WCO Welcomes APEC Ministerial Statement

17 November 2015

On 17 November, after their Ministerial Meeting in Manila, the Philippines, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers, issued a Joint Ministerial Statement.

This Joint Statement details new actions for advancing an Asia-Pacific economic growth agenda. It emphasizes Customs procedures as one of the main drivers for enhancing regional economic integration. The Joint Statement mentions a number of Customs-related initiatives such as Natural Disaster Relief, Single Window, Advanced Risk Management, use of Passenger Name Record data, Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) programmes, cross border e-commerce and the use of ICT. In particular, APEC Ministers indicated that they would look forward to the completion of APEC Best Practices on AEO in 2016, which would help develop trade facilitation frameworks that allow efficient transport of legitimate cargo processing, in line with World Customs Organization (WCO) instruments, tools and standards.

The Joint Statement also highlights the importance of counter-terrorism to build sustainable and resilient communities. Ministers support economies’ efforts to implement the Advance Passenger Information and Passenger Name Record (API/PNR) programs to secure and facilitate legitimate travel within the region.

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya welcomed the Joint Statement and the development of APEC projects. The WCO will continue to contribute to APEC actions by providing expertise at relevant APEC Committees and sending experts to APEC projects on a regular basis. The WCO Mercator Programme will support APEC economies in their efforts on Customs trade facilitation and secure travel and trade. He appreciated that the Joint Statement also linked up with the concept of Digital Customs, which is the key theme of the international Customs community in 2016, and the Ministers had instructed officials to look into the development of e-port and single window systems, taking into consideration ICT technology accessibility.

Furthermore, Mr. Mikuriya reaffirmed that the WCO and its Members had pledged to remain vigilant and to continue to take an active security role. Customs plays a vital role in security by protecting borders, securing supply chains, curbing illegal trade, strengthening passenger controls and identifying terrorist financing that can profit from illegal activities. The WCO would therefore also continue to actively support and provide expertise to APEC projects on counter-terrorism.