Cooperation and partnerships emphasized at 2011 WCO Council Sessions

25 June 2011

Cooperation and partnerships emphasized at 2011 WCO Council Sessions

Brussels, 25 June 2011

Press Release

Heads of Customs administrations representing the 177 Members of the World Customs Organization met in Brussels from 23-25 June 2011 for the annual Sessions of the WCO Council, the Organization’s highest decision-making body.

This year the Council focused on key topical issues impacting the global trading system – illicit and dangerous trade, global supply chain security, air cargo security, and trade facilitation – while recognizing the critical supportive role played by capacity building, information-sharing, research and knowledge promotion.

The importance of international cooperation, inter-agency coordination and partnerships was threaded throughout the key speeches given by high-level speakers invited to address the Council and inform their deliberations:

  • Janet Napolitano, US Secretary of Homeland Security suggested that “the global community must work collaboratively to develop a common understanding of risks to the supply chain and develop common approaches to address those risks”,
  • Algirdas Šemeta, European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud said that “through international cooperation we can ensure policy coherence, establish compatibility of national systems and reduce costs”,
  • Raymond Benjamin, ICAO Secretary General and CEO mentioned that “global cooperation is essential in the development and implementation of measures and best practices to protect the air cargo supply chain, and in all other facets of aviation security”,
  • Dan Brutto, President of UPS International, emphasized that “working very closely with government officials in putting up security measures and working closely with the WCO is vitally important to the success of the free flow of goods around the world”,
  • Pascal Lamy, WTO Director-General, in referring to trade facilitation paid tribute to the WCO “for being an essential partner that offers valuable support to the WTO negotiations as well as in the delivery of related technical assistance”.

Taking forward the spirit of cooperation and partnerships, Council delegates witnessed WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, sign MoUs with ICAO to strengthen air cargo security, with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to boost the fight against doping in sport by combating illicit trade; and with Nigeria to establish a WCO Regional Training Centre.

Major elections were another feature of the Sessions: Josephine Feehily, Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners in Ireland was elected Chairperson of the Council; and Giuseppe Favale was nominated as the WCO Secretariat’s new Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs, taking up his post on 1 January 2012.

Secretary General Mikuriya welcomed the outcomes of the elections and said, “Josephine Feehily’s experience, results-oriented approach and ability to lead strategic change brings tremendous value to the Council, and Giuseppe Favale’s broad knowledge of Customs will assist the management of nomenclature, valuation and origin issues at the Secretariat.”

Argentina was awarded the 2011 WCO Yolanda Benitez Trophy for demonstrating keen commitment to combating counterfeiting and piracy with South Africa receiving a special award for being similarly committed, while the WCO Photographic Competition was won by Algeria for submitting the winning photo showing Customs officers changing shift in the desert.

“Directors General of Customs have provided a very clear road map for the twelve months that lay ahead,” said Secretary General Mikuriya. “The Secretariat will now ensure that its activities and work programmes deliver the expectations of Members in line with the WCO’s Strategic Plan,” he added.

The WCO Council will next meet in June 2012.