WCO Secretary General calls for cooperation and digitalization during celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the RTC in Hungary

06 December 2021

On 6 December 2021, at the invitation of Mr. Ferenc Vágujhelyi, State Secretary and Commissioner of the National Tax and Customs Administration (NTCA) of Hungary, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, participated virtually in the celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the first WCO Regional Training Centre (RTC), established in Budapest (Hungary) in 2001.

Secretary General Mikuriya began by thanking the NTCA for pioneering the concept of RTCs and expressed his satisfaction at the growing cooperation between the Lt. Gen. Mihály Arnold RTC in Budapest and other WCO regional entities with a view to creating a Customs Knowledge Network for the dissemination of best practices and enhancement of connectivity at borders. He gave an analysis of the current situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and highlighted the unique role of Customs in facilitating the seamless cross-border movement of vaccines and other essential goods. He posited that renewal of Customs systems, consolidation of international cooperation and strengthening of the trade supply chain would help pave the way towards recovery.

Dr. Mikuriya touched on the WCO’s tireless efforts to share best practices through the RTCs and to develop and update trade tools, including the Harmonized System (HS) 2022 and the Framework of Standards on E-Commerce.

Looking at the lessons learnt from the pandemic, Secretary General Mikuriya described the urgent need to apply innovation and technology to underpin the digital transformation of Customs. He explained that digitalization of public services generated a vast amount of data and that Customs administrations should explore ways of fully harnessing the data collected for their reform strategies and sharing it with other government agencies as well as with other national and global partners. He stressed that the WCO Secretariat would keep on assisting Member Customs administrations to become trusted advisers, capable of taking part in evidence-based policy-making decisions. He concluded by announcing that the Secretariat’s work on developing a data strategy was progressing and appealed to Members for their support in uniting the global Customs community around the importance of digitalization.

Representatives from the Ministry of Finance of Hungary, together with the Director-General of the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (DG TAXUD) of the European Commission, also took part in the celebrations.