Progress achieved with SAFE Review Cycle 2021 during 23rd/24th SWG Meetings

08 octubre 2020

The 23rd/24th Meetings of the SAFE Working Group (SWG) were held from 14 August to 02 October 2020, in two phases: a document-based consultation phase on the WCO’s CLiKC! Platform, and three virtual Meeting sessions on the KUDO platform.  Despite some challenges, the virtual Meeting mode has proved advantageous in some respects, especially in attracting a record number of participants.  More than 200 delegates from 70 Customs administrations, as well as 30 delegates from the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG), other international organizations and several Universities, registered for these Meetings.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation, thanked delegates for their active participation in Phase 1 noting that the SWG Discussion Forum received 3,785 views from 126 users. Acknowledging the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Co-Chairs Mr. Abdulrahman Athukair (Saudi Arabia) and Mr. John Mein (PSCG) called for strong partnership between Customs and the private sector to help further build the resilience of cross-border supply chains.

Regarding the 2021 SAFE Review Cycle, delegates had an opportunity to review all 28 SAFE Review proposals, including five new proposals submitted during Phase 1 of the Meetings. While certain proposals received strong support and will be included in the SAFE Framework of Standards (SAFE FoS) 2021, a significant number of proposals were identified as requiring further work to clarify their content and to refine the proposed texts. Having seen the convenience of holding discussions on CLiKC!, the SWG decided to reopen the discussion topic on this Forum for intersessional work.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the development of the draft AEO Implementation and Validation Guidance attracted great interest.  WCO Members and the PSCG have been working together to review the current tools in the SAFE Package and proposed streamlining the current AEO Implementation and Validation Guidance and including the concept of conducting virtual validations or revalidations.

The SWG was informed that the Technical Experts Group on Air Cargo Security (TEGACS) had fulfilled its Terms of Reference by adopting its report on key deliverables to the Policy Commission. This report had been endorsed by the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) at its 227th/228th Sessions and will be submitted to the upcoming Policy Commission session for approval. Furthermore, the Meeting endorsed the updated version of the WCO Guidelines for the Procurement and Deployment of Scanning/Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment (NII Guidelines), and provided suggestions for NII-related topics to be discussed at future meetings of the TEG-NII and the SWG.

Dubai Customs provided an update on the 5th WCO Global AEO Conference and the Digital AEO Compendium development project. Members showed great interest in the proposed Business case of the Digital AEO Compendium and requested that issues relating to its financial implications and governance be further elaborated so the SWG can better understand the implications of this project.  

Finally, the SWG discussed the capacity building and technical assistance in the SAFE/AEO areas. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the WCO continues to deliver capacity building missions in a virtual modes. Given Members’ great interest in this topic, especially with regard to the evaluation of capacity building activities, the SWG agreed to continue its discussions on this matter at the next meeting.

The WCO’s SAFE FoS was adopted in June 2005 and has become a flagship WCO tool for securing and facilitating global trade. Over the last 15 years, the SAFE FoS has been updated regularly to respond to emerging threats to global supply chain security and provide further benefits for AEOs and Trusted Traders. For more information about the SAFE FoS and its related guidance, please visit: http://www.wcoomd.org/en/topics/facilitation/instrument-and-tools/frameworks-of-standards/safe_package.aspx.