Secretary General


On 24 June 2023, Mr. Ian Saunders was elected Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO). He took office on 1 January 2024.

As WCO Secretary General, he provides leadership and executive management for the global Customs community’s priorities, including developing global Customs instruments, standards and tools; securing and facilitating global trade; protecting revenue collection; building Customs-business partnerships; and delivering capacity building in support of Customs reform and modernization.

Prior to joining the WCO, Mr. Saunders worked as Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere at the U.S. Department of Commerce. In this role, he was responsible for developing programmes, policies and strategies designed to strengthen the United States’ commercial position in this region of the globe.

Mr. Saunders spent most of his career with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where he held several senior positions including Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs, and Acting Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner for Operations Support. Earlier in his tenure at CBP, he was Director of International Policy and Programs, Director of International Training and Assistance, and held several staff positions working on bilateral, regional and multilateral portfolios. Mr. Saunders entered the U.S. Government Senior Executive Service in 2008.

He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Affairs from Georgetown University in Washington DC, and has attended executive courses at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the American University.

Latest speeches

Date Event Title Venue
8 May 2024 6th WCO Global AEO Conference Harnessing the Power of AEO Programmes for Inclusive and Sustainable Global Trade, Official opening ceremony
Shenzhen, China