Seventh Worldwide Security Conference

18 February 2010

EastWest Institute

Seventh Worldwide Security Conference

WCO Headquarters, Brussels, 18 February 2010

Welcome and Introduction by Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you here, with the EastWest Institute, to the home of the international Customs community.

Let me briefly review the progress we have made over the past 12 months.

When we met last year, it was amid the financial crisis and global economic security was at stake. Since then we have been able to mitigate the risk of a 1930s-type catastrophe, thanks to the preservation of the open trading system. In this respect, recognizing the creeping risk of protectionism and the rise in unemployment, the WCO appealed to the G20 leaders at their Summit in April 2009 to pay heed to the need to facilitate trade as a means of sustaining the recovery; this was subsequently reflected in the G20 Communiqué. Without this, we could run the risk of excluding the disadvantaged even further from prosperity, with the attendant risk of radicalization.

Another global concern over the past year has been climate security. The WCO chose the “Protection of the environment” as its theme for 2009 and organized several joint operations at the border to better control the movement of environmentally sensitive goods. We are carefully following the outcomes of the Copenhagen Summit and their further development, in order to fully define the role of Customs in this regard.

Nowadays, the WCO encourages Customs around the world to act as a global network to establish and maintain a secure supply chain based on a consistent risk-management approach. A recent survey we conducted shows that Customs administrations are making steady progress towards implementation of the WCO SAFE standards in order to secure and facilitate trade. Built on this international cooperation, the US Department of Homeland Security has raised its voice in support of the WCO risk-management-based approach, as opposed to 100% scanning of US-bound cargo mandated by the US Congress and scheduled for implementation in 2012.

In spite of these endeavours, however, the risk still persists, as evidenced by the recent failed bombing attempt by a transatlantic air passenger on Christmas Day. We need better coordination with other government agencies in sharing intelligence on the movement of people and goods in order to enhance border management.

However, we also need to be prepared when unforeseen incidents occur. The WCO has developed guidance for trade recovery contingencies to address this risk, built on the APEC model. Another risk about which we are increasingly concerned is that of cyber-threats which could be exploited by criminal and terrorist organizations to undermine IT security in the supply chain.

Naturally, these efforts require a meaningful and sustained partnership with businesses involved in international trade. Customs should work with reliable economic operators to reduce security risk and facilitate trade. This is why the WCO has chosen the Customs-Business Partnership as this year’s theme.

I hope that this view from the Customs perspective will give you some food for thought and I wish you a fruitful exchange of views as you help shape the global security agenda during your conference.

Thank you for your attention.