Successful 8th WCO PICARD Conference

25 September 2013

Saint Petersburg, 18-20 September 2013

Over 290 registered delegates, from 75 different countries and representing WCO Members, academia, international organizations, the private sector, donor organizations and other interested parties, attended the 8th WCO Partnership in Customs Academic Research and Development (PICARD) Conference hosted by the International Business and Law Institute of the National Research University ITMO of Saint Petersburg, with the participation of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation.

The Conference was opened by Prof. Elena Bogdanova, Director of the International Business and Law Institute of ITMO, Mr. Kokorev, Chairman of the Board of the  “International Center of External Economic Activities Development CADUCEUS” Fund, Mr. Komlichenko, Deputy Director General, Russian Customs, and the Secretary General of the WCO, Mr. Kunio Mikuriya. The Conference focused on three topics: the WCO Economic Competitiveness Package; the impact on Customs of various regional integration initiatives; and enhancing professionalism in Customs, that is to say how to operationalize the PICARD 2020 Strategic Document. During the Conference, presentations on high-quality research outcomes, panel discussions and workshops were organized, leading to intensive interaction with and among the participants.

In his opening address and his various contributions on the three Conference topics, Secretary General Mikuriya welcomed the input by academia and the exchange of ideas and experience under the WCO PICARD umbrella, which would be taken into account in the WCO’s policy discussions. In this context, he encouraged participants to invest in even more research in support of Customs’ decision-making processes. He expressed the WCO’s determination to remain agile to the changing global trade landscape, and to keep WCO instruments relevant in support of economic competitiveness. He also highlighted the critical role played by Customs in regional co-operation and integration initiatives and the necessity to enhance Customs capacity building in respect of professionalism.

As a new feature of the WCO PICARD Conference, the host university organized a half-day Youth Forum immediately after the Conference. It brought together students from various universities who held lively discussions with Conference speakers and participants on topics raised during the Conference, as well as on future career possibilities in Customs and in the international arena.

As a side event to the Conference, many participants took the opportunity to visit the State Hermitage Museum where they admired one of the oldest written Customs tariffs, the “Palmyrian Tariff”. It is a marble slab bearing text in Aramaic and Greek, setting forth a law issued on 18 April 137 AD concerning the levying of duty on goods imported into Palmyra, a major trading centre in the Syrian Desert prior to the Year 273.

Participants expressed their appreciation to the host university for its hospitality and support for this year’s PICARD Conference.