WCO PICARD research conference successfully concludes in Malatya, Turkey

11 October 2018

The 13th annual WCO PICARD Conference, which ran from 9 to 11 October 2018 in Malatya, Turkey, ended on a high note after three days of thought-provoking presentations by invited speakers, followed by dynamic discussions among the participants.

These annual WCO research conferences have positively impacted the work of Customs since 2006, providing a platform for informed dialogue between Customs administrations, universities, research institutes and the private sector on topics relevant to Customs and international trade.

Hosted by the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Turkey, the 2018 Conference kicked off with opening remarks by Mr. Jaeho Jung, the Korea Customs Service’s Director of Multilateral Cooperation and by Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, the WCO Secretary General, as well as by Mr. Bülent Tüfenkci, Former Minister of Customs and Trade/current Member of Parliament, and Mr. Fatih Metin, Deputy Minister of Trade, Turkey.

Mr. Ali Kaban, Governor of Malatya’s Province, Mr. Haci Ugur Polat, Mayor of Metropolitan Malatya, and Mr. Selahattin Gurkan, Mayor of Battalgazi were also present at the opening ceremony. Secretary General Mikuriya held bilateral meetings with them as well as with Ms. Havva Eksilmez, Regional Director of Customs and Trade of Firat, the day before.

The Conference was organized around more than 50 presentations by high-level speakers from academia, governmental and private entities, and think-tanks, which were selected from over 100 submissions following a Call for Papers, issued in February this year.

This key WCO event welcomed more than 200 participants from around 65 countries, representing Customs administrations, the academic and research communities, international and regional organizations, and the private sector.

In his welcoming remarks, the Former Minister of Customs and Trade Tüfenkci underlined the importance of this WCO event for the Turkish government and Customs as a way to nurture new ideas that would support Customs in its efforts to adequately address current challenges at borders, in particular the threat posed by terrorism, illicit trade, and organized crime.

In his address, Secretary General Mikuriya expressed his gratitude to Mr. Fatih Metin, the Deputy Minister of Trade and his team for hosting the PICARD Conference, extended a warm welcome to the participants, and thanked the Korea Customs Service for supporting the participation of some of the speakers.

With this year’s Conference focusing on trade facilitation, cross-border e-commerce, connectivity at the borders, data analytics, security, and Customs and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Dr. Mikuriya noted that “with research and discussions on these topics Customs will better understand the challenges they face, enabling them to chart a way forward with greater confidence.”

Furthermore, the WCO Secretary General stated that the annual WCO event “fosters an interdisciplinary approach to research and policy analysis on Customs matters, international trade, and border management, nourishing discussions among the participants at the event itself, and impacting on decision making processes once back in their institutions.”

A keynote address entitled “Under the Radar: Porous Borders, Grey Zones and Cross-Border Practices” was delivered by Alena Ledeneva from the University College London, who talked about the Global Informality Project, an initiative that questions the links between corruption, poverty and development, identity, and morality, and highlighted the potential use of informal practices, while depicting their ambivalence and complexity in the workings of societies, by policy makers for global governance.

In closing, participants joined the WCO in expressing their gratitude to Turkey Customs for its outstanding hospitality and efforts in making the 13th PICARD Conference a great success, while conveying their satisfaction with the Conference’s outcomes, which provided ample food for thought and new networking opportunities.

As part of its broader outreach strategy to bridge the divide between academia and Customs, the WCO streamed many of the Conference’s sessions live via its YouTube channel, the videos of which are now available to the public, including all 182 Members of the WCO.

Information on the next PICARD Conference will be made available in due course via the WCO’s website (www.wcoomd.org).