The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization (WCO), Kunio Mikuriya, announced today that 2018 will be dedicated to strengthening the security of the business environment, with the slogan “A secure business environment for economic development.”
The development of international trade is not an end in itself, but rather a vehicle through which economic development can be achieved. We should, therefore, strive to create an environment for businesses that will foster their participation in trade, for the benefit of all.
With the above in mind, it is imperative that we ask ourselves, how we can, as Customs, contribute to better secure the business environment and, in doing so, boost economic prosperity. Three key elements come to the forefront:
• Enabling environment
It is globally recognized that Customs can contribute to making the business environment more stable and predictable by, for example, streamlining procedures, tackling corruption, enhancing integrity, and facilitating the movement of goods, conveyances and people in general.
• Safe environment
Legitimate businesses require a secure supply chain to prosper, but some threats come from within the trade itself, such as the shipment of illicit goods that could endanger peoples’ health, safety and security. Combating cross-border crime, including the illicit funding of international terrorism through trade activities, is our responsibility. By taking advantage of the WCO’s tools, instruments and expertise, Customs has the means to actively secure the global trade landscape.
• Fair and sustainable environment
The importation of illegal goods, such as goods that infringe intellectual property rights (IPR), or legal goods which, for example, are smuggled into a country to avoid the payment of duty or whose value has been misreported, can do immense harm to a country’s economy. It is not only a question of financial losses for both legitimate traders and governments, such activities can also affect governance, the economy, development and human security across the globe.
“All these different aspects of securing the business environment are invariably connected to the current Customs focus on trade facilitation, in particular the implementation of the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention and the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement that support the goals contained in the United Nations’ Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Secretary General Mikuriya.
Many WCO tools, instruments and initiatives that have been developed can readily assist Customs administrations in building a secure business environment, such as the WCO SAFE Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade or the WCO Security Programme. They not only enhance Customs’ overall trade-related processes, they also contribute to an increase in both security and trade facilitation.
The WCO’s annual theme will be launched on International Customs Day, which is celebrated annually by the global Customs community on 26 January in honour of the inaugural session of the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) which took place on 26 January 1953.
The WCO invites the Customs community to mark 26 January 2018 in their diary.