WCO participates in AAEI's 99th Annual Conference

13 August 2020

At the invitation of the American Association of Exporter and Importers (AAEI), Mr. Ricardo Treviño, Deputy Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), has participated in this year’s AAEI Annual Conference which is taking place online from 11 August to 3 September 2020, with over 400 participants attending. This Conference aims to provide a forum for policy-makers to speak directly to international trade professionals about the benefits and shortcomings of the multilateral trading system.

Together with Mr. Alan Wolff, Deputy Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Deputy Secretary General Treviño discussed trade and Customs matters at a live panel session entitled “What is the Future of Trade: Multilateral or Bilateral?”, held on 11 August 2020. The panel was moderated by Ms. Marianne Rowden, President and CEO of the AAEI, who began by highlighting the differences between WCO and WTO working methods and structures, as well as the main objectives of the two Organizations.

During his intervention, Deputy Secretary General Treviño explained the nature of the WCO as the only intergovernmental organization dealing with Customs matters and focusing on standard-setting, capacity building delivery, and fostering Customs-to-Customs cooperation.  He continued by emphasizing that almost all of the WCO’s technical bodies are open to the entire WCO membership, and therefore all WCO Members can contribute to the development of the Organization’s standards, instruments and tools. “This openness is important for the Organization, because it allows Members from countries at different development levels and with different trading environments to work collectively on standards that would be acceptable to the majority, being another step towards the higher harmonization of border procedures”, he said. “Through the work done in Trade facilitation and e-commerce, this openness and inclusiveness do not only concern Members, but also other international trade stakeholders,” he added.

After Mr. Treviño had mentioned the large number of bilateral and multilateral agreements, he was asked by the moderator to address this issue in the context of the SAFE Framework of Standards and Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) for Authorized Economic Operators (AEOs). In response, he highlighted the highly critical relevance of the SAFE Framework of Standards, adding that to date, 171 Members have signed the Letter of Intent to implement these Standards. Moreover there are 95 operational AEO programmes – not to mention the ones which are under negotiation –, plus another 20 which are under development, as well as 85 MRAs which provide the ultimate benefits to traders, operating in both the country of origin and the country of destination. For his part, WTO Deputy Director General Wolff highlighted the close cooperation between the WTO and the WCO, and the relevance of this cooperation in matters such as trade facilitation, tariffs, valuation and origin.