WCO promotes the role of Customs in Trade Facilitation at WTO Public Forum in Geneva

07 October 2014

On 1-3 October, the WCO participated in the WTO Public Forum 2014 which was held at the WTO headquarters in Geneva. The annual WTO Public Forum, previously known as the Public Symposium, was first held in 2001. It provides a platform for participants to discuss the latest developments in world trade and to propose ways of enhancing the multilateral trading system. This year’s theme of the Forum focused on how trade connects people's daily lives and how trade improves the lives of citizens around the globe related to aspects such as job creation, consumer protection and overall development.

The Forum benefitted from the presence of many high-level speakers and participants. In his address to the Forum, the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed that "international trade is an essential component of an integrated effort to end poverty, ensure food security and promote economic growth". In his speech as host of the Forum, the WTO Director General Roberto Azevêdo made the case for full implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement and accompanying capacity building assistance.

The WCO participated in the Forum by setting up a promotion booth and arranging for many bilateral meetings to promote its activities in supporting Members in the area of Trade Facilitation – including by using WCO instruments and tools and in coordination with our partners from other international organizations, the private sector and academia. In line with the theme of the Forum, presentations and information material highlighted related Customs projects that are currently being implemented around the world and show concrete results e.g. in terms of benefits for private companies, including small and medium-seized entities, and even addressing the so-called informal sector. Diplomats from Geneva-based representations, WTO negotiators, and participants from public and private institutions visited the WCO booth which received a lot of attention.

The WTO Deputy Director General Yi Xiaozhun visited the WCO promotion booth, too, and again highlighted the WCO’s active contribution to the WTO trade facilitation agenda by providing its expertise in WTO needs assessment missions and its ongoing Capacity Building support for developing countries. He also reiterated the importance of continued close cooperation between the two Organizations.