WCO Council reiterates support for the Secretariat in leading the Customs community through the global health crisis

26 June 2020

Heads of Delegation of some 130 World Customs Organization (WCO) Member Customs administrations took part in the virtual meeting of the 135th/136th Sessions of the WCO Council held on 25 June 2020. As a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sessions followed a document-based approach with the online consultations focusing on discussions about urgent matters pertaining to the proposed corrigendum amendments to the 2022 version of the Harmonized System and the recommendations made by the 103rd Session of the WCO Finance Committee.

Under the able chairmanship of Mr. A. Al Khalifa, Vice-Chair for the North of Africa, Near and Middle East region and President of Customs Affairs in Bahrain, the WCO Council, the Organization’s supreme decision-making body, took stock of the work carried out by the WCO during the COVID-19 pandemic and the special measures taken to ensure business continuity and to provide online technical assistance and virtual capacity building activities to Members.

The Council was also informed about the launch of a dedicated COVID-19 webpage to provide best practices to Members and stakeholders, the strengthening of multilateral cooperation with other international organizations and the private sector, and the development of guidelines for emergency situations and business continuity.

The Council went on to approve the Finance Committee’s budgetary recommendations, thus enabling the Secretariat to pursue its important role of supporting the global Customs community, particularly during this crisis situation.

The Council adopted the corrigendum amendments to the 2022 version of the Harmonized System following the Council Recommendation of 28 June 2019 concerning the amendment of the Harmonized System Nomenclature, as well as the consequential Article 16 Council Recommendation concerning the amendment of the Harmonized System Nomenclature.

“This year’s annual Council sessions were characterized by meaningful discussions demonstrating that borders may divide but Customs, through technology, connects and unites,” said Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General. “Indeed, Customs has shown its resilience, relevance and importance during this crisis situation, by strengthening and securing the global supply chain. We must come together to face the challenges ahead, and the decisions taken by the Council will further enhance Customs’ leadership role in border management,” he added.

The next Council sessions are scheduled to take place, when in-person meetings resume, in December 2020 at WCO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.