Following the opening address by Kunio Mikuriya, WCO Secretary General in the occasion of World Customs Day in Brussels on 26 January, Martin Wassell, ICC’s First Director, showcased the longstanding partnership between Customs and the private sector. Mr Wassell recalled that the close relationship between the two organizations dates back to the 1950’s and was further strengthened by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in June 1996 in Hong Kong.
“We have a very solid platform to broaden the basis of our cooperation,” Mr Wassell said in a speech to more than 160 participants taking part at the event, whose theme was “Customs and business: improving performance through partnership.”
Participants about the areas of common interest through ICC’s presence in the exhibition area, showcasing WCF’s trade facilitation activities (ATA Carnet, Certificates of Origin (CO), as well as ICC policy and advocacy work in Intellectual Property, Counterfeiting and Piracy and tax and transport issues networking with customs administrations,.
The day prior, Lee Ju Song, Chair of the ICC WCF Certificate of Origin Task Force, addressed the WCO Technical Committee on Rules of Origin, calling for WCO’s greater collaboration with WCF in its work on certificates of origin.
Ms Lee recognized that such a partnership addressed the mutual objectives of both institutions, and ICC’s calls met WCO’s own action plan as mapped out in its “Customs in 21st Century. Ms Lee particularly noted joint capacity building initiatives, including a joint committee on Preferential Certificates of Origin as well as the establishment of an international of an international Electronic Certificate of Origin system.
“The issuance of CO’s is an important function,” Ms Lee said. “The majority of governments and government agencies rely on the expertise and network of Chambers of Commerce in view of the excellent, creditable track record and trusted 3rd party status since the first CO was issued in April 1898.”
“Since the 1923 Geneva Convention, which specifies that governments can delegate the issuance of COs to ‘competent authorities,’ governments of developed and developing nations have delegated the issuance of CO’s to Chambers, which are deemed to be competent organisations as they are reliable and would not compromise on integrity, neutrality and impartiality in the issuance of CO,” she added.
“Given our shared commitment to harmonize customs procedures and practices and to help bring greater trade facilitation, we look forward to WCO’s continued support, help and input in bringing these proposals forward and in working together to speed up the broadening of the basis of our co-operation,” Ms Lee concluded.
The ICC WCF Certificate of Origin Task Force also met in Brussels during the same week, gathering chambers’ trade documentation staff from 19 countries that represent one-third of the number of CO’s issued worldwide. The meeting was organized by the Federation of Belgium Chambers of Commerce and Industry and hosted by ICC Belgium.
The CO Task Force endorsed the vision and plans on how ICC WCF can help contribute to facilitate the mutual support between chambers in their role as trusted authorities in the issuance of certificates of origin.