Secretary General participates in the 12th ASEM Customs Directors-General and Commissioners Meeting

17 October 2017

At the invitation of Ms. Colette Hercher, Director-General of German Customs under the Ministry of Finance, and Mr. Uwe Schroeder, Director of the German Central Customs Authority, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya attended the 12th Meeting of Customs Directors-General and Commissioners from Europe and Asian Members of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in Berlin, Germany, on 16 and 17 October 2017.

ASEM is a forum to enhance relations and various forms of cooperation between its partners, and ASEM Customs Directors-General meet once every two years to discuss relevant developments and priorities in Customs’ work.

Opening the meeting, Dr. Michael Meister, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, welcomed more than 140 delegates from 45 ASEM Members to Berlin.  During his speech, he highlighted ASEM’s role in strengthening relations between Europe and Asia across a wide spectrum of activities.  Dr. Meister emphasized the importance of Customs, stressing that the exchange of best practices and the alignment of Customs procedures was of particular significance in the fight against international terrorism.  Noting that globalization and digitalization both presented opportunities for growth, Dr. Meister underlined the need to enhance connectivity between Customs so as to enable the free flow of trade and secure the supply chain.

Secretary General Mikuriya briefed delegates on the latest developments in the WCO’s six priority areas, namely trade facilitation, e-commerce, security, Customs-Tax cooperation, illicit financial flows and performance measurement.  He highlighted the synergy between the activities of ASEM and those of the WCO, and invited ASEM to make its actions and achievements known to the Customs community.  Dr. Mikuriya also welcomed the addition of new areas of work in the ASEM Action Plan for 2018-2019.

Delegates heard reports on the work done by the ASEM Working Group on Customs matters, as well as on the discussions which had taken place during the Customs-Trade Days.  They also held deliberations on several topics touching on the implementation of Authorized Economic Operator schemes, means to enhance Coordinated Border Management, product safety, joint Customs operations, use of Passenger Name Records, implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, best practices for IPR enforcement, and how to ensure increased visibility of ASEM Customs activities.

Based on the discussions, delegates adopted a new Action Plan for the period 2018-2019 consisting of eight action points.  New actions have been added to the Plan in the areas of transit, Customs management of cross border e-commerce transactions, Single Window, automation and integrated risk assessment, and border enforcement related to postal items. 

Secretary General Mikuriya joined with the other delegates in thanking the German hosts for their hospitality and faultless organization of the Meeting.

The 13th ASEM Customs Directors-General and Commissioners Meeting will take place in Vietnam in 2019.