In June 1967, the Customs Cooperation Council (CCC), known since 1994 as the World Customs Organization (WCO), adopted a model bilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance for countries to implement as part of a national customs policy. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has used this model as a basis for negotiating Customs Mutual Assistance Agreements (CMAAs) with other foreign administrations since joining the CCC in 1970. Domestic and foreign courts recognize each agreement as a legal basis for wide ranging cooperation.
Such a legal framework is vital because of explosive growth in the volume and complexity of international trade. Great demands are being placed on customs administrations around the world. With government resources not able to keep pace with this growing trade, customs administrations rely on mutual assistance as a powerful investigative tool.
The agreements allow for the exchange of information, intelligence, and documents that will ultimately assist countries in the prevention and investigation of customs offenses. The agreements are particularly helpful for U.S. Attaché offices, as each agreement is tailored to the capacities and national policy of an individual country's customs administration.