Successful conclusion to the 2015 Council Sessions

13 June 2015

The 125th/126th Annual Sessions of the World Customs Organization’s Council – the Organization’s highest decision-making body – took place in Brussels from 11 to 13 June under the guidance and direction of Chairperson Zouhair Chorfi, the Director General of the Moroccan Customs Administration, and with the participation of Directors Generals of Customs representing the 180 Members of the WCO.

The Chairperson raised four specific issues which were to guide the discussions, namely; digital Customs, performance measurement, strategic planning, and Coordinated Border Management (CBM), the WCO’s theme for 2015. Members welcomed the revised Revenue Package, new additions to the security programme such as the I2C, and a set of 20 indicators to guide discussions on performance measurement.

Members of the Council recognized the critical role played by research, technical assistance, capacity building and training, the sharing of intelligence and information, as well as the need for coordinated international cooperation and effective trade management and enforcement tools leading to enhanced risk management, better coordinated border management, and more extensive connectivity with renewed emphasis on CBM. Further topics of discussion included the impact of e-commerce, Customs and private sector engagement, and security including API/PNR data.

The Council celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade by adopting a third pillar, Customs to Other Government Agencies and Inter-Government Agencies, as well as the incorporation of standards for “Pre-loading Advance Cargo Information” with respect to air cargo to facilitate a first layer of security risk analysis in collaboration with civil aviation authorities.

There were further accessions to key WCO Conventions, including Thailand and Sierra Leone which deposited their instruments of accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention), making them the 100th and 101st Contracting Parties to this Convention.  Sierra Leone and Djibouti also deposited their instruments of accession to the International Convention on the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System), bringing the number of Contracting Parties to this Convention to 153.

The Council welcomed Palestine, the WCO’s newest and 180th Member, which attended the Council for the first time.

The WCO and Jordan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the creation of a Regional Training Centre in Amman.  A Cooperation Agreement was also signed between the WCO and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to strengthen cooperation between the two Organizations and to boost collaboration between Customs and veterinary services on the ground around the world.

In the course of the Sessions, several Members announced an increase in their voluntary contributions in support of the activities of the Organization.  This commitment was warmly welcomed by the Secretary General and by the membership as a whole.

The Customs Administration of Sudan won the annual WCO Photo Competition with its winning photo showing the crossing of trucks at the border between Sudan and Egypt.

Several elections took place during the Sessions with the following results:

  • Mr. Zouhair Chorfi of Morocco was re-elected as Chairperson of the Council.
  • Ms. Ana Hinojosa of the United States was elected as Director of Compliance and Facilitation.
  • Mr. Ernani Checcucci of Brazil was elected as Director of Capacity Building.
  • Mr. Ping Liu of China was elected as Director for Tariff and Trade Affairs.

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya congratulated Mr. Chorfi on his re-election as Chairperson of the Council and welcomed the newly-elected WCO Directors. 

Highlights of the 2015 Council Sessions will appear in the next issue of the WCO News magazine.