WCO Council charts a clear path forward for the Customs community

29 June 2013
Brussels, 29 June 2013 

Press Release 

Heads of Customs administrations representing the 179 Members of the World Customs Organization (WCO) met in Brussels, Belgium from 27 to 29 June 2013 for the 121st/122nd Sessions of the WCO Council, under the expert direction of Josephine Feehily, the Chair of the Council and Chairman of the Irish Customs and tax administration.

This year’s discussions focused on a number of key issues, including organizational development, economic competitiveness, the importance of performance indicators, regional integration, the Globally Networked Customs concept and air cargo security, as well as supply chain transparency, quality data exchange and the strengthening of international engagement.

Members of the Council also recognized the critical role played by capacity building, research, knowledge promotion and the sharing of intelligence and information, as well as the need for well-coordinated international cooperation and effective trade management and enforcement tools, leading to enhanced risk management and better coordinated border management.

The importance and relevance of the WCO's Harmonized System and its international goods nomenclature, as well as the Organization's work in relation to valuation, origin of goods and revenue security, was acknowledged by delegates, who underscored the value of these core Customs activities and the instrumental role they play in managing global trade.

Additionally, delegates to the Council sessions adopted two new packages, namely the Compliance and Enforcement Package and the Organizational Development Package, which complement two previously adopted packages covering revenue and economic competitiveness respectively.

The Council also celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures, now known as the Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC), given the importance of trade facilitation which is at the core of the global economic policy debate and a critical factor for economic and social development.

Seen as a blueprint for modern Customs procedures, the concepts contained in the RKC have been largely taken up by trade facilitation negotiators at the World Trade Organization, who recognize that once negotiations are concluded, the WCO will have a crucial role to play in supporting implementation and providing technical and capacity building assistance.

Keynote speakers at the annual sessions included Algirdas Šemeta, the European Union Commissioner responsible for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-fraud, and Bishar Abdirahman Hussein, the Director General of the Universal Postal Union’s International Bureau in Bern, Switzerland.

The European Union Commissioner underscored the importance of efficient and effective Customs for economic growth and competitiveness, as well as the need to improve the quality and availability of data for risk analysis purposes through closer engagement with economic operators, and to continue working on potential standards for automatic exchanges of information.

The Director General of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) spoke about the relationship between the UPU and the WCO, the close collaboration between Customs and postal services, the importance of information exchange and sharing, and the fact that as e-commerce is growing, more and more parcels are being sent by the post, which is a critical service for SMEs.

Delegates observed the WCO Secretary General sign Memoranda of Understanding with the Commission of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations and with the Mauritius Revenue Authority to establish a Customs Regional Training Centre.

The Council also witnessed Côte d’Ivoire, Cape Verde and Yemen deposit their instruments of accession to the RKC, bringing the number of Contracting Parties to this important WCO instrument to 89, with the hope that more WCO Members will accede to the RKC in the coming months.

Angola was awarded the 2013 WCO Yolanda Benitez Trophy for its commitment to combating counterfeiting and piracy, which is reflected in the increased number of seizures made by Customs, while Thailand won the annual WCO Photo Competition.

Election highs of the 2013 sessions included the re-election of Josephine Feehily, as Chairperson of the Council, and the re-election of Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the incumbent Secretary General of the WCO, for a further five-year term at the helm of the Organization.

Following Ms. Feehily’s re-election, the Secretary General said, “I am pleased that the WCO will continue to benefit from Josephine’s experience, results-oriented approach and ability to lead strategic change, which is a valuable asset to the Members and Secretariat of the WCO."

Commenting on the outcomes of the annual sessions, Dr. Mikuriya said, “The Members of the WCO have charted a clear path forward for the Organization, which the Secretariat would heed by aligning its activities to meet their key objectives, in order to deliver positive results.”

All the highlights of the 2013 Council sessions will appear in the next issue of the WCO News magazine.

Council 2013 in pictures