TEGACS work to continue under the SAFE Working Group

09 May 2019

The 13th Session of the WCO’s Technical Expert Group on Air Cargo Security (TEGACS) opened on 29 April 2019 with a record number of participants from among the World Customs Organization (WCO) Members, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Member States, and from the private sector.

The TEGACS was established by the WCO in 2011, with involvement from the ICAO Secretariat and various stakeholders, to enhance air cargo security by upholding cooperation amongst Customs, Aviation Security (AVSEC) authorities and the private sector, and by promoting synergies between their respective instruments, tools and programmes.  TEGACS is a forum for discussing extended elements of air cargo security, such as the technical mechanism for implementing Pre-Loading Advance Cargo Information (PLACI), standardized data, risk mitigation through risk management, alignment of security programmes, capacity building activities, the sharing of information, and better use of technology.

In January 2014, as part of the ICAO-WCO collaborative action plan, the WCO and ICAO established a Joint ICAO-WCO Working Group on Advance Cargo Information (JWGACI).  Its work was divided into two phases: the first phase assessed the need and determined the objectives of the use of PLACI in the civil aviation security context; the second phase focused on the practical and technical ways to implement PLACI, based on the outcomes from Phase I.  

Prior to this TEGACS meeting, the JWGACI met for the sixth time to finalize the Joint Guiding Principles for PLACI, thus marking the successful conclusion to its work under its Terms of Reference.  JWGACI members should be congratulated for their hard work, commitment and excellent collaborative approach.

TEGACS had an opportunity to discuss the draft guidelines for alignment of Customs Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) and AVSEC Regulated Agent/Known Consignor (RA/KC) programmes, intended to leverage synergies and avoid any duplication of compliance regimes.  Mexico and the EU showcased their best practices on aligning these types of programmes.  The EU has already introduced legislation requiring this concept, and Mexico provided a thorough presentation describing the proactive engagement and commitment of the competent authorities to put such an innovative concept into practice. 

Another important activity under development by ICAO and WCO Secretariats, along with their partners from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), is joint regional training workshops on air cargo security and facilitation.  These regional workshops will help bring the concept of coordinated border management and private sector engagement into the security cooperation space.  In addition, a major effort by the WCO, UNODC and ICAO on capacity building and technical assistance activities in relation to the Container Control Programme has led to the successful establishment of several Air Cargo Control Units in many developing countries.  TEGACS participants were updated on these activities from both the WCO and Member perspectives.

During this Session, the group received a number of updates on intersessional developments relating to the SAFE and E-Commerce Working Groups and the ICAO Working Group on Air Cargo Security.  It was also brought up to speed on emerging issues, such as lithium batteries, and compliance with the regulations on the transport of dangerous goods by air. The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss emerging challenges relating to air cargo security and safety, as well as associated initiatives and experiences on the use of Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) for air cargo security, the IATA e-freight project, other security-related projects (e.g. the e-Consignment Security Declaration and e-Air Waybill, Drones and the use of canines to screen air cargo.

Finally, given that the substantive work of TEGACS has been accomplished, the Group largely supported moving this forum into the SAFE WG, which will address any remaining matters. Upon approval by the TEGACS Members, the final report of the Group should be submitted to the June 2020 Policy Commission.