WCO Secretary General addresses EU Customs representatives

12 January 2012

WCO Secretary General addresses EU Customs representatives

Brussels, 11 January 2012


At the invitation of the Danish Presidency of the European Union, the Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, addressed the EU Customs Union Group (CUG) in Brussels on Wednesday, 11 January 2012.

Denmark which has responsibility for guiding the EU for a six months period from 1 January to 30 June 2012 continued the practice of inviting the WCO Secretary General and the Director General of the European Commission's DG Taxud to outline their principal objectives for the coming year at the first meeting of the CUG during Denmark's term at the helm of the EU.

The Secretary General acknowledged the difficult year that had just ended and the uncertainty in both the economic and political arenas, and accordingly emphasized the importance of supply chain security and the need for pre-arrival information.

The adoption by the WCO Policy Commission of a Resolution on Air Cargo Security at its meeting in Abuja, Nigeria in December 2011 was an indication of the commitment of the Secretariat and Members of the WCO to progress this issue.

Similarly, the raised profile of Programme Global Shield and the funding made available to enhance the Programme by the United States would have an impact on the control of explosives and raw material used in the manufacture of illegal explosives.

The challenge remained of balancing controls with trade facilitation. The importance of international trade to economic recovery was well established. The WCO had developed an extensive range of tools to support its Members to achieve this goal. The Revised Kyoto Convention was now supplemented by Standards, Guidelines and Compendia prepared for this purpose.

The collection of exchequer receipts was even more important in difficult economic conditions. The WCO Revenue Package with its emphasis on fair implementation of collection mechanisms was an important development for many Members of the WCO. The introduction of the 2012 version of the Harmonized System, and guidelines on advanced rulings, valuation and origin provided a balanced package for WCO Members to implement.

The need for cooperation and information exchange was clear. The report on Globally Networked Customs and the feasibility study being prepared for the WCO Council in June 2012 will provide a roadmap for the future development of bilateral and regional exchange of information for both commercial and enforcement activities.

The WCO had to remain agile and responsive to emerging threats. Solutions had been put forward for some recent difficult developments, including revenue collection which was addressed by the Revenue Package and trends in smuggling and the latest developments in the interdiction of drugs which would be addressed at a Drugs Summit later in January. Operational activity to counter drug smuggling would continue to be organized using the WCO CEN system.

The focus on health and safety issues would continue as a main objective of the WCO, and in this regard the implementation of IPR initiatives, including the use of IPM (WCO anti-counterfeiting tool) and the organization of operations, reflecting the demands of Members would be a feature of 2012.

Safety was paramount and emerging risks would continue to draw a quick and decisive response with the continuous updating of the provisions of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards. Threats to the environment would also be a focus with hazardous waste, CITES and the illegal timber trade coming to the fore on the WCO agenda.

Finally, the Secretary General emphasized the continuing need for capacity building. He fully expected that the 3rd Meeting of the WCO Capacity Building Committee in February 2012 would deliver much sought after material such as an Orientation Package for Policy Makers and performance measurement tools, as well as management leadership material.

The Secretary General urged WCO Members to assist those Members that had experienced great changes during 2011 and assist emerging new Customs administrations to build infrastructure.

The WCO needed adequate funding to carry out its mandate, and even though its Members were experiencing hard economic times he thought that a modest increase in General Operating Expenses should be possible but perhaps a smaller increase in Members' contributions might be prudent.

The Secretary General concluded by wishing the Danish Presidency every success and in particular he wished Ms. Marie Faerch, Chairperson of the CUG, well in her demanding role.