The World Customs Organization Releases the Illicit Trade Report 2022

22 June 2023

The World Customs Organization (WCO) Secretariat has released the Illicit Trade Report (ITR) for 2022. This flagship publication focuses on enforcement matters and provides a comprehensive overview of cross-border illicit trade, shedding light on the threats it poses to citizens, consumers, and economies. Moreover, it showcases the commendable efforts of the Customs community to combat illicit trade and protect societies.

The ITR provides a meticulous analysis of illicit trade dynamics by examining seizure data and case studies reported by various Customs administrations. It delves into seven key topics, including drugs, environment, cultural heritage, money laundering and terrorist financing, intellectual property rights, health and safety, and revenue.

The analysis primarily relies on data collected from the WCO Customs Enforcement Network (CEN), a global database of Customs seizures and offences. The CEN serves as an invaluable resource, empowering WCO Members to access information on illicit trafficking of various commodities, thereby enhancing their risk targeting capacities.

To further enrich the report, the 2022 Report incorporates an expanded range of data and information sources. These sources include reliable media outlets, reports published by Customs administrations and international organizations, as well as a survey conducted by the WCO Secretariat to gather additional data from Customs administrations and WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs). A dedicated section of the Report titled "Customs Enforcement Scan" presents useful information from open sources and offers comparisons between data from these sources and proprietary data analysis based on the CEN.

Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, emphasized the significance of conducting comprehensive data analysis in strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs law enforcement endeavours. He said : "The WCO Illicit Trade Report stands at the forefront of data gathering and analysis. Leveraging our expertise and available technology, we provide comprehensive analysis substantiated by insights derived from publicly available sources and presented through advanced data visualizations".

Dr. Mikuriya also highlighted the need to adapt to evolving tactics employed by criminal organizations in the complex global trade environment. "By understanding emerging trends and harnessing the power of information from open sources we can enhance our efforts to combat illicit trade and safeguard the integrity of international commerce" said Dr. Mikuriya.

The release of the 2022 ITR demonstrates the WCO's commitment to improving data quality and analysis. Customs administrations have diligently contributed to reporting quality data in the CEN throughout 2022. The production of the Report has been made possible thanks to the participation and support of WCO Members, partners, and stakeholders. Their valuable contributions, including data sharing and case studies as well as survey responses, have once again contributed to the Customs community’s enhanced understanding of illicit trade.

The 2022 Illicit Trade Report is currently available in English, with the French version set to be released shortly.