Toespraak staatssecretaris De Vries bij ondertekening Letter of Intent samenwerking met douane Brazilië

Toespraak van staatssecretaris De Vries (Toeslagen en Douane) bij de ondertekening van de Letter of Intent over de samenwerking met de Braziliaanse douane. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen,

And a special thank you to Mrs. Adriana Gomes Rego, deputy Special Secretary of the Federal Revenue Service of Brazil, and Mrs. Claudia Regina Leao do Nascimento Thomaz, Undersecretary of Customs Administration, for hosting our delegation.

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you today. It is inspiring to be reminded of the strong bond between our countries, and to see how well we work together. I observed that bond in action at the port of Santos. Ports are logistical marvels. The bustling activity….. The no-nonsense atmosphere... the seemingly endless number of containers. And a fine example of how well Brazil and the Netherlands are collaborating in our shared fight against drug crime.

I witnessed this at Santos, and it’s emphasized by our own officials. The connections between our 2 nations go back a long way, and soon we will celebrate 200 years of friendship. For the Netherlands, Brazil is the number one trading partner in Latin America. Conversely, the Netherlands is Brazil’s fourth largest export market and its second largest investor.

We know each other well, and our long tradition of cooperation makes it so much easier to work together intensively. We are strong trading partners – in agriculture, in raw materials, in pharmaceuticals. Our trade links are ever expanding in new and innovative areas, most notably aircraft construction, shipbuilding and port industries.

Intensive cooperation is our key strategy when it comes to combating drug crime. It’s a close and constructive partnership that we will confirm today by signing a letter of intent.

Large amounts of drugs bound for the Netherlands are intercepted right here in Brazil. Your Receita Federal, and our Customs share scanned images of containers. It was fascinating to see this development on my working visit to the port of Rotterdam and now here at the port of Santos.

We all understand the urgency of cooperating to stop crime from undermining the fabric of society. The social impact of drug trafficking is devastating, both for Brazil and for the Netherlands. Criminals on both sides of the ocean have an edge. They test our laws, our law enforcement and our border controls to their limits. They have virtually unlimited resources at their disposal.

Yet we should not let this discourage us or prevent us from taking action. Because that would mean giving up the fight and letting the criminals win. That cannot happen. It must not happen.

This means that we have to defeat them in other areas. We must continue to undermine their business model – by hunting them down and by intercepting as many drug shipments as we possibly can. More than that: we need to outsmart them – through innovation and by joining forces.

We are doing our utmost to achieve these goals, both here in Brazil and back home in the Netherlands. The information you provide, for example, enables us to arrest drug traffickers at the port of Rotterdam and seize their drugs.

This cooperation is of crucial importance to us. Cooperation that has been shaped for many years by the Dutch attaché here in Brazil. I see this as an example for cooperation with other countries in Latin America. We established a liaison in Panama last year, and are already seeing the benefits. The same is true of our liaison in Curaçao and our attachés here and in Suriname.

These officials have close and direct contact with local customs services. This streamlines the process and lowers the threshold when it comes to the mutual exchange of information on shipments. It helps us make better risk assessments and increases the probability of criminals being caught.

This brings me to another project in which our joint efforts can serve as a model for cooperation with other countries in Latin America. The project that brings us here today: the scan pilot.

Recently, Brazilian Customs launched a knowledge exchange with customs services in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Customs officers in the Netherlands and Belgium can now analyse images provided by their Brazilian counterparts and this helps them carry out more targeted checks. Through this focused approach, we aim to intercept even more drugs.

This exchange is also essential for developing automatic image recognition. We hope  an algorithm will soon be able to automatically detect any anomalies between images in the Netherlands and Belgium and those in Brazil, to make our checks even more effective. These are vital steps that will enable us to make life increasingly difficult for drug traffickers.

Let us, Brazil and the Netherlands, continue to exchange scanned images, intelligence and expertise.

Our joint efforts are already showing results. Less cocaine is being intercepted en route from Brazil to the Netherlands, which is a sign it is becoming less lucrative for criminals to ship cocaine to the Netherlands. In my view, this development can only be good news.

The success of our collaboration is by no means a given. It can only work if there is a willingness on both sides to find each other. And that willingness most certainly exists. I hear it from Dutch Customs, and it shines through in all conversations I have had here.

With this in mind, I am delighted we will soon be confirming our cooperation on paper. I look forward to putting my signature on a document that is sure to signal the long-term continuation of our successful cooperation. After all, the more intensively we work together, the greater our chances of dealing a major blow to organised crime.

Thank you for your attention.