From July 6th-8th the World Customs Organization’s (WCO) held its 129th/130th Annual Council Session in Brussels, Belgium. Customs authorities from across the world discussed multiple topics including: the WCO Mercator Programme, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, data and intelligence sharing, combating illicit financial flows, customs-tax cooperation, and capacity building. Mr. Farrelly attended as an official observer on behalf of the Business Alliance for Secure Commerce (BASC), an organization that works with governments and businesses across the western hemisphere to promote supply chain security and trade facilitation.
The Annual Council Sessions featured multiple keynote speakers including: Pierre Moscovici, the European Union’s Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs; and Inna Kuznetsova, President and Chief Operating Officer of INTTRA, an electronic transaction platform, software and information provider for the ocean shipping industry. Moscovici discussed Customs important role in combatting terrorism. Kuznetsova spoke about the benefits Customs services can derive in data analysis from digitizing.
The Annual Council Session concluded with multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) being signed as well as a communique encouraging the smooth implementation of the WTO’s trade facilitation agreement. Four MoUs with WCO member countries included: an MoU with Mexico on the establishment of a WCO Regional Customs Laboratory; another with Turkey’s Customs service on the establishment of a WCO Regional Dog Training Centre (RDTC); one with United States CBP on the establishment of a WCO RDTC; and a final revised MoU with China’s Customs service regarding a WCO Regional Training Centre (RTC).
WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, was optimistic regarding the Sessions’ objective in developing Customs operations and practices. He stated “[Directors General of Customs] clear and helpful decisions will guide the Secretariat’s activities and work programmes, enabling it to deliver positive results and meet the expectations of the WCO’s worldwide membership, including Customs’ global partners.”
For more information on the WCO Annual Council Sessions, please visit the World Customs Organization.