Visit to Belarus by the WCO Secretary General

29 September 2009

Visit to Belarus by the WCO Secretary General

22 to 23 September 2009


On 22 September 2009, the WCO Secretary General arrived in Minsk (Belarus) to celebrate Belarus’ Customs Day at the invitation of Mr. Aleksandr Shpilevsky, the Belarus Director General of Customs.

Mr. Mikuriya paid a courtesy visited to Mr. A. Kobyakov, Belarus’ Deputy Prime Minister who was in charge of the country’s economic development. The Secretary General took the opportunity to briefly outline current WCO activities and the key elements of the WCO’s “Customs in the 21st Century” strategy. He also expressed his appreciation for Belarus Customs’ role and contribution to the implementation of the WCO capacity building programme.

According to Mr. Kobyakov, his Government was currently focussing on efforts to fully establish the Customs Union between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

As this major economic project would greatly facilitate the import and export of goods between the Europe and Asia, he stressed that the Customs services of the three countries had a major role to play in implementing the project which at this stage involved the drafting of a new Customs Code for the Customs Union. He mentioned that another important issue that the Union faced was the adoption of a single Customs Tariff by member countries. Also, the lack of funds for technical equipment at Belarus’ border check points with the EU (ICT, NII scanners, x-ray equipment, etc.) remained a problem which requires interaction with donors.

As the country bordered on the EU, Belarus was determined to ensure that its Customs and transit procedures were fully compliant with international standards, so for this reason the country hoped to accede to the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) by end of 2009. In this context, Belarus Customs has been engaging the EC on the possibility of pilot projects with EU countries on preliminary exchange of electronic data on goods. 

Belarus was hopeful that the Declaration on Strengthening Cooperation which had been signed between Belarus, Poland and the Ukraine the day before would positively influence current relations with the EU.

Later the WCO Secretary General attended a staff meeting dedicated to Belarus’ Customs Day where he made a presentation stressing the importance of strengthening face-to face cooperation between Customs administrations at all levels as this would contribute to the overall success of any initiatives. Mr. Mikuriya mentioned the excellent level of cooperation between Belarus, Poland and the Ukraine as a concrete example of good cooperation.

The Secretary General’s visit was covered by the press and carried on local TV news programmes.