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Report on the visit to the Russian Federal Customs Service

02 febrero 2009

Report on the visit to the Russian Federal Customs Service

Moscow, 21 January 2009

At the invitation of the Russian Federal Customs Service (FCS), Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Moscow from 20-22 January 2009. He met Russian FCS Head, Andrei Belyaninov, on 21 January 2009 to explore areas for common action. Stating that the new priorities of the WCO largely coincide with those of Russia, Mr. Belyaninov expressed his willingness to enhance cooperation with the WCO in a wide range of areas. Mr. Mikuriya also visited the Customs Museum to learn the history of customs cooperation in Russia, and the Central Customs Laboratory to seek further cooperation in this field. In the Kashirskiy customs post he observed the new internet-based customs automation system that became operational in October 2008.

On the following day Mr. Mikuriya had a meeting with the members of the Moscow International Business Association to discuss progress made in the customs-business partnership and further challenges to improve the investment climate as result of economic uncertainty caused by the global financial crisis.

The broad line of dialogue between Mr. Belyaninov and Mr. Mikuriya, published on the Russian Customs web site http://www.customs.ru/en/, appears below:

On January 21, 2008 negotiations between the Russian FCS Head Andrei Belyaninov and the WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya were held at the Federal Customs Service. Kunio Mikuriya arrived in Russia for a three-day visit by invitation of the Russian Customs Service. Mr. Belyaninov thanked the WCO Head for his visit to Russia since his appointment to the new position. Mr. Mikuriya, who was elected as Secretary General of this influential international organization during the WCO Council sessions in June 2008, took office on January 1, 2009 . The Russian FCS Head appreciated Mr. Mikuriya’s fruitful work as the WCO Deputy Secretary General, which contributed to the modernization of customs services all over the world. He also noted that many of Mr. Mikuriya’s ideas which he had voiced during his election campaign coincide with the ideas implemented by the Russian FCS . It is a significant foundation for more fruitful cooperation between Russian Customs and the WCO”.

The foreign visitor was apprised of Russian customs work, first of all in terms of coordination of activities within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC), the Customs Committee of the Allied States, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization ( SCO ). According to Mr. Belyaninov the work is well-coordinated due to the fact that the negotiations are held in Russian.

Meanwhile the main scope of work relating to international cooperation relates to bilateral relations between customs services. These relations are very intensive and are considered fruitful. For example, last week a Russian FCS delegation headed by Mr. A. Belyaninov visited China . China was committed to closer cooperation with Russia in respect of customs. Moreover, the Russian FCS believes that the WCO could be more active in the process if it integrated relationships between national customs administrations.

Mr. Belyaninov stated that one of the focuses for the WCO could be to coordinate work on integration of information systems used by customs services of different countries. Russia did this during the development of advance information exchange between the Russian Federation and the 12 countries of the European Union project, which lasted 2 years. There is, unfortunately, not always a processing capability to efficiently exchange information between customs administrations. Therefore, according to the Russian Customs Service Head, there is a need for “passepartout”, which would allow customs officers to work in a “common information space” using software solutions available to everyone. The Russian FCS believes that such a project should be voluntary and be available to other national customs administrations joining in the future who are not yet ready for reforms in this field.

Mr. Belyaninov highly appreciated cooperation in the law enforcement field, including a close relationship between the RFCS and the WCO, particularly through the CEN which permits law enforcement information exchange. Information transfer between the WCO and its members is provided through 11 regional communication centres also known as Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILO), one of which is in Moscow .

Moreover, according to the Russian FCS there is huge potential for increasing the WCO role in the coordination of cooperation between law enforcement departments in customs services around the globe.

Appreciating the cooperation between the WCO and the Russian FCS, Mr. Mikuriya pointed out his commitment to expansion which recognized the need for the integration of national automated information systems used by customs administrations. He pointed out that the WCO intended to finish the development of its Data Mode this year, which could be useful as a solution to the problem.

Speaking of coordination of law enforcement activities for customs services, the WCO Secretary General advocated the need to strengthen this work stream in the organization headed by him and expressed his hope for further cooperation with the Russian Customs Service in this field.

Besides that, Mr. Mikuriya asked the Russian FCS leaders for help in realizing a new project connected to providing technical support to customs services in post-Soviet countries relating to complex inspection and research, taking into account Russian expertise in this area.

Mr. Mikuriya agreed with the opinion of the Russian FCS about the lack of use of the Russian language in the work of the WCO and expressed the hope that Russian speaking countries would facilitate the process of expanding the list of working languages within the Organization.

Having seen the work of the Central Expert-Criminal Customs Authority, the WCO Secretary General highly appreciated what it was doing and proposed to share its experience, including the struggle against falsification, with others. Mr. Belyaninov welcomed the suggestion, particularly because the Russian Customs Service was recognized in 2007 as one of the world’s best customs administrations in the struggle against falsification.