Andrew Farrelly attended the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) IT Conference & Exhibition held from June 7 to June 9 in Tbilisi, Georgia. More than 550 delegates from 80 countries attended the event. At the conference, WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya announced the source code of the WCO Customs Targeting System (CTS) will be made publicly available by the end of the year. The conference held 14 round table discussions and panels, including sessions on e-commerce and blockchain technology.
The session on e-commerce focused on developing strategies and procedures for border authorities to better handle its rapidly expanding growth. Additionally, the session deliberated on potential integrations between Customs and IT within e-commerce operations to provide better customer service while mitigating potential risks. Ultimately, the session discussed how e-commerce has revolutionized customs by allowing medium and small enterprises to join Global Value Chains, which results in many unknown players moving goods across borders. Other issues raised during this session included: IPR infringements, security issues, and revenue leakage.
On the last day of the conference, WCO members and private industries discussed potential applications for Blockchain technology. Major speakers during this session included representatives from: Singapore Customs, Georgia’s National Agency for Public Registry, IBM, Humaniq, and Wageningen University of Research in the Netherlands. The session highlighted the potential security benefits of incorporating blockchain in the development of trusted supply chain networks. Specifically, private and public officials discussed how blockchain could maintain the authenticity of import and export data as it moves across the value chain. The speakers identified potential applications of the technology within banking, supply chain management, and property registration. At the conference, IBM speakers discussed the difficulty in altering, deleting, or otherwise manipulating data that is stored on a blockchain.