17th Meeting of the SAFE Working Group makes significant progress on the global security and facilitation agenda

09 March 2017

The 17th meeting of the SAFE Working Group (SWG) held from 1 to 3 March 2017 brought together over 125 delegates from Customs administrations, the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG), international organizations, and other industry stakeholders to discuss supply chain security and facilitation issues. The SWG was preceded by the SAFE Customs Members-only and the PSCG Meetings.

In her opening remarks, the WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation Mrs. Ana B. Hinojosa welcomed the delegates and stressed the need for a more collaborative approach to addressing the current and emerging security challenges, whilst improving the efficiency of the international supply chain thus reducing costs to governments and businesses.

The SAFE Working Group (SWG) has been one of the most successful forums of Customs-Business partnerships in terms of co-creation of standards, policies, and programmes at the international level. Notable among them are the SAFE Framework of Standards (SAFE FoS) and the AEO Programme including associated tools and guidance.

Considering the global security concerns and the renewed focus on trade facilitation, the 17th SWG meeting discussed a number of issues concerning the three Pillars of the SAFE FoS. Among other things, the SWG advanced the 2018 SAFE Review process with the finalization of some additional proposals, whilst providing guidance on other proposals which were still under further examination. 

Furthermore, to support Members with the implementation of different pillars of the SAFE FoS, the SWG examined several tools/documents, for example AEO Validator’s Guide and associated Training Modules Guide, Mutual Recognition Arrangement/Agreement (MRA) Strategy Guide, Advance Cargo Information Implementation Guidance, and global trader identification number (TIN) and provided suggestions/inputs and guidance on the further work to enrich them.

Given the WCO theme of the year ‘Data Analysis for Effective Border Management’, potential opportunities for the use of data analytics in enhancing security and facilitation of the international supply chain were discussed with a view to developing a resource guidance by leveraging existing expertise and initiatives of Customs administrations and the private sector.

Going a step further, the SWG, in a high-panel discussion involving Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Road Transport Union (IRU), and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), identified areas of mutual cooperation including exploitation of synergies between and among these international organizations to strengthen supply chain security.

Additionally, the SWG discussed and provided policy directions for future work on some key issues such as performance measurement relating to the implementation of the SAFE FoS, unified file format for non-intrusive inspection equipment, implementation and review of the integrated supply chain management (ISCM) Guidelines, review of the AEO Compendium templates, and the similarities and differences between the SAFE FoS AEO programme and the Authorized Operator scheme of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.  These and other related issues will be followed up intersessionally and at the next SWG meeting in September/October 2017.