Speech to Customs Stakeholders in Christchurch

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Speech to Customs Stakeholders in Christchurch with some highlights of the year as Minister of Customs.

It has certainly been a successful year, and a lot has been achieved. With some good successes here in Christchurch.

Christchurch Airport is NZ’s second largest, and as a gateway to the South Island, promoting international travel is a big part of Christchurch’s regeneration. Passenger volumes are growing year on year, especially in Christchurch.

A record 6.3 million passengers travelled in and out of Christchurch Airport in the 2016 financial year (up from 5.9 million last year) – the most passengers the airport has ever handled in a single year.   

Our government has allocated over $6 million last year to expand and modernise our SmartGates. With 29 more eGates, this more than doubles the previous capacity to a total of 51. 

SmartGate’s popularity is in the numbers - in early December, we will have the 20 millionth passenger walk through an eGate.

Like facilitating legitimate travel, work has also continued over the past year with assisting legitimate trade through streamlined processes and improved technology to make it easier for traders to comply with Customs requirements.

In the last financial year, 11.8 million trade transactions were processed, with 67% of the inward transactions completed through the Joint Border Management System’s Trade Single Window.

The remaining Trade Single Window functionality of the system is currently being tested by Customs and industry partners and will be rolled out early next year.

In July this year, an MRA was signed with Australia, with both Customs agencies recognising each other’s’ secure trade programmes. It is projected that the MRA will allow $3 billion of NZ exports to Australia to be fast tracked.

I am especially pleased about the introduction of Customs’ new business outreach programme that reaches out to exports at the grassroots level so that New Zealand exporters can maximise the benefits available to them.

This includes helping companies understand how to meet the requirements, particularly around the rules of origin, and discussing any barriers that exporters are facing into New Zealand’s key export markets.

In the last financial year, the volume of illicit drugs seized continued to grow with drugs with a street value of $417 million seized by Customs. This included 292kg of methamphetamine and 1153kg of precursors. The potential harm avoided (social and economic costs) is estimated at $875 million.

We are continue to invest into border protection, our most recent including 4 new detector dog teams, 14 new mobile drug detection devices, and deploying staff overseas to work with partner agencies in order to help prevent drugs from getting to our borders.

Finally, I made an announcement I made today on the Customs and Excise Bill that will replace the outdated Custom and Excise Act 1996 that is difficult to understand and apply and creates compliance costs for business.

It aims to strengthen border management and make life simpler for businesses. Businesses’ obligations will be clearer and there will be more flexibility.  There will also be greater assurance for all New Zealanders that border risks and non-compliance will be identified and minimised.

Customs’ existing powers will be retained but there will be greater scope and flexibility to address smuggling and border security, while recognising privacy concerns.