WCO Secretary General addresses trade ministers and business leaders from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

07 June 2021

On 4 June 2021, the Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, spoke at the Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) – APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) Dialogue and highlighted the efforts of the WCO and its Members in facilitating trade and supporting the recovery from the crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mikuriya emphasized the role of Customs in ensuring the seamless distribution of the genuine COVID-19 vaccines, as well as protecting society from illicit trade in vaccines, medicines and medical supplies, and updated the meeting on the recent WCO tools and initiatives in that regard. He further highlighted the importance of collaboration with the relevant stakeholders, and of digitalization and use of technology for efficient border processes.

Following the dialogue with business leaders and as an outcome of their annual meeting, on 5 June the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade issued a joint statement outlining initiatives in three key areas that APEC will undertake in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to chart a path to economic recovery. With regard to the first area, Using trade as a tool to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the joint statement and its annexes highlight the work of the WCO and stress the importance of enhanced implementation of the guidelines for APEC Customs authorities to facilitate the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and related goods.

The WCO Secretary General welcomed the 2021 Joint Statement of the APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade. “The Best Practice Guidelines for APEC Customs Administrations to Facilitate the Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines and Related Goods are consistent with the WCO guidance on the role of Customs in facilitating and securing the cross-border movement of situationally critical medicines and vaccines”, said Dr. Mikuriya. He added that “the WCO stands ready to continue assisting its Members around the globe in ensuring the seamless movement of these essential goods across borders through the sharing of information and guidance”.