Coordinated Border Management: A Whole-of-Government Approach: Singapore Customs

ISSUE #58 – Coordinated border management is now recognised by the international customs community as a potential solution for challenges faced in the 21st century with respect to efficient and effective border management.

With the expansion of international trade, customs administrations face a common challenge to facilitate the movement of legitimate goods and travellers across borders, while protecting the international trade supply chain from threats such as smugglers and organised crimes.

Singapore has adopted a concerted approach by all relevant government agencies to deter smuggling while facilitating legitimate trade into, through, and from Singapore. Such a whole-of government approach supports a swifter and more effective response to complex enforcement issues.

This whole-of-government approach can be seen in actions taken to combat illicit trade in areas such as:

  • working with domestic enforcement agencies on the smuggling of contraband cigarettes;
  • collaborating with the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore on endangered species protected under the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora;
  • joint efforts with the Singapore Police Force’s Intellectual Property Rights Branch to ensure a robust intellectual property rights enforcement regime;
  • trans-boundary movement of hazardous substances enforced by the National Environment Agency.

Partnerships between countries at multiple nodes in the supply chain such as the point of origin, transit and destination, are also vital to an integrated approach to combating transnational illicit trade.

To this end, Singapore Customs regularly partners other customs administrations and domestic agencies in operations against smugglers, including through the World Customs Organization Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices network.

The case studies below illustrate our whole-of-government efforts towards coordinated border management.

 CASE STUDY: Illegal ivory, rhinoceros horns and big cats’ teeth


CustomsActing on a tip-off, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), working in concert with Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, seized a shipment of about 3.7 tonnes of illegal ivory in May 2015. This is the second largest seizure of illegal ivory since 2002.

The shipment, which was declared as tea leaves, was shipped in two 20-footer containers from Kenya and was transiting through Singapore for Vietnam. Upon inspecting the two containers, AVA uncovered 1,783 pieces of raw ivory tusks concealed among bags of tea dust. AVA also found four pieces of rhinoceros horns and 22 pieces of canine teeth believed to be from African big cats. The haul, estimated at S$8 million, was seized by AVA for further investigations.

 CASE STUDY: Counterfeit women’s bags and wallets


Customs2During an inspection of the consignment of goods at a warehouse complex in April 2015, Singapore Customs officers found 700 women’s bags and wallets, suspected to be counterfeits of three popular brands.

The counterfeit goods were then detained by Singapore Customs under Section 93A(1)(a) of the Trade Marks Act and the brand owners were informed of the detention.


By Singapore Customs


Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “New Links in the Supply Chain” – September 2015