Customs cooperation stressed on the occasion of the IMF World Bank Annual Meeting in Tokyo

13 October 2012

Japan, 13-17 October 2012


The Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, met the Japanese Minister of Finance, Koriki Jojima, at the Ministry of Finance on 17 October 2012 after his participation in several events on the occasion of the IMF World Bank Annual Meeting in Tokyo. During the visit the Minister expressed his support for the WCO and looked forward to welcoming the WCO Policy Commission in Kyoto in December. Whilst in Tokyo, the Secretary General took the opportunity to highlight the role of Customs among Ministers of Finance and members of the business community.

On 13 October he attended the High-Level Economic Policy Dialogue with the theme "Asia - Latin America: New Engines of Growth for Global Trade?" co-organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Inter-American Development Bank(IDB), and the ADB Institute and Policy Research Institute. At the opening both IDB President Moreno and ADB President Kuroda emphasized the need to address trade-related infrastructure and logistics as well as the dismantling of trade barriers in order to improve interregional trade and investment. Following the panel discussion by several Ministers of Finance and the Central Governor, Secretary General Mikuriya appreciated the initiatives of both Chief Executives, particularly their support for regional integration and connectivity where Customs plays an essential role and suggested that there is scope for further cooperation to promote trade facilitation between the two regions. The panellists agreed and stated that "[As suggested by WCO] the ADB and the IDB should work together on trade facilitation" (China's Assistant Minister of Finance), "Columbia can share its experience with launching the WCO's AEO programme last week" (Peru's Minister of Finance), "The WCO should lead the work on national Single Window and inter-connectivity between information technologies to promote trade facilitation" (Philippines' Secretary of Finance, and echoed by Mexico's Minister of Finance), and "Customs modernization is the key to promoting trade, as Uruguay assumes the regional Vice-Chair" (Uruguay's Governor of the Central Bank). Delegates to the Dialogue concluded by stressing the importance of (1) trade, especially Free Trade Agreements, (2) connectivity, including Customs-to-Customs cooperation, (3) mutual learning and (4) policy dialogue.

On 15 October he delivered a congratulatory speech at the opening of the Asian Representative Office of the African Development Bank in Tokyo. The inauguration was attended by President Kaberuka of the African Development Bank, as well as Ministers and Ambassadors from Africa and Asia. Secretary General Mikuriya underlined the importance of Customs in providing infrastructure for trade and thus promoting investment which would generate economic growth in Africa. He maintained that by strengthening connectivity with its trading partners outside the region, including Asia, has considerable significance for African economies. In this connection, he pledged support for trade supply chain facilitation and security for countries in Africa with the resources, best practice and knowledge of the global Customs community, including Asia where trade has played a vital role in ensuring its recent economic rise. He added that Asia and other regions could also learn much and enhance their ties with Africa as means of contributing to world stability and prosperity.

On 17 October he briefed members of the business community on recent WCO activities, including work on trade facilitation, at Aoyama Gakuin University during an event co-hosted by the WTO Research Forum, a private-public discussion forum on trade matters. Business appreciated the update on recent WCO initiatives and expressed their expectation of further promotion in areas such as harmonization of AEO programmes, classification issues and the simplification of data requirements. In addition, he met the President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Dr. Akihito Tanaka, who welcomed the continuous cooperation with the WCO in the area of trade facilitation, including One Stop Border Post projects in Africa.