WCO celebrates International Customs Day 2019 and invites Members to share best practices on “SMART borders”

29 January 2019

The World Customs Organization (WCO) celebrated International Customs Day (ICD) on 25 January 2019 in Brussels, Belgium, and officially launched the theme of the year: “SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport.”

At WCO Headquarters, guests were welcomed by Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, who explained the importance for Customs to ensure a secure, measurable, automated, risk-management-based and technology-driven environment with a view to creating conditions conducive to securing trade, travel and transport across borders.  The Secretary General invited Customs administrations to promote the theme of “SMART borders” and share their best practices.

The event was co-organized by Netherlands Customs, represented by Ms. Nanette van Schelven, General Director of the Netherlands Customs Administration, who addressed the guests and shared her views on how best to deal with some of the current challenges faced by Customs, such as the rapidly growing trade volumes generated by, for example, e-commerce, and ever-expanding air travel; she also conveyed her understanding of what was implied by this year’s theme of “SMART borders”.

The celebration was enlivened by the screening of videos on the “Internet of Logistics” and the use of drones in enforcement activities in Rotterdam Harbour, with explanations by Customs officers closely involved in these programmes, as well as the opportunity to sample some Dutch delicacies in a joyful atmosphere created by the Netherlands Customs Orchestra.  

Earlier in the day, Secretary General Mikuriya had participated in Belgium Customs’ ICD celebration at Brussels City Hall, presided by Mr. Kristian Vanderwaeren, Belgium’s General Administrator of Customs and Excise. After keynote speeches and a ceremony to honour deserving Customs officers, a parade led by the Belgian Ministry of Finance official Music Band set out to the iconic Statue of the Manneken-Pis, who was dressed in a Customs officer’s uniform for the occasion. Belgian Customs, in collaboration with the WCO also placed a banner at Brussels airport to mark this occasion.

This year’s theme also references the role Customs is playing in supporting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by creating transparent and predictable conditions for trade, and facilitating legitimate trade that will contribute to economic growth and job opportunities.