Friday January 26th, 2018 marked the 65th annual International Customs Day. The celebration is organized by the World Customs Organisation (WCO), Customs offices, trade organizations, and other stakeholder groups around the world. International Customs Day celebrates January 26th, 1953 when the first session of the Customs Cooperation Council, later renamed the WCO, was held in Brussels, Belgium. 17 countries attended this first session. Today, the WCO boasts 179-member countries.
The theme of 2018’s International Customs Day is “a secure business environment for economic development.” WCO members are “encouraged to look at how they can create an environment for businesses that will foster their participation in cross-border trade and ultimately how they can best serve the people and empower entrepreneurs.” The WCO encouraged members to continue to ensure an equal playing field for small and medium businesses operating in the trade environment.
International Customs Day also recognizes the important role of Customs and border officials as often the first-line-of defense in maintaining countries’ border security.
Since 1953, the issues, challenges, and threats facing Customs and border officials and their agencies has evolved. Today they face increasing threats in carrying out their duties and responsibilities, from the handling of fentanyl, opioids, and other illegal narcotics to the trafficking of illegal weapons. Customs officials continue to face challenges in intercepting goods made with forced labor, goods that may violate intellectual property rights, or cargo that benefits transnational criminal organizations. Customs agencies will also need to evolve in the coming year to ensure that they can efficiently and safely process the increasing number of packages circulating the globe as a result of the rise in e-commerce. They will also need to adapt to new technologies, such as blockchain, biometric capture, and mass data analytic technologies.
Crucially, Customs offices around the world will need to continue to work with each other to improve upon trade facilitation and streamline systems and processes to create a more cohesive international Customs environment.
CT Strategies, along with our colleagues in the Customs and trade community, looks forward to addressing these various challenges in the new year as we mark International Customs Day, 2018.