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New WCO chief outlines priorities

source:American Shipper author:time:2008-11-05
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Developing countries could react to the global financial crisis by leaning on customs services to raise more revenue and enforce stricter trade polices, Kunio Mikuriya, the World Customs Organization's secretary-general elect, said last week. 

There might be mounting pressure on customs administrations in developing countries to make more effort to safeguard and even improve revenue collections in order to contribute to fiscal consolidation. Furthermore, there might be a protectionist temptation to introduce an implicit barrier to defend domestic industry and the revenue base, said Mikuriya, who takes office in January but has effectively been running the organization since June.

The former Japanese official made his remarks during a satellite address from WCO headquarters in Brussels to hundreds of import-export professionals gathered in Washington for the U.S. Customs' Trade Symposium.

Mikuriya, who has served as deputy to Michel Danet since 2001, said he intends to reform the WCO during his five-year term by improving internal and external communications, enhancing assistance programs for customs modernization in developing nations, and creating a new unit to research the role of customs organizations in emerging global trends.

Improved communication with member customs administrations, industry and other international organizations will strengthen the WCO's governance process, he said.

Last month, Mikuriya organized a conference in London for public and private donors to pledge aid for nations interested in building their customs capabilities. He said he would work to make it easier for members in need to access available training and technical assistance. Creating a professional management culture within customs administrations is a key ingredient for improving their performance, he added.

The new research unit will study new programs that the WCO and customs services should implement to make themselves relevant to their respective governments, Mikuriya said.

One of those new program areas is the environment. Mikuriya said he plans to promote greater customs involvement in environmental controls at the border, especially by regulating cross-border movement of toxic waste and hazardous chemicals.

He also has dedicated next year's international customs day to the theme of customs and the environment.


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