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US Liaison Officers on the road again

09.01am 24 March 2022

Greg Davis and Shaun Fujimoto, our Washington DC and Los Angeles Liaison Officers, have undertaken their first business travel out of the United States in over two years, with a three-day visit to Panama City.

Panama City was determined to be a key part of the US teams reopening strategy for the Americas. notably for the risk presented by the region being at the crossroads of the world for Maritime Traffic and Trade. 

Shaun said, "the face-to-face engagement with Law Enforcement partners in Panama City, during the 3 days was absolutely critical to our mission in the United States, they are effectively our eyes and ears in the region”.

They also met with Director General Tayra Barsallo of the Panamanian National Customs Authority. 

“Director General Barsallo is a highly respected and highly effective Border Agency leader in LATAM and she is very driven in the development of her organisation to address the risk being presented across her country and border entry points” says Greg.

While on their visit, they were able to identify some areas where New Zealand Customs can support the development of the Panamanian National Customs Authority by sharing important information and discussing border doctrine that will be valuable to both of our agencies.

No visit to Panama would be complete without a trip to the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific end of the Canal. Vessels are raised up from each end of the canal, to transit the Gatun lakes, at 26 metres above sea level, then brought back down through locks on either side of Panama to sea level again. Up to 14,000 vessel transit through the canal each year, totalling 255 million tonnes of cargo, including millions of dollars of New Zealand Trade to the US Eastern Seaboard and Europe.

“Overall, this brief, busy, but very interesting and highly important visit was absolutely the right move by us to engage with partners in the region. These agencies have our backs and they are eager for engagement which continually supports the offshore disruption mandate for the New Zealand Customs Service. While MS Teams has been a great platform for connectivity over the last two years, face-to-face engagement unquestionably beats it hands-down in our world of liaison. It was just great to get back into LO mode again” says Greg.