The 132nd Annual Session of the World Customs Organization (WCO) Council – the Organization’s highest decision-making body – took place in Brussels, Belgium from 28 to 30 June 2018 under the direction and guidance of the Chairperson, Mr. Enrique Canon, Director General of Uruguay Customs, and with the participation of the Directors General of Customs representing the WCO’s Members.
Discussions were held on the following six priority areas: trade facilitation, with a focus on the WCO Mercator Programme which aims to assist the Organization’s Members in implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA); e-commerce and the challenges it poses to Customs; security, with the various WCO initiatives in this field being highlighted as well as the importance of adopting a regional approach in this respect; illicit financial flows and the outcomes of the Conference on trade mis-invoicing held at WCO Headquarters in May 2018; Customs-Tax cooperation and the challenges and opportunities from a Customs perspective; and performance measurement, including the dialogue the WCO has established with international and national bodies measuring trade and Customs processes.
Among the important tools discussed and adopted by the Council was the Framework of Standards on Cross-Border E-Commerce which undertakes to assist WCO Members in developing E-Commerce strategic and operational frameworks, working in close cooperation with E-Commerce stakeholders. The Framework will be equally useful for Members who are seeking to enhance existing frameworks in order to effectively meet the requirements of new and evolving business models.
Moreover, the Council approved the setting up of a Working Group on a Comprehensive Review of the International Convention on the Simplification and Harmonization of Customs Procedures (Revised Kyoto Convention – RKC), recognizing the need to ensure it remains the blueprint for modern and efficient Customs procedures in the 21st Century.
Members of the WCO acknowledged the critical role played by capacity building, research and the sharing of intelligence and information, emphasized the need for enhanced collaboration with business and relevant government agencies, and reaffirmed the importance of using data analysis and analytical tools to improve risk management capacities.
Delegates witnessed Vanuatu deposit its instrument of accession to the RKC, thus becoming the 115thContracting Party to the Convention. The WCO Secretary General also signed the following Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in the presence of delegates: one with Korea Customs on the establishment of a WCO Regional Customs Laboratory (RCL); one with Tunisia Customs on the establishment of a WCO Regional Training Centre [fr] (RTC); and, finally, one with Hungary Customs on the setting up of a WCO Regional Dog Training Centre (RDTC). In addition, on the sidelines of this Council Session, the WCO Secretary General and Canada Customs signed an MoU on the creation of a WCO Regional Dog Training Centre (RDTC).
The annual WCO Photo Competition was won by Jamaica for a photo depicting the core values of the Jamaica Customs Agency with its motto “Country Above Self.”