WCO Enforcement Committee Endorses New Initiatives

26 March 2015

The annual WCO Enforcement Committee (EC) concluded on 26 March 2015 with more  than 200 delegates from Customs administrations, international organizations such as Frontex, INTERPOL, UNODC, other United Nations bodies, and the advisory group Global Financial Integrity participating.

In his opening address, WCO Secretary General Mr. Kunio Mikuriya underlined the importance of ensuring secure and safe supply chains through effective and targeted enforcement actions. In particular, he emphasized how vital Coordinated Border Management is in achieving these objectives. His address touched upon the theme of the Enforcement Committee, Customs Enforcement: Completing the Cycle, by highlighting the importance of the ‘consequence phase’ in any enforcement action, and encouraged Members to address enforcement issues from a more holistic perspective.

Ms. Sarah Saldaña, the Director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), commended the WCO and its Members for  their on-going contribution to enforcement through numerous programmes and operations, including  Programme Global Shield, Operation Gryphon, and Operation Cosmo in her keynote address.

The EC endorsed a number of enforcement-related items, and took note of the excellent results achieved by the UNODC-WCO Container Control Programme (CCP); the expansion of the CCP into the air cargo domain through the establishment of the Air Cargo Control Units was also endorsed. Under the Drugs and Precursors Programme, the EC supported the proposal to conduct two global and regional operations in the second half of 2015.

Within the framework of the Environmental Programme, in addition to the on-going initiatives, the EC discussed the illegal trade in pesticides and directed the WCO to consider this topic as one of the potential areas for future operational activities.

In terms of revenue assurance, the EC endorsed the proposal to conduct a second global Customs-centric operation focusing on illicit trade in tobacco products. Additionally, the Committee supported the establishment of the Global Trade Enforcement Network (GTEN) to exchange information and intelligence to combat commercial fraud.

In the area of emerging risks, the EC discussed the dark side of e-commerce and discussed Customs’ role in targeting internet-based networks exploited by criminals including illicit trade and money laundering. The EC also discussed the challenges posed by crypto currencies such as bitcoins as an illicit form of payment.

The WCO conducted a live demonstration of Iris, a new application of open source information for enforcement purposes which was positively received by EC delegates. The Information and Intelligence Center (I2C) concept was also presented and endorsed by the EC. I2C will be established in the near future and will focus its work on the maintenance of the Iris application, preparation of global intelligence bulletins and the annual WCO Illicit Trade Report, support of global operational and communication activities and serve as a point of contact for Customs and other agencies in relation to Customs-enforcement matters. The security domain is attracting increased attention in light of recent developments in the international arena.  In response, the WCO Security Programme will be re-structured to take new initiatives and projects addressing the emerging security risks into account.

Delegates also reaffirmed their commitment in combatting illicit trafficking in cultural goods and recommended the WCO to maintain this topic as a high priority.

The Customs Administration of The Netherlands invited all WCO Members and relevant stakeholders to participate in the 5th WCO Technology & Innovation Forum, which will take place in Rotterdam from 26 to 29 October 2015.