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VISUALLY VERSION
The Secretary General of the World Customs Organization Mr. Kunio Mikuriya gave an interview to the “Eurasian Communication Center”. The Secretary General of the WCO: “Russian customs makes a substantial contribution to the success of the WCO”

October 25th, 2016 - Day of the Russian Federation Customs Officer.    On this day in Moscow starts International Exhibition “Customs Service - 2016” with the status of official event of the Eurasian Economic Union and the World Customs Organization. To participate in the Forum more than 30 delegations of Customs Services of foreign countries has arrived.

Before this event, the Secretary General of the WCO Mr. Kunio Mikuriya gave an exclusive interview to the “Eurasian Communication Center”.

In Your opinion, being involved in the WCO for many years, how influential this Organization is in the World today? What it can bring to contribute into the progress of trade and cooperation between the States?

Since 1952, the WCO has relentlessly strived to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations worldwide. It is the only intergovernmental organization specialized in Customs matters and is recognized by its 180 members as a global centre of Customs expertise and the voice of the international Customs community. Along with a pool of technically competent Customs officials working within committees, sub-committees and other working groups, it aims to continually develop, maintain and promote a wide and comprehensive range of international instruments and tools that guide the regulatory development of Customs administrations towards the enhancement of safety procedures and processes along the border line and to further strengthen compliance and trade facilitation. Its 180 members are divided into 6 regions that are responsible for processing 98% of international trade.

In terms of contribution to its members, the WCO leads reform and modernization efforts across the globe by providing a forum for dialogue and the exchange of experiences. We encourage the sharing of best practices and their dissemination and motivate Customs administrations to support each other in the implementation of reforms.

The WCO's task is clearly distinct from that of other international bodies with less markedly technical competence. We support countries in simplifying and standardizing Customs formalities, finding concrete responses to strengthening Customs enforcement, and strengthening cooperation between Customs administrations. The tools and instruments developed by the WCO are being successfully implemented though tailor-made capacity building programmes and have helped to increase the economic competitiveness and growth of all the members in three broad ways: trade facilitation, revenue collection and social protection.

Concerning trade facilitation, it is undeniable that the streamlined Customs procedures have brought about more efficient processes that have lowered trade transaction costs for businesses. Border agencies have improved their efficiency and this invariably leads to a fair and efficient amount of revenue being collected to finance public sector functions and hence ensuring economic productivity and competitiveness. By achieving these objectives, Customs also plays an important function, namely that of protecting the society, combating terrorism and interdicting the movement of illicit goods such as narcotics and counterfeit products.

Today there are several international Conventions and Recommendations, relating to the Harmonized System, information technology, procedures and Customs enforcement, as well as Resolutions and Declarations that invite States to pay attention to specific issues. Models, compendiums, guidelines and tools have also been developed to help WCO Members implement the Organization’s standards and solutions.

The WCO has a major role as a dynamic leader that encourages the Modernization of customs and the enhancement of its connectivity. It has a positive influential force among governments, international organizations and professionals working on trade issues.

Russia is an active player in Customs international cooperation. It has 20 Representation Offices all over the World. Current year Mr. Davydov was elected as the Chairperson of the Customs Cooperation Council.  How do you assess the role of Russia in today`s life of the international Customs community and in which areas of international Customs cooperation Russian contribution is most perceptible?

The WCO Secretariat and the Russian Federal Customs Service (RFCS) have continually strengthened their cooperation in strategic areas especially related to capacity building, regional training and exchange of expertise.

The RFCS regularly hosts high-level meetings that contribute significantly to the development of the entire region. For example, in January 2011 the RFCS hosted a Capacity Building Think Tank meeting for the Europe Region, dedicated to the development of Europe’s long-term CB Strategy. More recently, in 2015, it hosted the 21st Meeting of the WCO Europe Region Heads of Intelligence and Investigation Services as well as the 1st Regional Forum on e-Commerce and MSME business development, as well as many seminars and workshops. It also welcomed the WCO PICARD Conference and the WCO Global Canine Forum.

