WCO Secretary General participates in WTO event on COVID-19 and Vaccine Equity

15 April 2021

At the invitation of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of World Trade Organization (WTO), WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya spoke at the WTO virtual event exploring the role of WTO in the context of “COVID-19 and Vaccine Equity” with its key stakeholders on 14 April 2021.

Participating in the session on vaccine supply chain challenges, Dr. Mikuriya defined three key potential challenges; namely, (1) that vaccines are time and temperature sensitive, (2) they are high-value for which there is high demand coupled with limited supply, and (3) the scale of the distribution is unprecedented.  He proposed to address these challenges by: (1) prioritizing Customs clearance and applying physical inspections in only limited circumstances, (2) ensuring the security of the supply chain, and (3) streamlining and speeding up border processes in order to create capacity and also to enable carriers to quickly redeploy the specialized transportation equipment used.

Secretary General Mikuriya informed participants that these points are included in the WCO Council Resolution adopted in December 2020 and based on the WCO instruments including the Revised Kyoto Convention and the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.  He further illustrated the WCO's collaborative approach by highlighting several joint actions with international organizations and the private sector.

In the area of export and other restrictions, Dr. Mikuriya reiterated the WCO’s position, outlined in the joint statement with the WTO issued last year, calling for a more targeted, proportionate, transparent and non-discriminatory approach as the measures taken to safeguard the health and well-being of citizens during the crisis, should be temporary and rescinded once they are no longer needed.  He also shared the recent WCO discussions on bio-secure borders for passengers to ensure the seamless flows of goods and people.

Dr. Mikuriya underscored Customs’ role to protect the society from the entry into the market of counterfeit, sub-standard or illicit medicines, vaccines, medical supplies and equipment and the need to implement the WCO Cross-Border E-Commerce Framework of Standards to enable Customs to apply risk management on small packages in line with the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

In her concluding remarks Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala appreciated the willingness of Members, international organizations and business to work together to facilitate better vaccine production and manufacturing capacity, procurement and distribution.


  • From left to right: Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director General

    From left to right: Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO Director General

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