At the invitation of the National Customs Board of the State Revenue Service (SRS) of Latvia, WCO Deputy Secretary General Ricardo Treviño Chapa attended the international Conference on “Shaping a Smarter Future of Customs”, held in Riga, Latvia on 7 November 2019.
During the Conference plenary session, and after congratulating both the SRS on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of its Customs service and the Riga Technical University on the 25th anniversary of the creation of its International Business and Customs Institute, Deputy Secretary General Treviño Chapa referred to the WCO’s mission of providing leadership, guidance and assistance to its Members by developing international standards, fostering cooperation and delivering capacity building. To that end, WCO Members have approved a new Strategic Plan for the period 2019-2022, based on a range of performance indicators, concrete deliverables and priorities.
In order to devise this Strategic Plan, an Environmental Scan was drafted to identify potential threats and weaknesses, and ways for Customs to transform them into opportunities and strengths. He added that in order to keep on planning and assisting Members in shaping the future of Customs, the WCO needed to ensure that it updates the Environmental Scan and adapts its strategy accordingly. He went on to highlight the ongoing work for drafting the 2020 environmental scan and proposed that opportunities and threats would be classified under at least four main categories such as economy, security, technology and environment. He indicated that further discussions on this document would be held at the upcoming WCO Policy Commission session in December 2019, and at the WCO Secretariat’s Management Away Day in January 2020.
The Conference was officially launched by Ms. Iena Jaunzeme, SRS Director General, and Mr. Leonids Ribickis, Rector of the Riga Technical University and followed by panel sessions on “The Role of Customs in Promoting Security” and “The New Technologies for Customs Control” with interventions from Mr. Raimonds Zukuls, Director of the National Customs Board, and Ms. Ilze Kuniga, Head of Customs Policy Unit of the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, European Commission. Representatives of local Customs community, academia, as well as private sector were in attendance.
While in Riga, the Deputy Secretary General had a meeting with the SRS Director General as well as with the Director of the National Customs Board to discuss further collaboration with Latvia and WCO’s possible support of ongoing Customs innovation and modernization processes. He also had a meeting with the Director of the Cross Border-Research Association (CBRA) on WCO’s participation as a member of the Advisory Board of two research projects carried out by CBRA, namely on innovative data analytics, data sources and architecture for the European Customs risk management; and on the Pan-European Network of Customs Practitioners.