WCO 2014 Council Sessions Conclude in Brussels, Launch WCO Mercator Programme

28 June 2014

Heads of Customs administrations representing the 179 Members of the World Customs Organization (WCO) met in Brussels, Belgium from 26 to 28 June 2014 for the 123rd/124th  Sessions of the WCO Council under Chairperson Josephine Feehily, the Chairman of the Irish Customs and tax administration.

This year’s Council discussions focused on, among other things, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), Customs-business partnerships, the transition away from pre-shipment inspection and destination inspection services, and combating illegal wildlife trade.

Members of the Council also recognized the critical role played by research, technical assistance and capacity building, knowledge promotion and the sharing of intelligence and information, as well as the need for well-coordinated international cooperation and effective trade management and enforcement tools, leading to enhanced risk management, more extensive connectivity, and better coordinated border management.

The WCO launched the Mercator Programme to support WCO Members as they begin to implement the WTO TFA. 

The WCO Council was visited by Roberto Azevêdo, the Director-General of the WTO, who gave a keynote address and expressed his appreciation for the WTO-WCO partnership, especially related to the TFA.

The WCO signed agreements with Japan Customs for a Regional Customs Laboratory in Japan and German Customs for a Regional Dog Training Centre in Germany.

The WCO and China signed an agreement for the creation of a China Customs Co-operation Fund.

The WCO and Korea signed an agreement for expanding the Korea Customs Co-operation Fund.

The WCO Council witnessed Brunei Darussalam deposit their instruments of accession to the Harmonized System, bringing the number of Contracting Parties to this WCO instrument to 150.

The WCO Council witnessed Togo and Cambodia deposit their instruments of accession to the Revised Kyoto Convention, bringing the number of Contracting Parties to this WCO instrument to 94.

The WCO Council unanimously adopted the Declaration on the Illegal Wildlife Trade that reinforces the commitment of the global Customs community to fight against this type of crime. Having underscored an imminent threat posed by the growth in illegal wildlife trade and having emphasised the determination of the Customs administrations to serve as an effective and efficient deterrent against the proliferation of this phenomenon, the Declaration contains ten action points, the implementation of which will allow Customs administrations to achieve better results in this domain.

Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) mutual recognition agreements (MRA) were signed between Japan and Malaysia; Hong Kong China and Singapore; and the United States and Israel.

Iceland won the annual WCO photo/poster/video competition.

The 2014 sessions included the election of Mr. Zouhair Chorfi of Morocco as Chairperson of the Council, and the re-election of Mr. Sergio Mujica of Chile as Deputy Secretary General of the WCO, for a five-year term.

Secretary General Mikuriya congratulated Mr. Chorfi for his election as Chairperson of the Council and Mr.Mujica for his re-election as WCO Deputy Secretary General. 

Secretary General Mikuriya recognized the outstanding contributions made by Council Chairperson Josephine Feehily from Ireland over the last few years to the success of the Organization and wished her well in her future endeavors.

Commenting on the outcomes of the annual sessions, Secretary General Mikuriya said, “The launch of the WCO’s Mercator Programme to support implementation of the WTO TFA reflects the sustained commitment of WCO Members to trade facilitation.  The WCO Mercator Programme is aimed at assisting governments worldwide to implement the TFA expeditiously and in a harmonized manner by using core WCO instruments and tools, and also WCO technical assistance and capacity building delivery.”

Highlights of the 2014 Council sessions will appear in the next issue of the WCO News magazine.