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Topics related to the Future of Customs discussed at the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) meeting

23 octubre 2015

Brussels, 14-16 October 2015

The 209th/210th Sessions of the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC), held from 14 to 16 October 2015 at the WCO headquarters in Brussels, attracted more than 180 delegates from over 70 Member administrations, international organizations, private sector and academia. The Meeting was conducted under the newly elected Chairperson Mr. Rob Van Kuik (Netherlands).

The PTC was opened by the WCO Director Mr. Gaozhang Zhu who welcomed the participants to the Meeting, which he was attending for the last time in his capacity as Director of Compliance and Facilitation. He especially welcomed the participation of the members of the Private Sector Consultative Group (PSCG) for the first time as official observers and underlined the important role that private sector is playing and will play in the future of the PTC.

The PTC focussed on several topics related to the Future of Customs that the WCO Virtual Working Group on the Future of Customs had put forward for information and discussions. Among others, a delegate from China presented his research on 3D printing and its potential impact on Customs now and in the future. Questions to be addressed even further after the PTC meeting include: legal aspects including on responsibilities of Customs is to deal with issues around 3D printing - as goods are not physically crossing borders, but are printed on national level (while being designed potentially oversea); changes of supply chains; issues related to risk management, control and security; IPR matters; etc. The presentation was supported by a live demonstration of a 3D printer outside the meeting room. Overall, the PTC congratulated the Virtual Working Group on the Future of Customs for their work started on several related topics and encouraged an update on progress achieved at the next PTC meeting in March 2016.

Other future-oriented topics of the meeting included deepened, advanced Customs-Business partnership approaches, demonstrated by joint presentations of respective national efforts by private sector and Customs representatives from Brazil and the US.

The PTC also discussed the topic of Customs brokers and endorsed the draft WCO Study Report on this topic developed on the basis of a survey with (meanwhile) more than 100 responses from Members. The draft Study Report, including suggestions provided by delegates on its potential enhancement, will be presented to the WCO Policy Commission in December 2015 for further consideration. The presentation of the Study Report was complemented by related presentations by Korea Customs and the International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations (IFCBA) sharing their respective experiences and key thoughts.

Equally related to the future of Customs, the topic of "Digital Customs" was another key topic of the PTC Sessions. In response to views expressed by the Chair of the Council and Members during the Policy Commission and Council Sessions in June 2016, who had underlined the strategic dimension of ICT and the digital environment for the work of Customs, the Virtual Working Group on the Future of Customs and the Secretariat in the intersession had looked into strategic approaches to bring together different already existing approaches, tools and experiences in ICT implementation. The PTC underlined the importance of sequencing within ICT projects (including getting business processes right before embarking on potentially expensive IT solutions) as well as the important work already carried out before in the GNC framework. Members equally shared experience on how ICT had made it possible for Customs to improve its work in revenue collection, risk management, as well as human resource management. The topic on Digital Customs will be further explored by the Policy Commission in December 2015.

The PTC also thanked Mr. Zhu for his valuable contributions over the past five years in his capacity as Director of Compliance and Facilitation and wished him all the best for the future.