WCO participates in OECD Task Force Meeting on Countering Illicit Trade

20 March 2023

On 16 and 17 March 2023, Mr. Pranab Kumar Das, WCO Director for Compliance and Facilitation, and two officials from the WCO Secretariat participated in the 11th Plenary Meeting of the Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TF-CIT), convened in Paris, France by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

This meeting of the TF-CIT, chaired by Mr. Christopher Martin, Senior Counsellor, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, United Kingdom, was the first to be held in person since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Titled “Countering illicit trade: levelling the playing field for a resilient economy”, the meeting focused on discussing the past decade of TF-CIT activities as well as looking at the latest evidence on illicit trade and at state-of-the-art standards to combat the risks identified.

The WCO actively contributed to various sessions of the TF-CIT meeting, particularly those on the Free Trade Zones (FTZ) Certification Scheme, Free Trade Zones, E-commerce challenges in illicit trade, and Working with key stakeholders.

Despite a recent historic decline in trade in goods and in industrial production, the past two years have seen an increase in illicit trade. In order to ensure that Customs is properly equipped to fulfill its missions, the WCO has been working closely with its Members to develop a range of instruments, tools and guidance materials. Furthermore, through operational activities, Customs administrations are managing to strike a balance between their facilitation and compliance roles.

To this end, Director Das highlighted that the WCO has been partnering with international stakeholders involved in a variety of issues ranging from trade facilitation and security to law enforcement and the fight against illicit trade. Cooperation between all stakeholders remains a key element in dismantling criminal networks. He concluded by emphasizing the need to consider further collaboration between the WCO and the OECD on the development of a toolkit and on the implementation of the new FTZ Certification Scheme.