On 11 November 2020 the WCO Secretary General Dr. Kunio Mikuriya welcomed over 1300 registered participants to the first WCO online technology conference. Under the theme Technology for Customs in the time of the pandemic — what have we learnt?, the TECH-CON brought together 50 prominent speakers from Customs, the private sector, international organizations and academia to engage virtually and discuss a plethora of technology-related topics of relevance to Customs and border management.
In his opening remarks, Secretary General Mikuriya stressed that, as a lead agency at the border, Customs has a responsibility to drive innovation and modernization through constructive and collaborative stakeholder engagement, and the TECH-CON would explore some best practices on how WCO Members and private sector partners are driving automation in the spirit of coordinated border management.
The high-level round table moderated by Dr. Mikuriya kicked off the TECH-CON discussions with insights from Customs and the Business community on key challenges and opportunities faced during the crisis. Mr. John Denton, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Mr. Ahmed Al-Khalifa, President of Bahrein Customs and Acting Chairperson of the WCO Council, Ms. Rosine Uwamariya, Commissioner for Customs Services in Rwanda Revenue Authority and Ms. Carol West, President & CEO of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers (CSCB) and representative of the International Federation of Customs Brokers Associations (IFCBA) in the WCO Private Sector Consultative Group, brought forth the critical lessons learnt and recommendations for the future. The speakers underlined the benefits of model legislation on electronic services, of the whole of the supply chain data platforms, the potentials of blockchain technology, pre-arrival processing for SMEs, and data analysis capabilities. Moreover, the importance of sound business continuity plans and Authorized Economic Operator programmes was also stressed as essential.
On 12 and 13 November, the TECH-CON will continue discussing e-commerce, electronic services and paperless trade, as well as teleworking and building resilience for the future. More information on the Conference can be found on the event website.