WCO Secretary General addresses the 7th Annual Meeting of International Organisations on Facing the Global COVID-19 Crisis Together

07 septembre 2020

The 7th Annual Meeting of International Organisations of the Partnership for effective international rulemaking took place as a virtual meeting on 3 September 2020. Eighteen Heads of International Organisations including the WCO Secretary General, Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, participated in the High-Level Webinar on “International Organisations and their Members Facing the Global Crisis Together”.

After the opening remarks by Mr. Nigel Adams, Minister of State for Asia; Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom, and Mr. Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Dr. Mikuriya took part in a roundtable with eight Heads of International Organisations, including the IMO, ISO, OIE and UNCTAD, which focused on the impact of the global COVID-19 crisis on international coordination and how to strengthen resilience and prepare for the next crisis.

During his presentation, the WCO Secretary General described the pragmatic approach taken by the WCO and its 183 Member Customs administrations to ensure the continued movement of goods by safeguarding supply chains. In order to facilitate critical trade, the WCO, working closely with the World Health Organization, had published a list of medical supplies and medicines together with their corresponding Harmonized System (HS) classification codes.

Dr. Mikuriya pointed out that in order to address the challenges regarding cooperation with other government agencies at the border and to prevent gridlock in supply chains, the WCO had teamed up with relevant public and private international organisations to undertake joint actions, including issuing joint statements and letters to remind Customs, other border agencies and the transport sector to enhance cooperation based on existing standards and guidelines. In this way, the pandemic crisis offered unprecedented opportunities to strengthen collaboration among relevant international organisations.

Looking to the future, the Secretary General mentioned several areas of cooperation among international organisations. Regarding the first area, digitization, he underscored the need to promote paperless trade. The second area was E-commerce, in which the evolution of means of transport within global supply chains had further shifted from containers to parcels during the COVID-19 pandemic. The third area was disaster-management, for which the WCO was developing guidelines for business continuity, resilience and recovery of supply chains.

Dr. Mikuriya also emphasized the need for enhanced communication, including information for Customs administrations and the public on the WCO website and provision for meetings, decision-making and capacity building in a virtual mode. He asked the International Organisations in attendance to share their experiences and explore best practices in this regard. Finally, he underlined the need to improve the quality of data and data standardization on which Customs relied for risk management at borders.

In conclusion, the Secretary General called upon the international community to turn the challenges caused by the pandemic or other crises into opportunities for collaborating with public and private international organisations. 

At the end of the High-Level Webinar, the Heads of International Organisations agreed on a statement of the Partnership of International Organisations, expressing their joint commitment to continue enhancing the effectiveness of international rulemaking. The Heads of International Organisations participated in a virtual photo opportunity to mark the event.

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