WCO addresses the US Interagency Committee on WCO matters

22 October 2014

At the invitation of US Commissioner of Customs, Mr. Gil Kerlikowske, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya addressed the US Interagency Committee on WCO matters.

The Committee is made up of representatives of more than twenty government agencies responsible for the implementation of government policy through regulation at borders. The Committee's primary objective is to successfully coordinate each agency so as to optimize and ensure the smooth flow of legitimate trade while at the same time maximizing the protection of society from illicit trade of dangerous products.

Addressing the Committee, Secretary General Mikuriya highlighted the importance of enhanced coordination in reducing transaction costs thereby increasing the economic competitiveness of a country. The WCO had produced many high quality Instruments and Standards to this effect, including the Economic Competitiveness Package developed from the Revised Kyoto Convention which now counts almost one hundred Contracting Parties, the SAFE Framework of Standards with its recent revision, and the Data Model for consistent data presentation that prepares for the introduction of a Single Window.  In addition, the WCO compiled and disseminated best practice procedures on a range of activities from Members worldwide.

The WCO has also worked on establishing standards and tools to address evolving and emerging risks in the global supply chain, including revenue, drugs, IPR and health and safety of consumers, security, and the environment.  The Secretary General detailed some of the global operations to improve enforcement capabilities of Members to address these risks, such as Operation Cosmo for strategic trade controls and environment-related projects against illicit wildlife trade and hazardous waste, as well as tools currently being rolled out, including Cargo Targeting System and the COPES, and thanked the US for their support.  

The Secretary General also referred to the Harmonized System, the bedrock of international trade, produced and maintained by the WCO, and its highly active technical assistance and capacity building program.

In a wide-ranging discussion delegates representing the various agencies present raised such issues as: the need for political support for meaningful reform, coordinated operational activity, risk management and cargo targeting systems, enforcement follow-up including investigation and sharing information with other authorities,  environmental protection, strategic goods control and consumer protection, global recovery standards, disaster relief including the response to issues such as the current Ebola outbreak, the use of product identification codes, and private sector consultation. The USCBP underlined the importance of providing all necessary resources to the WCO to carry out the broad range of its programs and activities.

The Secretary General, recognizing the importance of such an initiative to establish a Committee for a better coordinated border management, thanked the Commissioner for the opportunity to meet and discuss with the Committee composed of delegates with such diverse responsibilities and wished the Committee continued success.