WCO and WTO agree to continue their successful collaboration at the 6th Global Review of Aid for Trade

14 July 2017

In the margins of the 6th Global Review of Aid for Trade (11 to 13 July 2017, World Trade Organization (WTO), Geneva), the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, met with the Director-General of the WTO, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo, to discuss topics of mutual interest in the specific context of implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Dr. Mikuriya started by congratulating Mr. Azevêdo on the entry into force of the TFA and informed him that a Communiqué had been issued following last week’s WCO Council Sessions.  The Communiqué places particular emphasis on the entry into force of the TFA and the importance of National Committees on Trade Facilitation (NCTFs) for cooperation and coordination among all relevant stakeholders.  It also urges other border agencies to inform NCTFs of their readiness to implement the TFA provisions and identify requirements, as this will enable Members to finalize their notifications to the WTO and will expedite the provision of technical assistance and capacity building as a result (see Communiqué).  NCTFs will play an important role in implementing Coordinated Border Management, including Single Window projects, and identifying bottlenecks using the Time Release Study.

Director-General Azevêdo welcomed the WCO’s offer to support the newly-established WTO Trade Facilitation Committee and expressed his hope for close cooperation in this respect.

Dr. Mikuriya explained that the WCO is well positioned to support TFA implementation by sharing Members’ practices as a first step, based on which it can develop guidelines and standards.  One such area is transit, for which Guidelines were launched earlier this week at the WCO Global Conference on Transit (see highlights).  Another such area will be special Customs regimes and zones, which the WCO is working on as part of the Economic Competitiveness Package Action Plan.

The topic of E-Commerce was also discussed, together with the way forward for future collaboration between the two Organizations.  Dr. Mikuriya informed the WTO about the work being carried out by the WCO in conjunction with new e-commerce supply chain actors, under the umbrella of the Working Group on E-Commerce.  The objective of this work is to develop practical operational solutions for the cross-border movement of physical goods intended for consumers after online initiation.  The work will allow WCO Members to address the challenges posed by the tremendous growth in e-commerce, including revenue leakage, safety, security and other risks.  

Director-General Azevêdo stressed that Customs plays an important role in developing an enabling environment for further growth of E-Commerce, referring to consumer protection as one of the key issues.  He also welcomed the WCO’s practical expertise in E-Commerce, which could make an important contribution to the high-level discussions taking place at the WTO.

Finally, the heads of the two Organizations agreed that collaboration could be enhanced in many of the areas currently being discussed by the international trading community.