Successful conclusion to the 2016 Council Sessions

16 July 2016

The 127th/128th Annual Sessions of the World Customs Organization’s Council – the Organization’s highest decision-making body – were held in Brussels from 14 to 16 July 2016 under the direction and guidance of the Chairperson, Mr. Zouhair Chorfi, Director General of the Moroccan Customs Administration, and with the participation of the Directors General of Customs representing the 180 Members of the WCO.

Members of the Council recognized the critical role played by information and communication technology, research, technical assistance, capacity building and training, intelligence and information sharing and referred to the need for coordinated international cooperation and effective tools on trade management and enforcement in order to enhance risk management, guarantee better coordinated border management, and extend connectivity. Further topics of discussion included e-commerce, security and counter-terrorism, Customs-Police cooperation, Customs-Tax cooperation, and the Revenue Package Phase III Action Plan.

Members of the Council had the opportunity to listen to several keynote addresses, including speeches by Mr. Jürgen Stock, Secretary General, INTERPOL; Ms. Molly Fannon, Director, Office of International Relations, Smithsonian Institution; Mr. Jim DuBois, Corporate Vice-President and Chief Information Officer, Microsoft Corporation; and Mr. Henri Barthel, Vice-President System Integrity and Global Partnerships, GS1 Global Office.

The Council adopted a Resolution on the Role of Customs in Preventing Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Objects which, among other things, calls on Customs authorities to enhance efforts and continue to raise awareness, through special events and public campaigns, of the problem of illicit trafficking of cultural objects and its impact on the common heritage of humanity.

In this regard, the WCO and the Smithsonian Institution signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the aim of promoting cooperation between the two organizations.

The WCO also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation concerning the establishment of a new Regional Centre of Best Practices that will focus on promoting activities to develop and improve progressive Customs technologies.

The WCO also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine concerning the establishment of a Regional Dog Training Centre in Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic deposited its instrument of accession to the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention), becoming the 104th Contracting Party.

The European Union and China welcomed new Members to the EU-China Smart and Secure Trade Lanes project, which is implemented by participating Member Customs administrations. Its aim is to foster Customs-to-Customs cooperation which is the first pillar of the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards.

The Customs Administration of Bahrain won the annual WCO Photo Competition with a photo illustrating the theme of the year, Digital Customs.

The 2016 Sessions included the election of Mr. R. Davydov, Deputy Head of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation as Chairperson of the Council.

WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya congratulated Mr. Davydov on his election as Chairperson of the Council. 

Secretary General Mikuriya recognized the outstanding contributions made by the outgoing Council Chairperson, Mr. Zouhair Chorfi, during his successful tenure which has greatly contributed to the success of the Organization.

 Highlights of the 2016 Council Sessions will appear in the next issue of the WCO News magazine.