WCO holds webinars to improve Customs’ awareness of COVID-19 medicines

20 December 2021

On 16 and 17 December 2021, the World Customs Organization (WCO) successfully held its 7th series of webinars aimed at improving Customs administrations’ awareness of counterfeit COVID-19-related goods.

This latest series of webinars was designed to provide Customs with knowledge of the essential characteristics and specifications of Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) COVID-19 medicines. The knowledge gained will ensure that Customs administrations are better equipped to identify trafficking in genuine and counterfeit COVID-19 medicines.

This series of webinars, conducted in five languages, brought together some 170 Customs officials from 42 countries in the WCO’s six regions: Americas and the Caribbean; Asia/Pacific; Europe; East and Southern Africa; North of Africa, Near and Middle East; and West and Central Africa.

During the opening ceremony, the WCO Secretariat highlighted the fact that Customs constituted the first line of defence at Members' borders by seizing counterfeit goods and thus protecting citizens’ health and safety. Customs also helped facilitate the trade in genuine medicines and, to that end, cooperation with right holders was essential.

Ms. Karen Bresard, Executive Director, Regional Security - EMEA - at MSD, said that MSD would enhance cooperation with Customs by providing Customs officers with information on distribution channels for new medicines.

Mr. Hamaguchi, Director for International Technical Cooperation of the Customs and Tariff Bureau - Ministry of Finance of Japan, indicated that Japan Customs would contribute financial and human resources in support of the WCO’s COVID-19-related initiatives.

The participants asked a lot of questions during each of the webinars and actively exchanged views in order to gain an understanding of the new medicines presented by MSD.