Eurasian Economic Community presents the Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation

25 January 2010

Presentation of the stages of development of the Eurasian Economic Community: the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation

WCO Headquarters, Brussels, 25 January 2010

Opening address by Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization

Mr. Chairperson,
Your Excellency Mr. Mansurov, Secretary General of the Eurasian Economic Community,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors of Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation,
Dear Directors General,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to welcome you today to the World Customs Organization, the home of the global Customs community. I would like to pay special tribute to Mr. Mansurov who envisioned and drove the establishment of the Customs Union encompassing three dynamic economies and chose the WCO as the venue to deliver the first introductory presentation at the global level.

Nowadays, many nations see regional economic integration as a driver for trade promotion and the resulting economic development with the creation of a bigger market and job opportunities. Needless to say, Customs plays an essential role in supporting regional integration, because it provides infrastructure for facilitating trade and enhancing national competitiveness by improving the investment climate.

In fact, the harmonizing of tariffs, rules of origin and Customs procedures is a daunting task, requiring detailed technical knowledge and patience. Therefore I would like to praise Customs experts that have contributed to shaping the integration process under the stewardship of the Eurasian Economic Community’s Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Glazyev.

Of course the progress of this regional integration has been made possible thanks to the strong commitment of the political leaders of the three countries concerned. I would like to take this opportunity to ask the three authorities, through the ambassadors present here today, to continue to provide strong support for the modernization of Customs, because this is vital for the successful functioning of the Customs Union.

Now you are in the transition period for developing guidelines for the implementation of the agreed text. I am pleased that Directors General and senior representatives of the three Customs administrations are present to share information and provide more detail about their “baby”, which will impact on their administrations and on business.

One of the crucial elements for regional integration is to base procedures on global standards that connect the Customs Union to the outside world. Conscious of this need, the Customs Union has made every effort to ensure that its Customs procedures are in conformity with the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention; concrete proof of this is Kazakhstan's formal accession to the Convention during the WCO Council Sessions last June.

The WCO is ready to offer all technical advice and assistance to get the Customs Union fully operational as soon as possible. We have already scheduled two workshops for Customs Union members, the first covering tariff and nomenclature, and the second, implementation of the Revised Kyoto Convention. The first of these workshops will be held in Minsk next month with sponsorship from the CCF/Japan fund.

All 176 Members of the WCO are collectively implementing the vision and strategy incorporated in the “Customs in the 21st Century” policy document, adopted by its Council in 2008. This document contains ten building blocks that will guide Customs administrations and the WCO in the 21st Century.

The first building block is Globally Networked Customs which implies that Customs administrations around the world should work as a global network. Now we are discussing the way how to achieve this vision, including the feasibility of electronic exchange of information. I understand that all three countries are striving to ensure this Customs-to-Customs cooperation, especially with their neighbours, including European Union Member States. I hope that the creation of the Customs Union will facilitate this task.

The second building block is Coordinated Border Management, which reflects the evolution of Customs from its original fiscal function to embrace trade facilitation, security of the international trade supply chain, and the protection of society. Coordination with other border agencies is essential in ensuring effective border management while facilitating legitimate trade. Since this entails information exchange at the borders, the WCO finalized version 3 of its Data Model that includes not only Customs data requirements but also those of other border agencies. I expect that WCO Members will gradually implement this common platform for data exchange for all border agencies.

The third building block is risk management, an important element for managing trade. All our Members, including the three Customs Union members, are currently developing best practice covering this topic. We will be exploring this topic further later in the year: at the June Council Sessions; through a dedicated Risk Management Forum directly thereafter; and by sharing the outcomes of the Forum through regional sessions.

The forth building block is the Customs-Business Partnership that is particularly relevant to this year’s WCO activities. Tomorrow we will celebrate International Customs Day which is the date that the WCO held its inaugural meeting in 1953. This year we have chosen the Customs-Business Partnership as the theme for International Customs Day. In this connection, I would like commend the Eurasian Economic Community for inviting trade representatives to this presentation session in line with this spirit. The Customs Union should provide a great deal of benefit to business while expecting improved compliance from the business community. It is therefore very important to provide information and engage in a dialogue with our business partners to achieve mutual benefits based on mutual trust.

I am confident that the vision of Customs in the 21st Century will continue to inspire your Customs Union. I also sincerely hope that the broader membership of the WCO will hear of your experience and learn from it. I look forward to you playing an important role in the WCO, including your continued active participation in our various committees and other working bodies.

To conclude, I wish you all the best for a successful presentation today.

Thank you for your attention.
 
click here for the outcomes