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WCO Secretary General’s visit to the Asia Pacific Region

19 marzo 2009

WCO Secretary General’s visit to the Asia Pacific Region

10-18 March 2009


Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya visited Japan from 10 to 12 March 2009 to meet Prime Minister Taro Aso and other political and business leaders. Mr. Mikuriya explained the WCO strategy and its contribution to sustaining global trade through facilitation and supply chain security. Prime Minister Aso expressed his strong support and expectation for the new WCO leadership and acknowledged the important role played by the WCO in equipping customs administrations with the necessary knowledge and tools to successfully meet the challenges of the 21st century trade environment.

Mr. Mikuriya took the opportunity to discuss the impact of security measures on global trade with the business community. He also jointly explored the way to tackle emerging protectionist measures in the world as a result of the current global financial crisis, one of the major concerns of the Japanese business community.

At the invitation of China Customs, the Secretary General visited China on 15 and 16 March 2009 to meet Minister Sheng Guangzu of China Customs. Minister Sheng explained his priority, namely to take necessary measures to counter the impact of the global financial crisis on international trade. To this effect he was mobilizing all customs resources to assist business in sustaining economic growth. He also underscored the need for the international customs community to advance the new strategy enshrined in the "Customs in the 21st Century" policy document by strengthening the customs network and coordinating border management.

Mr. Mikuriya appreciated China's support for strengthened governance in the WCO and encouraged greater participation and more contribution by WCO Members, including China. Whilst in China, he also visited the RILO in Beijing and acknowledged its contribution to regional cooperation.

From 17 to 18 March 2009, the Secretary General visited Korea where he met Commissioner Yongsuk Hur of the Korea Customs Service who is also Vice Chair of the WCO Council and Regional Representative for the Asia Pacific region. Commissioner Hur expressed the view that customs should remain responsive to current affairs, particularly the impact of the global financial crisis. Korea Customs Service was determined to help business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, by promoting trade. He also explained the development of their AEO programme and the progress that had been made in mutual recognition with Korea’s trade partners. He also underlined the role of the WCO in facilitating these programmes and arrangements. Mr. Mikuriya appreciated the leading role Korea was playing in regional cooperation and its continuous contribution to the WCO.

The Secretary General also visited Korea Customs Service’s Detector Dog Centre on 18 March 2009. The Centre had signed an MOU with the College of Veterinary Medicine at the Seoul National University in June 2007 and had produced seven heads of cloned detector dogs in October and November 2007 from the donor dog "Chase", which had showed an excellent performance in detecting narcotics. After the test and puppy training, the six cloned dogs started their final detector dog training for a 16 week period last week. Mr. Mikuriya remarked that while it was well established that the detector dog was the most efficient form of “customs technology”, getting suitable dogs through breeding and training programmes proved to be a challenge for user administrations. He praised Korea’s innovative approach and the devotion of handlers in opening a new avenue for improving the detector dog programme.