WCO launches Security Project for South East Asia and the Pacific Islands

24 March 2017

The World Customs Organization (WCO), in partnership with the Government of Thailand, launched the WCO Security Project during a ceremony held in Bangkok, Thailand on 23 March 2017 with the participation of 17 Customs administrations from the Asia Pacific region.

The WCO Security Project aims at supporting Member administrations in South East Asia and the Pacific Islands to respond to the security challenges posed by the threat of terrorist attacks. This project follows the WCO Punta Cana Resolution in 2015 and the subsequent adoption of the WCO Global Counter Terrorism Strategy. The Government of Japan financially supports the Project with a contribution of over 7.25 million US dollars.

At the ceremony, Secretary General Mikuriya highlighted that the WCO Security Project would greatly contribute to supporting Customs administrations and other relevant stakeholders in the region through the implementation of necessary measures to further secure the supply chain, including passenger control and commodity control on improvised explosive devices, dual goods and firearms as well as terrorist financing. He added that the Customs Community’s ability to counter global terrorism and its impact on international trade will be significantly enhanced with this Project.

On behalf of the Thai Government, Mr. Vera Urairat, Deputy Secretary General of the National Security Council of Thailand, highlighted the significance of enhancing international cooperation on counter-terrorism by sharing information and best practices, as well as through capacity building activities, and outreach to the relevant stakeholders in the private sector.  Concluding, Mr. Urairat expressed his gratitude to the WCO and the Government of Japan for their contributions to the Security Project.

On behalf of the Japanese Government, H.E. Mr. Shiro Sadoshima, Ambassador of Japan to Thailand, welcomed this new WCO Security Project and shared his sense of urgency on the need to strengthen border controls to counter terrorism, following the Declaration of the G7 Summit held in Ise Shima, Japan in 2016. He expressed the hope that the Project wouls successfully enable Customs administrations to enhance their capacities to address terrorist threats and lead to deeper cooperation among WCO Members in the region.

Mr. Kulit Sombatsiri, Director General of the Thai Customs Department, emphasized the fact that Thai Customs acknowledged the significance of ensuring security in the context of global trade. He underscored recently established initiatives in support of the WCO Security Project in Thailand. These initiatives include the enhanced use of intelligence based on pre-arrival information and data analysis, deployments of non-intrusive inspection technology, and the cooperation with the private sector to ensure further transparency, predictability, and integrity of Customs.

A panel discussion featuring high-level speakers from INTERPOL, IATA, and the Counter IED Centre of Excellence as well as delegates from Indonesia and Pakistan Customs focused on the security threats faced by the region and explored the ways that the Project could support Customs administrations in addressing them.

The Security Project is expected to promote and deliver efficient and effective counter-terrorism measures through the promotion of close cooperation among the various stakeholders, including Customs administrations, related law enforcement agencies, and international organizations and businesses.

Secretary General Mikuriya took the opportunity to meet with the Thai Minister of Finance, Mr. Apisak Tantivorawong to express his appreciation for hosting the security event and discuss the recent development of Thai Customs including the establishment of the Customs Alliance to strengthen Customs-business partnership. He also met Vice Minister of Commerce, Mr. Winchai Chaemchaeng to discuss the implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation and the National Committee on Trade Facilitation.

Secretary General Mikuriya also visited the Laem Chabang Port Customs Bureau to observe the latest scanning technology including the railway X-ray system introduced in 2015.