On 19 June 2002, BIMCO established its fourteenth anti-drug smuggling agreement when the latest Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in Rome by BIMCO and the Italian Customs.
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 11 September, the importance of such agreements with customs authorities becomes ever more essential for ship owners 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.” Ship owners that are covered by such agreements can avoid delays and in some cases mitigate applicable fines when drugs are found on board. The exchange of information between customs and owners is also enhanced.
Mr. Tvedt and the Director of Italian Customs Mario Andrea Guaiana signed the MOU at the Italian Customs Rome headquarters. BIMCO has previously established similar agreements with the customs administrations of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. More than 60% of BIMCO’s owner members are participating with one or more of the anti-drug smuggling programmes.
BIMCO, established in 1905, is the world’s leading private association of shipping companies, with nearly 2,700 members in 122 countries. The owner-members of BIMCO control a fleet of 508 million DWT thereby representing 65% of the world’s merchant fleet. Among its many activities, the organisation provides strictly professional, non-political information and counselling services for the maritime community including owners, brokers, agents and club members. BIMCO is an official observer at the International Maritime Organization.