Border control authorities around the world all face the same dilemma – increasing volumes of people and goods – without any corresponding increase in resources, notwithstanding slowing trade flows brought about by the current global economic downturn. Traders and travellers too have greater expectations for speedier processing and clearance times whilst governments and society expect border authorities to rigorously apply the law in order to protect their interests, safeguard the health and safety of their citizens, and ensure national security. This means balancing trade facilitation on the one hand with trade security on the other—allowing legitimate goods and travellers to pass through borders without unnecessary hindrances while protecting the international trade supply chain from threats posed by organized crime, smugglers, commercial fraudsters, terrorists, and even goods that could endanger people.
Coordinated border management (CBM) is now recognized by the Customs community as a potential solution for the challenges that the 21st century presents especially with respect to efficient and effective border management. Its importance resulted in the concept being included in the WCO Council’s strategic policy on Customs in the 21st Century that was adopted in June 2008 where it is listed as one of the 10 key building blocks for managing borders in today’s environment.
A coordinated approach by border control agencies lays at the heart of the CBM concept, in the context of seeking greater efficiencies in managing trade and travel flows, while maintaining a balance with security requirements. The term gives prominence to the general principle of coordination of policies, programmes and delivery among cross-border regulatory agencies rather than favoring any single solution.
An essential part of CBM involves dialogue between Customs and other agencies at the border as well as between Customs and the business community; hence the World Customs Organization’s initiative in organizing its first Inter-Agency Forum on Coordinated Border Management during July 2009. The Forum raised awareness about the CBM concept and its benefits and was intended to encourage governments and individual border agencies to engage one another more actively to ensure better and smarter management of national borders.