WCO 2012 Council Sessions open on a high note

28 June 2012

WCO 2012 Council Sessions open on a high note

Brussels, 28 June 2012

Press Release

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and Belgium’s Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Steven Vanackere, delivered keynote addresses at the opening of the 2012 Sessions of the Council of the World Customs Organization, the year which marks the commemoration of the Organization’s 60th anniversary.

“I consider my presence with you today as some form of home-coming,” declared President Jonathan as an introduction to his address to the WCO Council. The Nigerian President reminded delegates that he had served in the Customs service in the early years of his life and shared his reflections on the transformation of the trade environment and the role of Customs, including the WCO, over the years.

He also shared what his country is doing to overcome the challenges that Customs services in developing countries face, including bringing Nigeria’s Customs law in line with international best practices such as the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention; Nigeria deposited its instrument of accession with the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, shortly afterwards.

Commenting on the WCO’s Connectivity theme for 2012, the President said, “I urge that connectivity, and all that it connotes, remains the eternal ethos of not only all Customs administrations across the world, but of all of the world’s governments and peoples, as we collectively strive to evolve a more secure, just, equitable, peaceful and prosperous world.”

The WCO Secretary General praised the President’s support and commitment towards modernizing the Nigeria Customs Service, highlighting the critical role political support plays in giving momentum to the Customs reform process.

“Let’s not shy away from making our Customs procedures ever more efficient,” declared Minister Vanackere in his address. Underscoring that, “Customs is instrumental in creating a better world, as the delivery of an efficient Customs service is strongly interconnected with economic growth.”

Facilitating trade while safeguarding the country “requires a constant, innovative rethinking of existing Customs procedures” indicated the Minister, and with Belgium Customs on the verge of in-depth reform, he said that “In the near future, Customs will be open 24/7 and charges for services provided after office hours will be lifted, making it attractive to trade.”

Also essential to growth is fighting against counterfeiting said Minister Vanackere who declared that “trade in fakes flourish at the expense of society and that fighting this scourge is another way to ensure economic growth, while protecting the health and safety of consumers.”

Secretary General Mikuriya thanked the Belgian Vice-Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for his country’s contribution over the years, not only as a generous host but also as an innovative thinker who participates actively in WCO bodies, such as the Ad Hoc Working Group on Globally Networked Customs.

The three-day WCO Council Sessions are due to continue until Saturday, with Friday evening devoted to a special reception in honour of the Organization’s 60th anniversary.