By Nazrin Gadimova
Baku is hosting the first Global Conference of the International Network of Customs Universities (INCU) entitled "Trade Facilitation Post-Bali: Putting Policy into Practice" on May 20-23.
The three-day event is co-chaired by Azerbaijan's Chairman of the State Customs Committee Aydin Aliyev, INCU President David Widdowson, and INCU Vice-President Hans-Michael Wolffgang.
The conference has brought together about 200 representatives from 65 countries, including three Nobel Prize laureates in economics.
Prior to the conference, a video-message by Secretary General of the World Trade Organization Roberto Azevedo was shown to the participants.
Opening the event, Aliyev stressed the importance of defining the customs bodies' goals in the context of globalization.
"Today, having control over foreign trade turnover is a priority not only for customs bodies, but also for countries as a whole," he said. "A landmark agreement on foreign trade was signed in Bali in 2013. Therefore, it is important to determine trade facilitation tasks facing our countries' customs."
"Some 200 delegations from 65 countries and 20 international organizations are attending the conference. I am sure the decisions which will be taken in Baku will be effective and help solve many issues facing the customs communities of countries all over the world," Aliyev said, adding that Azerbaijan's economy is developing and setting new tasks for relevant organizations.
Addressing the event, Azerbaijani Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sharifov said national economy had come a long way in development.
"Azerbaijan made its economic achievements thanks to the successful policy of the country's leadership despite the continued occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia," he emphasized.
Speaking at the event, Widdowson noted that the Regional Office for strengthening the capacity of the World Customs Organization in Baku contributed to the improvement and development of customs services.
"Trade knows no boundaries, and the achievement of its simplicity is an important result," he added.
Afterwards, presentations were made by Christopher A. Pissarides and Thomas J. Sargent the laureates of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Moreover, Nobel laureate in economics Professor Alvin E. Roth is going to deliver a keynote speech during the conference.
Following the first day of the conference, INCU and The European Port Community Systems Association (EPCSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Talking to journalist after the conference, Aydin Aliyev said Azerbaijan's Customs Academy will begin to work in September.
"Recruiting students will be conducted by the State Commission on Student Admission (SCSA), and we are ready to accept 40 students in the upcoming academic year. They will study at the economic and other faculties, of course, taking into account the specifics of customs business," he said.
Aliyev also said the State Customs Committee intends to accept customs declarations in ASAN Service Centers.
"We have already begun to ensure the presence of the Committee's staff in the ASAN Centers. Relevant documents will be accepted with their help. If a citizen has all the necessary papers and can save time by delivering them to the ASAN Service, then why not provide this ability? Existing infrastructure and the level of electrification in Azerbaijan permit it," Aliyev said.