Trade facilitation implementation off to good start, WCO Director tells ICC

  • 19 June 2014
ICC Global governance

World Customs Organization (WCO) Director of Compliance and Facilitation said he was optimistic about the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

Speaking to over 40 members of the ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation last week, Gaozhang Zhu said he was optimistic about the implementation of the Agreement, adopted at the WTO’s Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali at the end of 2013.

On behalf of its global network reaching 6.5 million companies worldwide, ICC was steadfast in its campaign to push for improvements in trade facilitation which according to an ICC report could boost the world economy by US$1 trillion annually and result in job gains of 21 million.

“Because most articles of the WTO’s Agreement on Trade Facilitation will be implemented by Customs agencies, the WCO is well-positioned to drive the trade facilitation agenda,” Mr Zhu said. “The aim is to secure a resilient supply chain. We are off to a good start but the hard work is just beginning.”

Mr Zhu, a guest speaker at the meeting, addressed ICC members from 20 countries at ICC global headquarters in Paris yesterday. Underscoring the importance of business engagement, Mr Zhu gave an overview of the ways in which the WCO is working to support WTO members toward implementation. He told meeting participants that in December 2013 the WCO had adopted a resolution committing to the efficient implementation of the agreement on trade facilitation and had since trained a pool of some 500 experts to help Customs administrations and other government agencies.

Among other tools developed by WCO is the WCO Implementation Guidance, an interactive tool that gives an overview of each article of the agreement and provides best practice scenarios and performance indicators.

ICC has a longstanding strategic relationship with the WCO and through the work of the commission and the World Chambers Federation, ICC plays a key role ensuring that the voice of the private sector is heard in the implementation process.

Commission Vice-Chair Oliver Peltzer said: “The work to be done by Customs to implement the trade facilitation agreement must be supported by industry, as the private sector stands to benefit from seamless supply chains.”

Mr Zhu said: “Compliance and facilitation are two sides of the same coin and we cannot overstress one at the expense of the other.

“The higher the compliance the higher the revenue, the better the facilitation, the safer society and that is why business must be involved in the international standards setting process. Working together will bring greater satisfaction for all and greater trade facilitation.”

Opening the meeting, Norman Schenk, Vice-President of Global Customs Policy and Public Affairs at UPS and Chair of the ICC commission told participants: “One of the changes we have seen in recent years is that customs and regulation agencies are getting a clear message from governments which is ‘we need to grow economically’ and it all comes down to cross border trade facilitation; the true key to economic growth.”

In an afternoon break-out session on Customs issues led by commission Vice-Chair Jean-Marie Salva, WCF Director Anthony Parkes brought attention to the important role that chambers of commerce play in facilitating cross border trade. “Chambers are a natural and preferred partner for Customs not only because of their heritage and unique nature but because they are non-commercial multi-sector organizations serving all sectors and in particular small businesses.”

Another break-out session, led by Mr Peltzer, focused on transport and logistics issues including infrastructure in the context of trade facilitation and the use of Incoterms® rules for transport carriers. Other important issues affecting cross border trade addressed during the meeting included Rules of Origin, Authorized Economic Operators and Trusted Traders programmes as well as risk analyses related to intellectual property rights infringements.

The ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation has over 200 members from 49 countries. Commission members comprise customs policy, transport and logistics specialists from ICC member companies and business representative organizations.

To improve business’ understanding of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation and facilitation measures, ICC is creating a practical online resource centre – due to launch soon – providing an overview of available trade facilitation tools.

ICC Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation.

Learn more about ICC’s World Trade Agenda.