On 23 November 2021, the WCO Deputy Secretary General attended an IAPH-WCO Workshop on Best Practices in Customs & Ports Collaboration to accelerate digitalization for trade facilitation and supply chain security. The aim of the Workshop, co-organized by the WCO and IAPH, was to launch a reinforced partnership between Customs and Port authorities for smoother and more efficient supply chains.
The Workshop began with introductory remarks by Captain Subramaniam Karuppiah, President of the IAPH, and Ricardo Treviño Chapa, Deputy Secretary General of the WCO. Captain Karuppiah referred to the Memorandum of Understanding between the two Organizations, signed in 1987, and the need to refresh it considering how much the world had evolved since then. He explained that cooperation between Port authorities and Customs had to be strengthened, as in practice the reality often revealed redundant and uncoordinated processes as well as a lack of mutual understanding. He welcomed the Workshop as a stepping stone to help Port authorities and Customs raise their partnership to the next level.
Mr. Treviño shared the view that further cooperation was needed, bearing in mind the critical importance of maritime transport as it accounts for a large proportion of cross-border cargo traffic worldwide. He agreed that the lack of Customs-Port cooperation could cause inefficiencies in the maritime sector and result in delays and higher logistics costs, thereby adversely impacting the entire economy. Challenges regarding cooperation between these two different authorities should therefore be addressed, for example by building trust, identifying operational and governance issues, compiling good practices and lessons learned, and developing a roadmap for cooperation. He said that the Workshop constituted a first step towards the joint development of international guidelines on Customs-Port cooperation to accelerate digitalization agendas.
The WCO and IAPH then delivered presentations to explain the story behind the renewal of their cooperation and the instruments in place to facilitate that renewal. Mr. Tejo Kusuma, from the WCO, pointed out that WCO tools concerning Coordinated Border Management, as well as the SAFE Framework of Standards, the Single Window Compendium and the Data Model, were all directed at reinforcing collaboration with other government agencies and with the private sector. Significant joint work had been initiated with the IMO in order to align the IMO FAL Compendium with the WCO Data Model, thus reinforcing data standardization. Mr. Patrick Verhoeven, Managing Director of the IAPH, detailed the initiatives led by the IAPH in order to develop the digitalization of procedures and the exchange of data, adding that the main obstacles were related to the lack of trust between authorities and the complexity of regulatory environments, and that these issues could be addressed through proper collaboration.