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WCO explores further cooperation with Islamic world

29 September 2005
WCO explores further cooperation with Islamic World
 Brussels, 29 September 2005

WCO Deputy Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, attended the Expert Level Meeting on Trade Facilitation for member sta tes of the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC*) that was held in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) from 27-28 September 2005. The Islamic Development Bank invited experts in the WTO negotiations on Trade Facilitation, including the Chairperson of the WTO Negotiating Group, to facilitate discussion among participants from the trade, finance, and customs authorities of 41OIC members. The meeting also discussed the impact of the new security environment on the trade facilitation focus area.

During his presentation, Mr Mikuriya referred to the findings of the recent outcome of the WCO Time Release Study which he said was a concrete example of how to identify bottlenecks in border procedures and the resulting needs and priorities of developing countries. In prioritizing capacity building needs, he recommended that customs administrations use available WCO tools, developed on the basis of the Revised Kyoto Convention, because they basically cover the WTO proposals on trade facilitation and contain measures to meet the challenges of the new security environment.

As a part of its role in promoting trade and investment, the Deputy Secretary General said that customs should address current security concerns in export markets by gradually implementing the WCO Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade, which includes all existing WCO initiatives to improve customs operations in both security and facilitation.

Mr Mikuriya also took the opportunity to meet the President of the Islamic Development Bank and his senior staff with a view to enhancing future cooperation and support for customs modernization.

Whilst in Jeddah, the WCO Deputy Secretary General separately visited a Saudi Arabian customs seaport office to observe various initiatives and their achievements. These efforts include the development of a customs IT system that allows direct links to traders, the installation of container scanners, and the establishment of a consultation mechanism with the private sector. Mr. Mikuriya noted that trade volumes in Jeddah, which had become the largest port on the Red Sea, had grown rapidly thanks to its well-developed port facilities, supported by well-placed security measures.