WASHINGTON—The United States signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement today with Uruguay marking a significant milestone in collaboration between the two countries. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske signed the agreement on behalf of CBP and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sr. Luis Almagro signed the agreement on behalf of Uruguay. The bilateral agreement is a valuable tool for the U.S. and Uruguay’s respective customs administrations to prevent, repress, and investigate customs offenses.
“Customs authorities around the globe are securing nations and communities against the threat of terrorism and transnational crime while facilitating legitimate commerce,” said Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “This agreement strengthens our nations’ resilience against threats by expanding cooperation and information sharing with our international partners.”
“This agreement will enable our customs officials to expand our efforts to protect our borders through the timely and secure exchange of information,” said Thomas S. Winkowski, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “We look forward to future opportunities for collaborative enforcement efforts with Uruguay’s Dirección Nacional de Aduanas.”
With this new agreement signed, CBP and ICE now have 69 CMAAs with other Customs administrations across the world. CMAAs provide the legal framework for the exchange of information and evidence to assist countries in the prevention, detection, and investigation of Customs offenses and crimes associated with goods crossing international borders, including duty evasion, trafficking, proliferation, money laundering, and terrorism-related activities. CMAAs also serve as foundational documents for subsequent information sharing arrangements, including mutual recognition arrangements on authorized economic operator programs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.