The WCO contributed the first Global Supply Chain Forum and third Global Forum on National Trade Facilitation Committees

28 May 2024

The First Global Supply Chain Forum was held from 21 to 24 May 2024, in Bridgetown, Barbados. The World Customs Organization (WCO) was one of the partners of this inaugural forum, along with the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the OECD and the International Trade Center, among others, and was organized by the United Nations Trade and Development. Participants were welcomed by H.E. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, who made opening remarks followed by a keynote address by Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations, and a feature address by Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, United Nations Trade and Development.

At the high level session, the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Ricardo Treviño Chapa, spoke of the role of Customs in easing supply chain flows and facilitating trade and what the WCO does in this context. This session provided a platform to present the WCO’s key instruments and tools, such as the Revised Kyoto Convention and the SAFE Framework of Standards, with a specific highlight of the importance of public-private partnerships, AEO programmes, discussions on resilience and Green Customs. It also provided a platform to introduce the WCO Passenger and Cargo Control Programme and Supply Chain Integrity Project. The WCO’s technical assistance and capacity building support for the implementation of these instruments and tools was also part of the presentation.

The Global Supply Chain Forum 2024 concluded with a strong message of cooperation, innovation, and action towards a more resilient and inclusive global supply chain ecosystem, laying the groundwork for continued progress in the years to come. The next Global Supply Chain Forum is scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia in 2026.

The Third Global Forum for National Trade Facilitation Committees (NTFCs) was also held in the margins of the Global Supply Chain Forum from 22 to 23 May 2024. The  Deputy Secretary Geneal, in his opening remarks, highlighted the WCO’s strong commitment and role in terms of implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), including NTFCs, along with other Annex D organizations. This is of course not limited only to the development of tools to this end, such as Implementation Guidance for Section I and the NTFC Guidance, but also the technical assistance and capacity building support provided to WCO Members including e-learning courses and WCO programmes and projects. He also highlighted the importance of private sector participation.

The session organized by the WCO and moderated by the Deputy Secretary General on “The Role of Customs in NTFCs and the link to Customs Consultative Committees” brought together four speakers from WCO Members from different WCO regions and also from the Private Sector Consultative Group; Brazil, India, Namibia and Regional Private Sector Group Representative for the WCO Americas and Caribbean Region. The discussions focusses on the challenges in terms of efficient operation and sustainability of NTFCs and how ways to overcome those challenges were found. The panel also discussed the importance of public-private sector dialogue as well as cooperation between border agencies. The role of conducting a Time Release Study in strengthening cooperation between all relevant stakeholders was another experience shared by panelists.  

At the closing session of the NTFC Forum, Lisa Cummins, Minister of Energy and Business of Barbados, highlighted, as one of the key outcomes of the Forum, the critical role of Customs authorities in facilitating trade, with a call for strengthened collaboration between NTFCs and Customs administrations. She also emphasized the necessity of collaboration among various stakeholders as well as further cooperation with international organizations such as the WCO. Public-private partnerships was deemed essential for addressing challenges such as supply chain resilience and border compliance. The Forum also recognized the need for strategic capacity building and clear communication with private sector entities, including port agents.

These two Forums also provided a platform for the WCO to contribute to three sessions on Single Window, Humanitarian Relief and Customs and WCO’s role in this regard and Coordinated Border Management.  

In the margins of Forum programme, the WCO and UN Trade and Development, along with representatives from HM Revenue and Customs of the United Kingdom, came together with NTFC members from partner countries, to facilitate discussions on the progress achieved, as well as upcoming needs and priorities for HMRC-WCO-UNCTAD Accelerate Trade Facilitation Programme.

The WCO is honored to have partnered with UN Trade and Development and other supporting organizations in contributing to the success of these two important events.