WASHINGTON — The United States signed a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) Tuesday 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 Uruguay's Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Almagro signed the agreement on behalf of Uruguay. The bilateral agreement is a valuable tool for the United States 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 ICE. "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. This helps countries prevent, detect and investigate 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.