On 29 October, the Permanent Technical Committee (PTC) closed its 229th/230th Sessions, held for the second time in a fully virtual manner. The meeting brought together 190 delegates from 72 Members and 10 Observers who actively engaged throughout the two phases of the meeting.
Over 200 comments were submitted through the CLiKC! PTC forum during the two-week Phase I, launched on 28 September. Due to the introduction of an online tool allowing for English/French interpretation, the PTC was able to hold web conferencing sessions on 26, 27 and 29 October, as part of Phase II of the meeting, and conclude all 20 items on its agenda.
The Meeting was opened by the WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya who expressed his appreciation for the work carried out by the Committee, and his expectation towards achieving progress on a number of important topics.
Under the Chairmanship of Mr. Matthew Duckworth (Australia), the PTC discussed and agreed on the work that had sufficiently matured for submission to the Policy Commission and/or Council for final approval in December 2020. The Action Plan for Phase V of the Economic Competitiveness Package, which encompasses WCO’s facilitation portfolio in the period up to July 2022, was endorsed and the way forward for further improvements agreed upon. The PTC also endorsed a number of tools under its umbrella, such as the Free Zones Guidelines, the Guidance for Small Island Economies and the updated Compendium on Coordinated Border Management.
Additional input was submitted for the development of the WCO guidelines on disaster management and supply chain continuity under the WCO COVID-19 Project. Customs handling of dangerous goods and the relevant Secretariat Note were discussed, while delegates encouraged the further sharing of Members’ experiences on how Customs can support safe and secure storage of dangerous goods.
The Meeting was updated on the work of the ad-hoc Mini Group on the PTC Rules of Procedure (RoP), which received the support of the delegates in continuing the work moving forward. The results will be shared with the Policy Commission under its working methods item. The PTC took note of the need to update the RoP language to make it gender neutral, reflecting the leading role of the WCO and Customs administrations in achieving gender equality.
Delegates provided their approval for the updated text of the Terms of Reference and the Business Case for the Working Group on Passenger Control and Facilitation and endorsed the Comprehensive Capacity Building Framework for Data Analytics. The Meeting further discussed performance measurement, the role of Customs in sustainability, and the Communication Handbook. Finally, the PTC supported the recommendation of the Information Management Sub-Committee to review the WCO Data Model publication policy to make it free for all stakeholders.
In his closing remarks, the WCO Director Compliance and Facilitation Mr. Pranab Kumar Das thanked the Chairperson for his leadership and the willingness and commitment of all the delegates in advancing the work of the WCO forward, noting that the PTC has shown a new form of resilience required under these unprecedented circumstances.