By Abdul Kerimkhanov
World Customs Organization (WCO) will create a forum to discuss new communication tools and channels, Secretary General of WCO Kunio Mikuriya said in an interview with Azernews.
He was talking about the organization’s priorities for 2019.
"Every organization needs to review and assess its performance regularly, and readjust its strategic objectives, as necessary.At the WCO Secretariat, we are currently preparing a Strategic Plan for the years 2019-2022. Our regional structures have been fully involved in this process and have engaged in discussions regarding the upcoming challenges for Customs and the prioritization of the activities of the Organization.This new Strategic Plan will be submitted to the WCO Council in June 2019 and, if approved, will take effect as from July 2019," said the secretary general.
Mikuriya noted that the current Strategic Plan was developed around seven strategic objectives, which relate to the three core functions of Customs, namely the trade facilitation of legitimate trade, revenue collection, and the protection of society against illegal trafficking.
He said that the priorities identified for Customs in the Strategic Plan 2016-2019 are:
Trade Facilitation and implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement,
Illicit Financial Flows, and
"At a strategic level, each year, on the occasion of International Customs Day (26 January), the WCO Secretary General announces a theme to drive the reflections of the global Customs community throughout the year," said the secretary general.
Mikuriya noted that the theme chosen for 2019 is: "SMART borders for seamless Trade, Travel and Transport."
"Customs, working with other border agencies, plays a pivotal role in facilitating trade and travel, simplifying, standardizing and harmonizing border procedures, and securing borders. It is, therefore, absolutely essential that Customs takes the lead in consolidating and further amplifying the ongoing efforts to ease the flow of goods and people across borders, thus turning globalization into a positive force. To that end, the WCO is committed to promoting the transformation of frontiers into "SMART borders," with Customs acting as the central connecting and coordinating hub. Against this background, the SMART borders concept is aimed at strengthening the whole-of-government endeavour to facilitate trade and travel, and mitigate threats inherent in the cross-border flows of goods, people and means of transport. By SMART we mean that Customs should ensure that the following guiding principles are at the centre of Customs compliance, enforcement and facilitation efforts: Secure, Measurable, Automated, Risk management-based and Technology-driven," he said.
He went on to add that for a more inclusive approach, the WCO has spared no efforts to involve its Members and increase their participation in setting WCO’s agenda, by organizing regional workshops to capture Member’s views on prioritization and the new strategic plan in all six WCO regions.
In 2019, as part of an overall data strategy, WCO will also pursue its research on disruptive technologies in order to keep pace with the fast evolving landscape of analytics and prepare the Customs community to better collect and analyse data, according to the secretary general.
"Another key area of development in the coming year is the enhancement of Customs communication strategies. In this regard, the WCO is developing a "Handbook on Customs Communication Strategies" that will collect best practices among Customs administrations and provide guidance on strategic communication approaches. In the same vein, the WCO will also organize the First WCO Global Communication Strategy Conference to create a forum to discuss new communication tools and channels as well as establish common messages and target audiences that will allow a seamless communication among Customs and send a common message to the international community," Mikuriya said.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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