At the invitation of the State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the International Association of Authorized Economic Operators (AEO), the WCO Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Ricardo Treviño Chapa, attended the 2018 AEO International Conference and Assembly, held in Baku, Azerbaijan from 2 to 5 May 2018.
The opening ceremony was presided over by Mr. Safar Mehdiyev, Chairman, State Customs Committee of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Mr. Antonio Llobet de Pablo, President, International Association of AEO. The event was also attended by Mr. Enrique Canon, Director General of Customs, Uruguay, and current WCO Council Chairperson.
In his opening remarks, Deputy Secretary General Treviño Chapa underscored the WCO’s 2018 theme of “A secure business environment for economic development” and emphasized that this was the focus of the Conference’s discussions. “In order to obtain a secure business environment through a secure supply chain, while at the same time promoting economic growth, Customs procedures should be enabling, secure, fair and sustainable,” he said.
The WCO has developed a range of tools to assist its Members in achieving this objective, through schemes such as the AEO Programme and Mutual Recognition Arrangements/Agreements (MRAs) or the SAFE Framework of Standards, Single Window and Data Model, among others. The Organization is currently updating and creating new tools to support Members’ efforts to adapt to new trends and business models and, in this regard, the cross-border e-commerce framework of standards and ideas developed in the research paper on disruptive technologies, such as blockchains, could also form part of future solutions. Turning to the AEO Programme, it has been adopted by 77 countries and a further 16 are in the process of following suit. There are 61 MRAs already in place and over 40 are currently being negotiated.
The Conference discussed the following themes during panel sessions: “Building a secure supply chain”, “AEO: Global Competition and Cooperation” and “The Silk Road Economic Belt: Corporations, Logistics Services and Border Security”. Mr. Ricardo Treviño participated in the session on “Core elements of a Secure Business Environment”. The need to put in place a suitable strategic plan, including high-level political commitment, was highlighted with the clear objective of promoting enabling Customs procedures, a robust legal framework to enhance security of any action taken, strong institutional and governance structures and a permanent capacity building plan that would enhance fair and sustainable procedures. The Deputy Secretary General added that finding creative solutions and minimizing vulnerabilities were two important factors for risk mitigation.
While in Baku, Deputy Secretary General Treviño had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Mehdiyev, Chair of the State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, to discuss further cooperation between the WCO and that country on capacity building, information exchange and the WCO´s priorities for inclusion in the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan.