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WCO contributes to the 13th ASEM Customs Directors-General and Commissioners Meeting

11 octubre 2019

At the invitation of Mr. Nguyen Van Can, Director General of Vietnam Customs and Host and Chair of the Meeting, the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, attended and spoke at the 13th Meeting of Customs Directors-General and Commissioners from Europe and Asian Members of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).  The Meeting was held in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh Province, Vietnam on 9 and 10 October 2019.

The 13th ASEM Directors-General (DGs) Meeting served as a forum for high-level delegates from 53 Customs administrations who met and shared best practices on Customs management activities, as well as addressing emerging challenges facing the Asian and European Customs community.  Together, they discussed and put forward the 2020-2021 ASEM Customs Action Plan to further enhance Customs cooperation, aimed at facilitating legitimate trade, protecting society and the environment from illicit trade posing security, safety and health threats, and improving the visibility of and communication by ASEM Members.

During the opening session, Mr. Do Hoang Anh Tuan, Vice-Minister of Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance, kicked off the meeting by acknowledging the important role played by the Customs community in strengthening collaboration between Asia and Europe, thus contributing to enhanced economic growth as well as providing effective measures to cope with the emerging challenges posed by the rise in e-commerce, security and environmental issues.

Dr. Mikuriya began his speech by referring to the changing trade environment in which Customs administrations were operating compared to the situation two years ago, when the last ASEM Customs DGs meeting was held in Berlin.  At the last meeting, DGs had discussed the opportunities offered by globalization and digitization.  He pointed out that the world was now facing fresh challenges, including a slow-down in globalization and increasing uncertainty due to trade tensions, as well as evolving threats posed by climate change and environmental pollution.  It was therefore all the more important to enhance cooperation and connectivity between these two dynamic regions, Asia and Europe, each enjoying a high-level of regional integration.  He expressed his hope that the Meeting would showcase best practices for inter-regional cooperation and provide direction for the future Customs agenda.

While taking into account the results of the 2018 ASEM Summit that had stressed the importance of connectivity between the two continents, the Meeting adopted a new Action Plan 2020-2021, based on a review of the outcomes of the current Action Plan 2018-19.  The Plan covers seven areas: transit, transhipment, disruptive technologies, single window, hazardous waste, e-commerce (safety and security areas) and visibility of ASEM.

The WCO Secretary General welcomed the new Action Plan, which displays a great deal of synergy with the WCO priorities defined in its Strategic Plan.  While praising successful operations by Vietnam Customs to curb the illegal importation of containers filled with hazardous waste, despite pressure from the trading community, Dr. Mikuriya specifically offered the WCO’s support and coordination in the area of controlling transboundary movements of waste.

The Meeting participants as a whole expressed their gratitude for the excellent organization and warm hospitality extended by Vietnam Customs.  The event was widely reported by social media in Vietnam.