In terms of capacity building and exchange of expertise, the local branch of the Russian Customs Academy in Saint-Petersburg is particularly involved, since June 2010, in enhancing knowledge sharing on implementation and maintenance of non-intrusive inspection systems. The Academy recently hosted the WCO Technical Experts Group on Non-Intrusive Inspection Equipment which was set up to develop standards to allow interoperability of different NII equipment supplied by different manufacturers, the exchange of images within and between Customs administrations and to assist in the training of image analysts. The creation of a Regional Centre of Best Practices for the training of specialists on progressive technologies used in Customs, within the existing WCO Regional Training Centre in Moscow, clearly shows the RFCS desire to take the lead on these issues.

Moreover, the RFCS is involved in a number of projects, such as the “Postal Rail Project” which tested the transportation of postal items by rail Transportation between China and Europe. Of course I welcome such an active involvement in WCO projects and capacity building initiatives. In the end, it is not the WCO Secretariat that makes the WCO successful – the Secretariat is only there to facilitate its work, while the involvement of its Members ensures its success.

You have visited multiple countries and got acquainted with their Customs services work. What practices would you recommend when it comes to the implementation of information technologies?

It is critical for Customs administrations to understand which technologies will matter to them, and prepare accordingly. The use of modern technologies is key to successful Customs administrations. It ensures that Customs is in a strong position to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by the 21st century border and trade environment.

We recommend the implementation of techniques for advanced and high speed data analysis, for ensuring container integrity, for supervision and monitoring maritime and air container transport as well as the use of detection and radiation equipment. In terms of guidelines, we have developed some for the procurement and deployment of scanning and non-intrusive inspection equipment.

While the WCO invite Members to present their experiences in these topics during its different committees and during the events related to Information Technology Conference (ITC) it organized once a year, it does not support any specific practices. During those events, the newest insights, latest developments and most recent trends are demonstrated and discussed by the leading experts and technology providers and Customs officers can meet and learn from each other.

I know that the RFCS also organized an annual international exhibition and conference around the use of technology which I had the pleasure of attending and I congratulate the Service in taking such an initiative.

What role Regional WCO Centres established in Russia do play (enforcement, academia, expert, canine)?

The Regional Training Center in Moscow plays a central role in developing relevant training for the region and for maintaining of a pool of specialist trainer to support WCO training activities.

In 2013, a WCO Regional Dog Training Centre was opened in Moscow and serves as an infrastructure to strengthen the network of dog trainers and handlers in the region.

In that respect, the Regional Intelligence Liaison Offices (RILOs) in Moscow also plays a crucial role as a WCO information hub by coordinating activities in the CIS region. Since its establishment in 2001, the RILO has been engaged in a number of enforcement projects and activities.

The Regional centres also played an important role in the implementation of the NII equipment, thereby reducing the recourse to formal inspection of consignments, as already indicated in my reply to question number 2.

Russia has common customs space with Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan but Customs services are different. Europe and South America had also faced similar experience. Whether, from your view, Countries participation in Customs Unions does simplify customs officers work or, contrary, makes it more complicated?

In a Customs Union, the Customs authorities of each party are responsible for applying a Common Customs Law and a unified guide for Customs procedures. To enable a Customs union to operate properly, active cooperation between Customs authorities within the union must be established. This cooperation is not necessarily limited to legal issues touching on “core” Customs domains, e.g. regulating import and export formalities or establishing a common tariff. An effective Customs union must also provide for Customs authorities to cooperate on law enforcement issues, in order to ensure security and safety within the union, and the effective and efficient fight against crime. I guess achieving cultural change in the different services involved as well as building trust is the most difficult aspect of any “integration” endeavor.

What would you like to wish to Russian Customs Officers on the eve of celebration of the Day of the Customs Officer of the Russian Federation, October 25th.

Such a celebration is an opportunity for them to look back with pride on the achievements they have made collectively and to look forward to further strengthen the results achieved so far. I wish them success in their work and would like to express my admiration to these men and women who worked tirelessly to safeguard our nations.