Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US State Department Kathryn Insley visits CCP’s Interagency Port Control Unit in Poti, Georgia

On 3 June 2022, the UNODC WCO Container Control Programme (CCP) welcomed a visit of Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US State Department Kathryn Insley to its interagency Port Control Unit (PCU) in Poti, Georgia aimed to discuss the current achievements and needs of CCP and its participating agencies.

The Deputy Assistant Secretary was accompanied by the representatives from EXBS (Export Control and Related Border Security Program of the US State Department), UNODC, the CCP National Steering Committee, and the members of the Port Control Unit - representing the Georgian Ministries of Internal Affairs and Finance.

The visit was an excellent opportunity to share recent success stories (especially those relevant to the US interests) and to have an open exchange on the importance of facilitating interagency and regional cooperation while also discussing the current challenges resulting from the war in Ukraine. Trade routes have been disturbed and rerouted leading to a significant increase in cargo transiting Georgia via its land borders. The complex system of sanctions against the Russian Federation is straining already tight capacities.

The question and answers session provided opportunities for more discussion on the sanction management, how the inclusion of the Financial Investigation service enhanced the unit’s capacity and to what extent current policies and mandates allow the unit to seize (strategic) goods. The inclusion of additional agencies has greatly enhanced the processing speed of the unit, and current policies are adequate to allow the seizure of illicit shipments, especially when the policies are backed up by the cooperation with neighboring countries, as demonstrated by joint control delivery exercises. 

Georgian representatives furthermore outlined how they created a special task force to deal with sanctions-related topics in order to expedite the handling of transnational cargo.

Georgian representatives stressed that they plan to upscale their capabilities by opening another CCP PCU in Batumi which will also assist with the land border crossing point with Türkiye in Sarpi. While Georgia is happy to invest in national capacities, support from CCP and its international donors is needed to ensure the provision of trainings and international expertise and guarantee the adoption of best practices.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Kathryn Insley stressed the State Department's interest in supporting further the successful cooperation with CCP to make the Black Sea region more secure, thus, ensuring international security and nonproliferation.