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13th International Anti-Corruption Conference

05 November 2008

13th International Anti-Corruption Conference

Global Transparency: Fighting corruption for a sustainable future

Athens (Greece), 30 October to 2 November 2008

REPORT ON THE WCO WORKSHOP

Trade Supply Chain Security / Facilitation and Integrity

The WCO Workshop was held on 31 October 2008 during the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference which took place in Athens, Greece from 30 October to 2 November 2008.

Moderator
Ms. Renee Stein
Director, Global Trade Policy, Microsoft Corporation
Coordinator
Mr. Yoshiro Baba
Customs Integrity Programme Manager, WCO
Rapporteur
Ms. Paulette Lefebvre
Director, Policy and Program Coordination, Canada Border Services Agency

Panellists

  • Mr. Nikolaos Vernadakis
    Director General of Customs & Excise, Ministry of Economy & Finance , Greece
  • Mr. Dato’ Mohamed Khalid Yusuf
    Deputy Director General, Royal Malaysian Customs
  • Ms. Renee Stein
    Director, Global Trade Policy, Microsoft Corporation·
  • Mr. Gerard McLinden
    Senior Trade Facilitation Specialist, World Bank

    MAIN ISSUES COVERED

    Corruption continues to plague the smooth functioning of international trade. While Customs administrations must manage multiple roles and responsibilities (such as security and trade facilitation), their diligent efforts to achieve predictable and transparent Customs processes are frequently harmed by integrity deficiencies. The international trade community faces difficulties when corruption results in increased costs and reduced business competitiveness. Accordingly, Customs and trade increasingly recognize that it is in their common interest to fight corruption to foster sustainable and stable business growth.

    Corruption is a global problem that exists within Customs, at the political level, within other government agencies and in the private sector. Many administrations are realizing that the problem is not solely with governments and traders, but often exists with intermediaries. Regulatory requirements and licensing were suggested as possible solutions to deal with this problem.

    Much has been done, but improvements are still required. For instance, surveys conducted by the World Bank have revealed a growing sense of trust of Customs administrations by various countries. In addition, the WCO’s Revised Arusha Declaration provides guidelines to assist Customs Administrations with establishing Customs integrity programmes.

    The World Bank has invested significant funds in assisting countries with Customs reforms.

    Governments and the private sector have taken great strides to build sound partnerships to jointly develop strategies to combat corruption.

    Greek Customs believes that governments should develop and implement a strategy dealing with the systematic struggle against corruption, by keeping the corruption issue at the centre of attention.

    No quick fix or cookie-cutter solutions can be effective over the long term. What is needed is a comprehensive approach and acknowledgement from everyone that a significant problem exists. Also needed is agreement by all that they are prepared to work jointly towards a solution and the establishment of a sound consultative regime between all parties to address the issues. In Malaysia and elsewhere, multiple committees and working groups have been established, which has contributed towards making Customs requirements known by all and also towards clarifying what the repercussions of non compliance will be should someone choose to apply corrupt practices. There is also supporting evidence that creating incentives for compliant/non-corrupt companies and/or individuals leads to an increase in efficiency for organizations and a reduction in corrupt practices.

    MAIN OUTCOMES/OUTPUTS

    Political will is fundamental for any administration to move forward with combating corruption.

    Clear and concise regulatory frameworks are required.

    Automation of business processes, transparency and accountability are key factors to reduce the risks of corruption.

    A comment was made that fair pay and conditions of employment, pension entitlements and integrity as key criteria for promotion are good examples of measures that can be taken by administrations to reduce the risk of corruption.

    Activities such as document verification, valuation and classification of goods should be performed by technical experts and revenue collection should be performed separately from border processing.

    Intermediary groups such as Brokers should be regulated, educated and licensed.

    Joint integrity pilot projects should be undertaken.

    RECOMMENDATIONS/FOLLOW-UP ACTIONS

    A suggestion was made to consider developing a joint declaration to create guidelines to assist the private sector and Customs with establishing joint integrity programmes.

    Border Agency Cooperation such as the Single Window, service level agreements between agencies and a single inspection policy are recommended as possible solutions.

    Whistleblower programmes are required and must offer protection to those wanting to put an end to corrupt practices.

    Consideration should be given to developing joint integrity pilot projects

    WORKSHOP HIGHLIGHTS/INTERESTING QUOTES

    There was general agreement that sound partnerships between Customs and the private sector are fundamental to improving integrity.

    Quote, “ Just as it is impossible not to taste the honey or the poison that finds itself at the tip of the tongue, so it is impossible for a Government servant not to eat up at least a bit of the King’s revenue”. (Emperor Chandragupta, India 300 BC)

    CLOSING REMARK

    The WCO would like to thank all participants for supporting the Workshop and the IACC for organizing this Conference. Having said this, the WCO will continue its efforts to vigorously promote integrity among all its Members as our name depends on it!

    Thank you.