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Foremost WCO research conference concludes in Hammamet, Tunisia

28 septiembre 2017

The 12th annual WCO PICARD Conference, which ran from 26 to 28 September 2017 in Hammamet, Tunisia, ended on a high note after three days of thought-provoking presentations by invited speakers, followed by dynamic discussions among the participants.

These annual WCO research conferences have positively impacted the work of Customs since 2006, providing a platform for informed dialogue between Customs administrations, universities, and research institutes on topics relevant to Customs and international trade.

Hosted by the Tunisian General Directorate of Customs, the 2017 Conference kicked off with opening remarks by Tunisia’s Finance Minister, Ridha Chalghoum, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya, and a representative of the Korea Customs Service Mr. Chang-Ryung Han, Director of Information Analysis.

The Conference was organized around more than 40 presentations, selected from among over 80 submissions following a Call for Papers. This key WCO event welcomed more than 200 participants from around 65 countries, representing Customs administrations, the academic and research communities, international and regional organizations, and the private sector.

In his welcoming remarks, Finance Minister Ridha Chalghoum underlined the importance of this Conference for the Tunisian government and Customs as a way to nurture the traditional Customs approach and vision with new ideas, to support Customs in its efforts to adequately address the current main challenges at borders, namely terrorism, smuggling, organized crime and corruption.

In his address, Secretary General Mikuriya expressed his gratitude to Tunisian Director General of Customs, Mr. Adel Ben Hassen, and his team for hosting the PICARD Conference, extended a warm welcome to the participants, and thanked the Korea Customs Service for supporting the participation of some of the speakers.

With this year’s Conference focusing on data analysis, trade facilitation, security and Customs-Tax cooperation, Dr. Mikuriya noted that “research activities and discussions on these topics, digging beyond Customs’ traditional mandate into areas such as geospatial data, biometrics, or other innovative areas greatly support the Customs community and its stakeholders in their daily work and in their decision-making processes.”

Furthermore, the WCO Secretary General said that “the interdisciplinary approach to research and policy analysis on Customs matters, international trade, and border management has become the hallmark of this annual WCO event, enriching both the discussions and participants alike.”

A keynote address on a research project entitled “Borders In Globalization research” was delivered by Mr. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Professor at the University of Victoria (Canada) and Editor of the Journal of Borderlands Studies, who outlined the concept of the exchange of trusted information at borders as a way of decreasing border risks, a topic which resonated with all Conference participants.

The Conference concluded with a Youth Forum, enabling some 10 students from Belarus, Russia, the Philippines and Tunisia, amongst others, to discuss topics integral to Customs as well as future career possibilities in Customs and in the international trade arena.

As the Conference drew to a close, participants joined the WCO representatives in expressing their gratitude to the Tunisian Customs Administration for its outstanding hospitality and efforts in making the 12th PICARD Conference a great success.  Participants also expressed their satisfaction with the Conference’s outcomes, which provided ample food for thought as well as new networking opportunities.

As part of its efforts to bridge the divide between academia and Customs, the WCO streamed many sessions live via its YouTube channel, and the videos are now available to the public, including all 182 Members of the organization. Information about the next PICARD Conference will be made available in due course.