WCO Knowledge Academy for Customs and Trade: Empowering the Next Generation

30 June 2023

From 26 to 28 June 2023, the World Customs Organization (WCO) hosted the WCO Knowledge Academy for Customs and Trade at its Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. This summer Academy serves as a catalyst for professional knowledge enhancement, bringing together Customs officers, industry leaders, and academic experts, all united by their passion for advancing Customs and trade practices.

Since its inception in 2011 under the visionary leadership of Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General, the Knowledge Academy has flourished and evolved into a pivotal platform for professional development. Marking its 13th edition, the Academy has enabled participants to stay ahead of emerging trends and challenges in the realm of Customs and Trade.

The WCO Knowledge Academy for Customs and Trade fosters collaboration and facilitates knowledge exchange. With some 120 participants attending in person, it encourages the creation of links between Customs officers and representatives of the private sector and academia, with the diversity of participants’ backgrounds and experiences enriching the discussions.

Setting the stage for an immersive and dynamic learning experience, this year's Academy began with a session titled "Leadership Talks", which provided  students from Customs Training Schools in Belgium and Germany with an opportunity to engage directly with the Secretary General of the WCO. Through these stimulating dialogues, participants gained valuable insights into the strategic vision and transformative leadership that underpin the WCO's mission and objectives.

In the subsequent segments of the Leadership Talks, the Academy welcomed Deputy Directors from various WCO directorates, including Gael Grooby, Deputy Director of Tariff and Trade Affairs; Brendan O'Neil, Deputy Director of the Facilitation Sub-Directorate; Stefan Kirsh, Deputy Director for Compliance and Enforcement; and Tafili Ebenezer, Deputy Director for Capacity Building. These seasoned experts engaged with participants providing invaluable perspectives on the critical functions and collaborative efforts within the WCO.

Throughout the Academy, a comprehensive curriculum encompassed diverse topics meticulously tailored to meet the specific needs and interests of the participants. The first day of the agenda focused on crucial discussions surrounding the WCO Data Strategy, WCO Data Model, and the organization's ongoing commitment to gender equality and diversity. These enlightening sessions shed light on the significance of data management, harmonization, and inclusivity in the ever-evolving Customs and trade environment.

Dedicated primarily to the Harmonized System (HS), the second day of the Academy delivered a deep dive into this fundamental framework that underpins international trade. Through a series of immersive sessions, participants gained comprehensive insights into the intricacies of HS classification providing them with practical knowledge that they can immediately apply in their daily Customs operations.

On the third and last day, attendees explored HS classifications through concrete examples. Additionally, participants delved into the essential elements of Rules of Origin and Valuation, gaining a profound understanding of these vital components of Customs procedures.

Recognizing the importance of inclusion and accessibility, all training sessions were interpreted in both French and English, giving all participants an equal opportunity to engage fully with the different sessions and derive maximum benefit from the wealth of knowledge shared.

The WCO Knowledge Academy for Customs and Trade illustrates the unwavering commitment of the WCO to empower Customs and the private sector, and promote excellence within the global Customs and Trade community. Through its innovative sessions, interactive discussions, and comprehensive programme, the Academy provided this year again participants with the skills and insights they need to navigate the complex Customs landscape.