ADB-ESCAP webinar highlights the role of Customs during COVID-19

03 diciembre 2020

At the invitation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, spoke at the High-Level Meeting on Regional Cooperation for Trade and Transport Connectivity in the Age of Pandemics in Asia and the Pacific, held virtually on 2 December 2020. The aim of his intervention was to underline the vital role played by Customs in ensuring regional connectivity during the current emergency situation.

Secretary General Mikuriya described WCO initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic to support Members' efforts in ensuring supply chain transparency and predictability, given that Customs is a key link in that chain. Accordingly, the WCO has created a repository of Members' practices in response to the pandemic and set up a regular dialogue with the private sector. 

Dr. Mikuriya suggested three overarching areas for regional cooperation, based on the experience gained: Coordinated Border Management (CBM) to enhance inter-agency cooperation, including initiatives driven by the ASEAN Single Window; ADB and ESCAP initiatives for digitalization of border clearance and control procedures; and capacity building to enhance stakeholder preparedness. 

In response to delegates’ questions, Dr. Mikuriya referred to a wealth of WCO instruments and tools for facilitating the clearance of essential goods in times of crisis, including the WCO/WHO HS Classification List for COVID-19 Medical Supplies and the ongoing development of a guidance document on disaster management and supply chain continuity. 

He also stressed the importance of regional cooperation for helping Members implement the WCO’s global standards and enabling business to benefit from Customs reform and modernization, in line with WCO standards and best practices.