WCO Secretary General’s visit to Swiss Customs

29 March 2010

WCO Secretary General’s visit to Swiss Customs

25 March 2010


At the invitation of Rudolf Dietrich, Director General of Swiss Customs, WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, visited the Swiss Customs administration on 25 March 2010 to discuss the challenges and opportunities for Customs in the current environment. He also took the opportunity to observe Customs functions at Basel Airport (Swiss Customs territory located in French territory) and Rheinfelden Office bordering with Germany.

Mr. Dietrich stressed the challenge of managing an increased volume of trade with fewer resources, compelling Customs to base its operations on a risk management approach, supported by the use of technology.

At Rheinfelden land border most trucks use an e-document to get facilitated clearance where 77% of cargo is released immediately. Cargo blocked by automated selectivity criteria is examined on a computer monitor by Customs officers and usually released within a few minutes while around 1% of blocked cargo is physically examined.

The risk assessment system is managed locally but incorporates risk profile information issued by the central administration. This decentralized approach motivates local Customs officers to be proactive in analyzing risk and in adapting it to meet the requirements of their specific environment. They also share experience and the performance of risk criteria at the regional headquarters level to improve their respective criteria. Heavy traffic volume resulted in the establishment of a highly automated system which allows truck drivers to get clearance and pay road duties without having to leave their seats. The District Customs Directorate I Basle coordinates with neighbouring French and German Customs offices to carry out joint operations using their non-intrusive inspection equipment to avoid possible evasion of fraudulent trucks.

Mr. Dietrich said that while risks at land borders are usually associated with fiscal fraud, risks at the airport are associated more with drugs and high-value counterfeits that are often carried by passengers. At Basel Airport Customs and the Border Guard (part of Customs) share intelligence on goods and passengers to discharge their respective responsibilities. He also underlined the importance of human resource development, having upgraded their internal training and providing exposure to officers at the international level, which will also enhance Customs cooperation.

Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity to thank the Swiss Customs for sending their attachés recently to assist capacity building in Abidjan (Regional Office for Capacity Building - West and Central Africa) and Brussels.