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SAFE Working Group consolidates its futuristic agenda

04 noviembre 2019

The 22nd Meeting of the SAFE Working Group (SWG) was held from 23 to 25 October 2019 at the WCO headquarters in Brussels. This Meeting brought together over 140 delegates from Customs administrations, partner government agencies, the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG), international organizations and academia to discuss issues concerning the effective implementation and maintenance of the SAFE Framework of Standards (FoS), AEO programmes, and other associated topics for enhancing supply chain security and efficiency.  

Welcoming delegates and acknowledging their valuable contribution to the SWG’s work, Mrs. Ana B. Hinojosa, WCO Director Compliance and Facilitation, highlighted that while supply chains were becoming more international and complex and technological advancements were paving the way for more efficient and inclusive global trade, there were also increasing vulnerabilities and threats to supply chain security and integrity. To that end, SWG’s ongoing work and its futuristic agenda would provide a concerted global response from the international Customs community to the current and emerging challenges to make borders more seamless and secure.

Guided by the Co-Chairs Ms. Suzanne Stauffer (the EU) and Mr. Jaime King (the PSCG), the SWG discussed and carried out work on a number of topics.  

Taking forward the 2021 SAFE review cycle, the SWG considered the SAFE review proposals, related suggestions/comments, and draft texts put forward by SAFE Review Sub-Group, and provided further guidance for carrying out additional collaborative work by the Sub-Group with a view to maintain the SAFE FoS relevant and dynamic.

In terms of the key deliverables, the SWG endorsed the Joint WCO-ICAO Guiding Principles for Pre-loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI) that are aimed at assisting Members in carrying air cargo and mail security risk assessment, should they decide to implement a PLACI regime.

It also approved questionnaires on the implementation of Pillars 1 and 3 of the SAFE FoS for developing respective Compendiums, recognizing the value of this work as a positive step forward in ascertaining Members’ SAFE implementation status and its impact. These compendiums would he useful for benchmarking and tailor-made capacity building activities, thus contributing to harmonized implementation of the SAFE FoS. Members were requested to volunteer joining the pilot testing of the questionnaires.

Noting diverse views of delegates on account-based management, the SWG approved a template for collecting Members’ case studies  to create a ‘living repository’ that would help enhance understanding on account-based management.

Based on a proposal put forward by United Arab Emirates (Dubai Customs), the SWG agreed to digitalize the AEO Compendium with appropriate rules on access control, data security and data protection, and provided guidance on initiating the associated process by inviting interested Members to join an envisaged pilot.

Delegates reviewed the draft study report on Smart Security Devices (SSD) and invited Members and private sector stakeholders to provide further input and case studies for enriching the draft study report.

The SWG also examined the draft guidance on regional/plurilateral AEO programmes and MRAs, as well as the draft Guidelines on the alignment of the WCO AEO programme and the ICAO Regulated Agent (RA)/Known Consignor (KC) programmes, and provided input and guidance for developing it further. In addition, it was decided to review and update the AEO Implementation Guidance, as appropriate.

Continuing the discussion on AEO 2.0, delegates further reflected on the draft concept paper and offered additional thoughts and futuristic ideas with a view to maintaining and strengthening quality standards of the existing AEO programmes, as well as enhancing them to the next level.

Delegates strongly supported and acknowledged the efforts made by the WCO and IMO Secretariats to reinvigorate and enhance collaboration, and discussed cooperation opportunities between Customs, port authorities and relevant maritime stakeholders to further strengthen collaboration with IMO in the area of supply chain security and facilitation. In this connection, delegates examined a preliminary mapping of the WCO SAFE AEO programme and the IMO ISPS Code with a view to identifying synergies, differences/gaps and potential opportunities for harmonization.

Other highlights of this meeting included discussions on the AEO authorization management and related processes and responsibilities, the harmonization of cross-border control measures, and data analytics for risk management by leveraging modern technologies such as blockchain.

Throughout the meeting, many interesting and informative presentations were given by several delegates and experts from the industry and academia on various aspects of the SAFE FoS including AEO programmes and MRAs and its implementation including blockchain-based initiatives/pilots from a Customs perspective.