strong, lasting commitment of all parties to port security.

The other important aspect of this program is interagency collaboration. I note that the Government of Guyana has committed to developing standard operating procedures for the Container Control Program to ensure cooperation between customs and law enforcement and facilitating interagency cooperation through regular meetings and rotation of leadership.  The diversity of agencies represented here – GPF, GRA, CANU, GDF Coast Guard, and MARAD – will be a strength, not a hindrance to achieving the goal of port security.  By working together, you will make Guyana safer and more prosperous.

Thanks to all who are participating in this effort, and especially the trainers from the World Customs Organization in Belgium.  I know that this training was supposed to be conducted in person, and I hope when conditions allow that the World Customs Organization trainers will be able to provide additional, hand-on training, especially when it comes to inspections.

The United States is proud to support this effort, and I wish you all the best of luck as this training begins.