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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 28, 1994

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of the Treasury Lloyd Bentsen and Antoly S. Kruglov, Chairman of the State Customs Committee of the Russian Federation, today will sign a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) that will assist the two countries in prevention, investigation, and repression of Customs offenses.

Occuring during the Presidential signing ceremony taking place in the East Room of the White House at 3:30 p.m., and witnessed by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin, the agreement provides a basis for cooperation and investigation in the areas of commercial fraud, narcotics smuggling, and export control, and will be mutually beneficial to the Customs Administrations of the United States and the Russian Federation by enhancing their abilities to enforce Customs laws.

Commenting on the agreement, U.S. Commissioner of Customs George J. Weiss said ``the signing of this Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement begins a new era of cooperation between the Governments of the United States of America and the Russian Federation and for our respective Customs Administrations. International trade and criminal activity are increasing so rapidly, it is essential for us to establish a network of agreements between Customs agencies to share information for facilitating trade and law enforcement purposes. Everyone wins when we establish mechanisms for mutual cooperation to promote international trade and to thwart criminal activity.''

U.S. domestic laws, and most foreign national law, do not permit disclosure of much information in the absence of a formal agreement or treaty. The CMAA will allow U.S. Customs to exchange information, intelligence, and other assistance with the Russian Federation.

U.S. Customs has signed Customs Mutual Assistance agreements with a number of other countries. As of this date, 25 have entered into force.

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