At the invitation of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretary, Mr. Jingyuan Xia, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya made a keynote speech on the importance of closer cooperation between Customs and phytosanitary agencies in relation with trade facilitation during the Twelfth Session of the Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM-12), held in Incheon, Korea on 5 April 2017.
After the welcome speech by Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Mr. Jae-Soo Kim, Dr. Mikuriya addressed the representatives of national plant quarantine authorities of over 112 countries about the timeliness of the annual theme of IPPC "Plant Health and Trade Facilitation" as the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, incorporating the provision of border agency cooperation, had entered in force in February 2017. He added that Customs and Sanitary and Phytosanitary agencies are working side by side to ensure connectivity at borders. Secretary General Mikuriya explained WCO’s efforts regarding trade facilitation in terms of standard setting with Implementation Guides, capacity building with Mercator Programme and Coordinated Border Management approach (CBM) through supporting the establishment of National Committees on Trade Facilitation. CBM includes the development of Single Window with the support of WCO Data Model and one stop service, sharing information, comparison of risk management by different agencies and finding synergy between WCO's Authorized Economic Operator and business standards of other international organizations to improve compliance of business and provide more facilitation measures. Secretary General Mikuriya suggested a joint effort in organizing seminars and sharing best practices between the two organizations to support closer cooperation between Customs and phytosanitary agencies at the national level.
Dr Mikuriya’s speech was appreciated as it underscored the importance of the IPPC in protecting the world's plant resources from pests and facilitating safe trade in plants and plant products as well as helping to raise awareness on trade facilitation and the need to work with WCO, among other stakeholders.
Secretary General Mikuriya also took the opportunity to meet the Commissioner of Korea Customs Service, Mr. Hong-Uk Chun to further discuss the close collaboration between Customs and other government agencies, including quarantine authorities, as well as the use of technology in Customs in achieving this goal. He also made a tour of the Incheon Airport Customs to observe the new Express Cargo Clearance Center opened last year in response to the growing volume of e-commerce.