Customs leaders from the Asia/Pacific and Americas/Caribbean regions gather together in Panama for a historical partnership dialogue

Published by World Customs Organization (WCO)

Customs leaders of more than 50 administrations from the Asia/Pacific and Americas/Caribbean regions convened a partnership dialogue in Panama City, Panama from 4 to 5 April 2013 in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

For the first time, participants from the two regions gathered to discuss and exchange views on key Customs-related issues and challenges, as well as cooperation opportunities between the two regions.

The dialogue underscored the importance of the WCO Revised Kyoto Convention (RKC) as the heart of the WCO Economic Competitiveness Package and encouraged accession to the RKC and subsequent domestic regulatory reforms. The participants also underlined the importance of electronic exchange of information, especially through a Single Window environment, as an enabler for international cooperation.

Recognizing the importance of performance measurement to assess the effectiveness of actual operations and identify areas for improvement, they shared experiences from both regions, inter alia, in respect of the WCO Time Release Study. Cooperation between Customs administrations in protecting society from illicit trade also featured prominently in the dialogue which recommended the active use of available tools, such as the WCO Customs Enforcement Network (CEN) and the Regional Intelligence Liaison Office (RILO) network.

To meet these challenges, the participants urged investment in human capital to build sustainable institutional capacity by mobilizing the support of the ADB, IDB and WCO, including WCO Regional Offices for Capacity Building (ROCBs) and RILOs.

In conclusion, the dialogue identified four priority areas, namely trade facilitation, trade security, information exchange and protection of society where the Customs administrations from the two regions can cooperate in the future, through capacity building, experience sharing, and joint undertakings. The participants agreed to deepen the dialogue between the two regions and proposed that technical experts from interested countries gather together to discuss follow-up actions aimed at tangible outcomes in support of shared prosperity through achieving efficient and secure trade.

The WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, stated that “The dialogue between the two WCO regions in collaboration with the ADB and the IDB was a historical and innovative approach to enhance connectivity at borders. The high level of contribution from the participants showed a keen interest in sharing best practices and exploring areas for cooperation, which would support regional economic integration in the respective regions to be compatible and consistent at the global level.”

Secretary General Mikuriya further added that “The WCO will continue to provide a forum for inter-regional cooperation and enhance partnerships with the ADB and the IDB. On behalf of all the participants, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the Customs Administration and Government of Panama for their hosting and hospitality, including the very interesting visit to the Panama Canal symbolizing the connectivity of the two regions”.