Bahrain conference advances WCO and ICAO priorities on air cargo security and facilitation

17 April 2014

Press release

Manama, Bahrain, 17 April 2014

The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) completed a joint conference on air cargo security and facilitation in Manama, Bahrain today, reinforcing their common message that a secure and efficient air cargo supply chain is essential for international trade and world economic development.

Hosted by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the joint conference brought together over 300 participants from States, international and regional organizations, regulatory authorities and industry stakeholders.

In his opening speech, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya said that "securing and facilitating the flow of air cargo promotes economic growth and recovery. To achieve this, cooperation between Customs, aviation authorities, and others at the global, regional, and national levels is essential.  The WCO’s close collaboration with ICAO, UPU, business, and other stakeholders is ensuring that yesterday, today, and tomorrow, air cargo is both secure and facilitated."

“ICAO has been very encouraged by recent joint efforts to make civil aviation more secure, especially in the air cargo and related supply chain areas with our colleagues from the WCO,” commented ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin. “We are also pleased to see the complementary focus being placed by all concerned on improving the facilitation of air cargo, especially in light of the fact that world airlines carry close to 50 million tonnes of freight per year, or approximately one-third of all international trade by value.”

The WCO and ICAO took advantage of the Bahrain gathering to reinforce their priorities relating to the implementation of a global secure supply chain, taking into account the diversity of goods transported by air, the vast number of entities involved in the supply chain, and the practical realities of trying to streamline transnational operations in the face of multiple regulatory environments.

The conference discussed a number of national and regional cooperation models between civil aviation and Customs authorities and called on States to intensify regional and national cooperation. Solutions agreed included the coordinated implementation of risk-based and outcomes-focused international air cargo and mail security measures adaptable to local circumstances.

The conference also supported the streamlining of global supply chain documentation and processes to benefit both security and facilitation objectives. It welcomed some promising `e-freight` and ‘single-window’ initiatives in this regard, and considered that advance cargo information, by contributing to risk assessments for cargo and mail, could assist in applying timely and appropriate security controls earlier in the supply chain.

In considering the interconnected nature of the air cargo supply chain, the conference recommended undertaking feasibility studies, impact assessments and operational pilot projects to evaluate innovative processes. WCO and ICAO further agreed that their cooperation should be expanded beyond efforts to enhance aviation security and facilitation, mainly so that they could advance separate air cargo and mail objectives in the areas of dangerous goods, economic development and environmental protection.

More Information

ICAO - WCO Joint Conference on Enhancing Air Cargo Security and Facilitation:

ICAO-WCO “Moving Air Cargo Globally” free publication:

The ICAO Air Cargo website:

Joint communiqué on enhancing Air Cargo Security and Facilitation – collaborative solutions to future challenges: